Five big American train tracks

Amtrak's bright train travels to every major city in the United States and traverses some of the country's most spectacular scenery. Their massive charm sets them apart from their everyday means of transportation, and while it's not the fastest way to get around the pace, it's perfect for sightseeing. You can choose companions, read a book, let your thoughts unfold, sleep horizontally, and generally enjoy the comfort of home. It's much more fun than being isolated over the clouds or driving on endless highway billboards.

Amtrak operates almost all American passenger trains and is one of the most enjoyable scenic routes:

California Zephyr is one of the largest trains in the world, departing from Chicago to San Francisco in the American neighborhood and climbing the Rocky Mountains on the high plains of Colorado and then along the Oregon. Pioneers came this way, as did gold researchers, pony express and the first continental telegraph. After Salt Lake City, you cross the Bonneville Salt Flats and the beautiful but dangerous Sierra Nevada.

Sunset Limited's epic coast-to-coast journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles. A dizzying train crosses the Mississippi River on Crescent's Huey P Long Bridge before traveling across the bay to white herons, alligators, castles and cane fields. After joining San Antonio, he joins the Rio Grande, taking a day off on a Texas sack brush and mesquite prairie.

The Southwest Chief travels between Chicago and the Pacific, following the portion of the Santa Fe Trail used by Native Americans, Spanish Conquistadors, car trains and stage buses. You cross the Mojave Desert and pass through Dodge City's famous Boot Hill Cemetery. From Williams, Arizona, you can take the train to the Grand Canyon by train.

The crescent passes from New York to New Orleans next to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the idyllic Shenandoah National Park with their dogs and cedars. It is located next to Atlanta's sleepy southern towns, with quaint shops and sunlit homes. The train also traverses the Pontchartrain Lake dramatically, a few miles above the water on a six-mile walkway.

Coast Starlight operates between Seattle and Los Angeles via Washington, Oregon and California. It traverses America's highest mountains such as the volcanic Mt Hood, the emeralds and Twin Peaks waterfalls. Beyond San Luis Obispo, it runs on rocks high on the cliffs, offering wonderful views of the Pacific and surfing beaches.