The United States of America is a large country across many different types of terrain as you traverse between states. Traveling by car can be exhausting for the driver, and having to deal with traffic on interstates is stressful for everyone involved.
Traveling by train is an option that not many people think about. There are several passenger train lines that run to major cities on both the West and East Coast for those looking to cover great distances while seeing some great sights along the way.
Continue reading to learn more about the train tracks that criss-cross across the US and pioneered the taming of the Wild West.
What is the longest train ride you can take in the US?
Whether you’re looking to take a family vacation without having to put hundreds of miles on your car or simply looking for a fresh start in a new city, trains are a reliable way to transport people and their luggage across long distances.
The longest train ride you can take as a passenger in the United States is the Texas Eagle route. This is technically not all one route, though, because the Texas Eagle merges with the Sunset Limited route in San Antonio, Texas, for service on to Los Angeles, California.
This merge occurs three times a week for full service from Chicago, Illinois, to LA. Otherwise, the Texas Eagle’s normal route is shorter than some of the other routes serviced by Amtrak, like the California Zephyr.
How long is the longest train ride across America?
There are two main ways to measure how long a train ride is, no matter where you are in the world – time or distance traveled.
For example, the average journey time for the Texas Eagle from Chicago to Los Angeles is reportedly 65.75 hours long, which may or may not include the time the train is stopped at a station to pick up and drop off passengers.
If you’re wondering how long that is in terms of distance, it’s 2,728 miles or 4,390 kilometers. This distance is quite different from what it would be as the crow flies, or even if you made all of the same stops but in a motor vehicle.
Through Which States Can You Pass Through while Taking the Longest Train Ride in the US?
For traveling about half of the distance of your average flight from Denver, Colorado, to London, England, you’d think that you would pass through a lot of states across the US.
However, a passenger on the Texas Eagle going all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles will only visit 7 of all 50 states across the United States of America.
This is because the train spans some of the largest states in the Midwest and West Coast. The exact states that you’ll pass through are, in order:
- New Mexico
Some states will have multiple train stations that the Texas Eagle stops at, which is another fun way to track the progress of your journey.
What Can You See on the Longest Train Ride in the US?
While the Texas Eagle is not the most scenic train route or even in the top three (most commonly considered are the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, and Empire Builder), there are plenty of attractions to be seen along the route.
Just some of the most popular sights to stop at include:
- Chicago Loop
- Mississippi River
- John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza
- Colorado River
- The Alamo
- Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
- LA Opera
- Walt Disney Concert Hall
Keep in mind that most Amtrak trains only stop for 3-5 minutes at stations, strictly to let new passengers on the train. Existing passengers are not allowed or shouldn’t leave the train during this time.
You should also know that the Texas Eagle is rarely on time due to various limitations, so don’t plan any tight connections with other modes of transport to save money and reduce stress.
Why Should You Travel on the Longest Train Ride in the US?
Riding the Texas Eagle comes with some fun things you can boast about, aside from having been on the longest train ride in the United States.
For commuters, it is a great way to get to and from the workplace when you want to live somewhere else.
Of course, not everyone can commute to work like this at the beginning of the week and back home at the end of the week, but it is a possibility if you live and work near some of the stations along the route.
Long-distance train rides like these afford some swanky additions to tickets, like personal bedrooms that not many people can say they’ve stayed in. The same could be said about the meal options included in the price of these rooms.
The observation car of the train is also one of the best ways to appreciate the vast expanse of North American wilderness. There aren’t many other ways to get a true sense of the sheer scale of nature’s great outdoors.
When you’ve taken in everything you want personally, you can also take pictures for your Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platforms so that others can share your experience.
Final Thoughts on Longest Train Journey US
The Texas Eagle is the longest train that a passenger can legally ride across the United States and one of the longest in the entire world.
Stretching across seven different states throughout the Midwest and West Coast, the train allows people to visit many varied sights at a lower price and slower pace than some modes of transport.
If you have the time, the Texas Eagle is a great way to visit multiple states if you’re pressed for time and don’t need to see the most famous icons of the US.