National parks are popular destinations whether you’re planning to drive, fly or take an Amtrak train to visit the natural wonders in the United States. If you’re planning a rail vacation, keep in mind that many Amtrak vacation packages can be misleading, as not many national parks are actually near stations. Rather, some require a bus ride as long as five hours after getting off the train!
So that’s why we put together the list of U.S. national parks that are closest to Amtrak stations so you can better plan your trip, especially if you don’t want to drive far or be on a bus for hours. See below to learn more; parks are listed in alphabetical order.
1. Biscayne National Park
Biscayne is an island national park with coral reefs and mangrove forest. After the drive, board a boat to get to the park. Fishing, boating, canoeing/kayaking are the popular things to do. Other highlights include the Maritime Heritage Trail of underwater shipwrecks and a historic lighthouse.
2. Crater Lake National Park
Enjoy stunning scenery in Crater Lake National Park as well as beautiful scenery while riding the Coast Starlight train to the station closest to the park. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and sometimes it can be hidden by clouds. A webcam is available on the National Park Service website so you can get the visibility status as well as information on what’s open and closed during the pandemic.
3. Cuyahoga Valley
A short drive from the Cleveland Amtrak Station, Cuyahoga Valley National Park has waterfalls, a scenic train ride, hiking trails and other outdoor activities. There are a couple lodging options in the park or plan to camp. Many hotels are also next to the park.
4. Everglades National Park
Car rentals are available near the Miami Amtrak Station so you can easily drive to the Everglades National Park. Activities including hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, fishing and viewing wildlife. Note that some areas of the park may close due to flooding.
5. Glacier National Park
The closest national park to Amtrak is Glacier National Park in Montana. Trains stop about a 15-minute drive from the Two Medicine park entrance. Or drive about an hour to the St. Mary’s visitor center, which has a free shuttle along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the Apgar Visitor Center.
6. Indiana Dunes National Park
Near the Wolverine route that travels between Chicago and Detroit, the Indiana Dunes National Park is in a charming location on Lake Michigan. You can rent a car after getting off the train or use rideshare services, and there are a variety of hotels and vacation rentals on or near the lake.
7. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree is a desert national park that has camping (but no lodging, restaurants or food stores, so come prepared if you plan to stay overnight). Car rentals are available near the Palm Springs Station and plenty of hotels are in Palm Springs if camping isn’t your thing.
8. Kings Canyon National Park
In Northern California, downtown Fresno has many amenities including an Amtrak station, hotels, restaurants and proximity to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forest. Multiple national park lodges are on site or book a room in Fresno during your stay. Enjoy skiing and snowshoeing in winter and in warmer months, hiking, horseback riding and backpacking are options.
9. Rocky Mountain National Park
Explore a variety of plants, animals and landscapes at the Rocky Mountain National Park. The California Zephyr train technically goes through the park, but you’ll need to exit the train in Denver in order to rent a car. Camping is the only lodging option, so plan to camp or take a day trip. If you are traveling in winter, be sure to call to get the status of road conditions.
10. Shenandoah National Park
Take Amtrak to the college town Charlottesville in order to visit Shenandoah National Park. It’s an easy drive with plenty of restaurants and hotels near the Amtrak station if you need a place to stay at the start or end of your trip. You can also camp or book accommodations at lodges or cabins inside the park.
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