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There are plenty of ways to see the United States. You can drive cross country, zip from coast to coast by flying, or plan one-off vacations to visit the states. But, what about taking a trip that circles the country...by train?
Wanderu—a bus, train, and flight booking platform—created the ultimate itinerary that takes you from the Northeast, down the Eastern Seaboard, and across the south, up the West Coast, over the upper Midwest and back to New England.
In all, the trip traverses 27 states, takes passengers on seven different Amtrak services, offers views of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and travels approximately 6,586 miles—for a total of seven days, four hours, and 39 minutes of train riding. Those stats alone make it a trip of pretty epic proportions. More importantly, you will do a complete circle around the United States in one journey, which will give any intrepid wanderer who takes this on some unique bragging rights.
“We developed the itinerary because we wanted to show people that, while it might look rather elaborate, this trip is actually quite easy to plan and execute—especially if you use Wanderu’s really simple booking process,” Staffo Dobrev, Budget Travel Expert at Wanderu, told Departures. “At the end of the day, it’s really just a combination of eight separate train rides. Yes, in some cases, you’ll spend almost two full days on the same train, but that only adds to the overall epicness of the whole journey.”
This journey is also a great way to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States because you go through the heart of the states rather than being stuck on highways if driving. For example, the train from Los Angeles to Seattle travels along the Pacific coastline. You’ll also go through the valleys and forests of Northern California before entering the Cascade Mountains.
And the stretch from Seattle to Chicago cuts through the world-famous Glacier National Park. “This route is often referred to as the most picturesque route of the entire Amtrak fleet,” said Dobrev. In fact, the loop includes 12 of the most scenic Amtrak routes, including parts of Sunset Limited and Coast Starlight.
While this itinerary is more intense with long travel days, you could extend it with stops in several destinations along the way. Incredibly, despite the epic nature of the trip, it only costs just under $1,000 on average. This leaves some extra wiggle room to spend overnights in your chosen destinations.
“It may not be an adventure the casual traveler is prepared to take on, but this could (and should) be on the bucket list of every true train aficionado and travel junkie out there,” said Dobrev. “And we wanted to inspire them actually to go for it.”