Ask a first time visitor to Texas their impression of the state, and they will probably say "It's big." Texas is big, and there is a lot to see, and one of the best ways to see Texas is by train. There are two Amtrak routes in Texas, the Texas Eagle and the Sunset Limited. If you are looking for an outing in Central Texas, take the Hill Country Flyer from Cedar Park to Burnet, Texas.
The Texas Eagle runs daily from Chicago to San Antonio. There are stops along the Central Texas corridor at Fort Worth, Cleburne, Kileen/Fort Hood, Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio. The Texas Eagle is part of the Trails and Rails program, a partnership with Amtrak and the National Park Service. Between Fort Worth and San Antonio, a guide from the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park is on board. The trip from Fort Worth to San Antonio takes 7 hours and 45 minutes. You can choose a coach seat or a sleeping compartment. The Texas Eagle has a dining car and a lounge. Three days a week, the Texas Eagle connects in San Antonio with the Sunset Limited for service to Los Angeles. There is no smoking on this train.
The Sunset Limited runs three days a week from New Orleans, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California. In Texas, you can join the Sunset Limited at Houston, San Antonio, Alpine, Del Rio or El Paso. Going west, you'll see the prairies give way to the Hill Country, and then the rolling tumble weeds of Big Bend. As part of the Trails and Rails program, there are National Park Service representatives from Armistad National Recreation Area on board. The trip between El Paso and San Antonio is 11 hours and 45 minutes. The train has sleeping compartments, a dining car and lounge. This is a non-smoking train.
Hill Country Flyer Steam Train
If you are looking for a unique way to see the Hill Country, try the Hill Country Flyer. The 1916 steam locomotive runs on tracks laid in 1881. The route is from Cedar Park, just north of Austin to Burnet. You ride in vintage passenger cars through some lovely scenery. The ride from Cedar Park to Burnet is 2 hours. You can enjoy an leisurely lunch and shopping in Burnet before returning to Cedar Park. The schedule varies by season. The Flyer is operated by the Austin Steam Train Association, a nonprofit organization. Everyone working on the train is a volunteer.