Before there were Subarus and SUVs to drive up harrowing mountain passes, skiers relied on railroads to get to some of their favorite ski destinations. In fact, for the better part of 140 years, downhill enthusiasts followed the rails to some of the world's most iconic ski locales.
And while cars remain the obvious mode of transport to the slopes, ski trains are making a comeback, offering convenience, efficiency, and a little bit of style in the toughest of travel terrain. Some old, some new, here are five of the world’s best train-serviced ski options.
Switzerland’s Glacier Express
Travels between: Zermatt and St. Moritz
Dubbed “the greatest ski transportation in the world” by Powder Magazine, the Glacier Express runs 186 miles between the iconic ski centers of Zermatt and St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps. The journey averages just about seven-and-a-half hours, but it's broken up with stops at several other small (by European standards) resorts, including Andermatt and hidden powder gem, Disentis. And while the skiing is legendary, the train ride itself threatens to steal the show, as Switzerland’s modern engineering marvel winds up and over alpine passes and through entire mountains.
Whitefish Ski Train
Travels between: Seattle, WA/Portland, OR, and Whitefish, MT
The Wild West may have been tamed over a century ago, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a little cowboy left in those hills. The Whitefish Ski Train serves testament to that, shuttling the techie outdoors crowd from both Portland and Seattle to the wild fringes of Whitefish, Montana, and some of the lightest powder skiing in North America. Leave the city mid-afternoon and unwind in the train’s dining and sleeping cabins before waking up in cowboy country to the promise of deep turns on a less-than-deep budget in one of Big Sky Country’s coolest mountain towns.