10 National Parks closest to Amtrak

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

Drive Time: 50 minutes
Station: Miami
Route: Silver Star, Silver Meteor

Biscayne National Park reef
Photo courtesy National Park Service

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

Drive Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Station: Klamath Falls
Route: Coast Starlight

Crater Lake National Park
Photo by Jeff Hollet/Wikimedia Commons

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

Drive Time: 27 minutes
Station: Cleveland
Route: Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited

Brandywine Falls at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Photo by akrontrekker/Flickr.com

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

Drive Time: 1 hour
Station: Miami
Route: Silver Star, Silver Meteor

Everglades National Park
Photo by Daderot/Wikimedia Commons

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

Drive Time: 15 minutes
Station: East Glacier Park
Route: Empire Builder

Glacier National Park
Photo by David Broad/Wikimedia Commons

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

Drive Time: 16 minutes
Station: Michigan City
Route: Wolverine

Indiana Dunes National Park
Photo by National Park Service, M. Woodbridge Williams

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

Drive Time: 50 minutes
Station: Palm Springs
Route: Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited

Joshua Tree National Park
Photo by NPS/Hannah Schwalbe

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

Drive Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Station: Fresno
Route: San Joaquins

Kings Canyon National Park
Photo courtesy Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

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

Drive Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Station: Denver
Route: California Zephyr

Rocky Mountain National Park
Photo by Scott McLeod/Flickr.com

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

Drive Time: 50 minutes
Station: Charlottesville
Route: Cardinal, Crescent, Northeast Regional

Image by radford wine from Pixabay

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.

More Information