An Old Faithful Way to Explore Iconic Gems

November 4, 2016Travel Ideas

Three of the nation’s most iconic national parks await you on this rail journey across the American West. On this scenic adventure, you’ll steam from Yellowstone, to Yosemite, to Grand Canyon National Park, watching the lush earth shift from dense verdant forest to red sedimentary rocks. These three parks are among the best-known places in the National Park System – and were meant to be viewed by train!

Kick off your trip at the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is a natural wonder bursting with pristine alpine lakes, flowing rivers, jagged peaks, expansive forests, hot springs, geysers, and an abundance of wildlife.

Yellowstone National Park

A group of bison on the yellow grasslands of Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is home to more than 500 geysers, including Old Faithful. Spend some time in awe of this famous geyser, which truly lives up to its name, erupting at intervals ranging from 60 to 110 minutes apart. Curious about the geologic forces behind Yellowstone’s geysers? Visit the Old Faithful Visitor Center, which offers numerous scientific and educational resources.

A stop by the Old Faithful Historic District is also a must. Here, you can check out the Old Faithful Inn, which is considered a masterpiece of rustic “parkitecture” and a National Historic Landmark.

Mammoth Hot Springs is another popular destination in Yellowstone. Take a leisurely walk along the boardwalk to view amazing scenery that has been around since the last ice age.

Have another day at Yellowstone? Don’t miss other the Continental Divide, Fort Yellowstone, and the serene Isa Lake, which is believed to have been the only lake on Earth that drained backwards into two different oceans.

If not, hop on the train toward the next national park.

Yosemite National Park

On your way to Yosemite National Park, kick back and relax in the observation car while gazing out the floor to ceiling windows. The train is the best way to travel if you are looking to have a beautiful view at all times!

Stop one day in San Francisco and get back on track to go and enjoy Yosemite National Park.

El Capitan behind green trees and a river at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is an iconic natural wonder for a reason: it features breathtaking rocky peaks, abundant pine forests, soaring granite cliffs, gorgeous valleys, ancient giant sequoias, astonishing waterfalls, and of course, a variety of wildlife. While visiting the park, you can keep an eye out for black bears, mule deer, coyotes, peregrine falcons, and golden eagles, just to name a few.

Yosemite is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream with variety of recreation options from rock climbing, to river rafting, to horseback riding.

Looking for a challenge? Half Dome offers activities for expert climbers and hikers – climb the sheer face or take the 14 to 16-mile round-trip hike to the top of the granite dome.

Prefer to relax? Simply sit back and enjoy the stunning view.

Take a guided-tour of Yosemite Valley to see many of the park’s famous sites, including Tunnel View and Sentinel Bridge. Tunnel View offers a view of both El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall rising from the valley. Plunging a whopping 620 feet, Bridalveil Fall is perhaps the most prominent waterfall in all of Yosemite Valley. On a clear day, you can see a rainbow in the waterfall’s mist!

Grab a bite to eat and pick up some park souvenirs in Yosemite Village. For those of you looking to learn more about the park itself, you should stop by the Valley Visitor Center, as it features an exhibit hall bursting with information about the park’s geology, history, plants, and animal life.

Then, ride the rails to your next destination: Grand Canyon National Park!

Grand Canyon National Park

With almost 1,904 square miles of breathtaking geographical formations, 277 miles of supreme canyon landscape, and over 500 different species of animals living within its bounds, it’s clear to see why the Grand Canyon has been deemed one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Come see why millions of people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year.

Colorado River flowing between red sandstone cliffs at Grand Canyon National Park

At this park, traveling there is just as fun as being there thanks to its unique landscape. Once the train drops you off in Williams, Arizona, hop onto the Grand Canyon Railway to take an unforgettable ride along the stunning Colorado Plateau as the train ventures into the Grand Canyon’s majestic Southern Rim, offering riders breathtaking views of the Ponderosa pine forest and the deep inner gorge of the Colorado River.

There’s always plenty to do in Grand Canyon National Park: hiking and walking tours, bicycling, beautiful sunrise views, river rafting, mule trips, and so much more. Explore the Rim Trail, perfect for beginner and experienced hikers alike. While in the canyon, keep an eye out for wildlife along the Rim Trail, like bighorn sheep, bears, and elk. If you’re out and about during sunset, be sure and stop by Hopi Point for a beautiful vista view.

Whether you want to continue your journey or visit other national parks such as the Rocky Mountains or Glacier National Park, you can customize your vacation to fit your needs and with the option to depart from more than 500 stations. It will be an unforgettable experience and definitely something that the whole family will enjoy.

Travel Details

Transportation: Whether you are looking for this itinerary, a short national park weekend getaway, or looking to saturate yourself in all of nature’s glory, Amtrak Vacations provides a personable adventure for everyone and anyone who is looking to add another check to their bucket-list. For more information on National Park Packages, call 1-800-268-7252 or visit

Resources: Need help planning your next national park train adventure? Be sure to download your free copy of our Owner’s Guide, “National Parks by Rail,” created in partnership with Amtrak Vacations. Filled with detailed maps, travel tips, and inside information on what not to miss, this guide will inspire you to hop on board!

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