Far and away the best ride was the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad running 64 miles from Chama New Mexico to Antonito Colorado. This is an all day trip on a narrow gauge steam train that climbs to over 10,000 feet elevation as it winds back and forth from Colorado to New Mexico 11 times. A stop for lunch at Osier and then it's back on the train to complete the trip to Antonito. A bus ride back to Chama completes the trip. The sites are some of the best I've seen from any railroad.
The Virginia Truckee railroad trip to Virginia City was the second favorite ride of the summer. The 1 1/2 hour trip from the east side of Carson City to the old mining town of Virginia City Nevada on a standard gauge steam engine is spectacular. You pass by several old mining operations and shortly before reaching Virginia City you pass the town of Gold Hill. A 4 hour layover in Virginia City allows time for lunch or to explore the town and then you return to Carson City. The bonus on this trip was seeing 3 herds of wild horses alongside the tracks on BLM land.
Even though it was a train ride, which is always fun, my least impressive railroad was the Grand Canyon Railroad from Williams Arizona to Grand Canyon Village. First of all it was diesel, not steam, that's a minus. Second the run to the canyon is through the pines which limits the scenery. On the plus side the onboard entertainment with strolling musicians and a return trip gunfight did help pass the time.
That's my assessment of the three trips I took this summer. If I were to ride any of them again I would go out of my way to ride the Cumbres & Toltec, it was just that impressive. But I will also say riding any train is an excellent way to enjoy the good life.