Travel across America on Amtrak

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Jean
Posts: 1949
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:49 am
Location: Switzterland

Re: Travel across America on Amtrak

Post by Jean »

I just want to correct a few statements about interrail. They aren't sold in zone since several years.
It is still the best option to visit europe in my opinion. It is usually much cheaper than renting a car, an in many places, it allows more flexibility, I visited most of europe with interrail and still keep up to date with the option, because whenever I want to visit someone, i check trains and rail passes too, so ask me if you ever want to visit europe or an area of it.
Back to main topic.
I tried to plan my last trip to the US with train. It's very difficult to use it if you want to visit specific places. I'de make the trip about the train rides themselves.
What I like to do in Europe when sleeping in the train is not a practical option is look on google map at all the station my train line will stop at in the evening, and find one where wild camping will be easy. I don't know how easy it would be in the US.
But what would work in the US, is look at the station on the way, and choose where to stop based on what looks interesting for whatever reason.
As example, I see there is a nice canyon area four hours walk away from Barstow, so it could be an option to leave the train, and go spend a few nights there to "visit" the Mojave, the walk there itself being interesting, but if one specificaly wanted to see Joshua tree national park, it would be quite difficult to reach by public transport, and only worth it for a much longer visit, instead of a quick stop during a trip.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 1274
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Travel across America on Amtrak

Post by Western Red Cedar »

When I was time rich and limited on cash in my early twenties, I found traveling up and down the coast between Vancouver BC and Portland Oregon was quite affordable on Amtrak if I selected certain times/dates/routes. A train ride on a Tuesday afternoon from Seattle to Portland might be 75% cheaper than the same ticket on a weekend. That stretch is the primary route I've experienced, but it is quite scenic and supposed to be one of the pinnacle routes for train travel in the states.

My in-laws are big fans of Amtrak and have used it to travel across the US, up and down both coasts, and through Canada. I've heard from them and others that it is a great way to explore Canada.

In general, I think using trains as a medium of travel/exploration is a great option to enrich a journey. I often lean towards regions with an option for train travel when planning a trip. It is a great way to meet interesting people, limit your carbon footprint, and experience some epic vistas.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 9576
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Travel across America on Amtrak

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I love traveling by train. When I didn't own a car, I even frequently used Amtrak to spend weekend with a BF who lived around 90 minutes away. I've also taken much longer trips, such as Detroit to New Orleans. One time there was a stowaway on the train which was kind of exciting. It's very frequently the case that the large bus services have their depot very near the train station, so you can co-ordinate travel beyond the train stops in that manner. I would also note that some of the commercial bus services are quite comfortable and very affordable. The 60 day pass on Greyhound is currently $556 and includes destinations in Canada and Mexico.

The Old Man
Posts: 516
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:55 pm

Re: Travel across America on Amtrak

Post by The Old Man »

https://www.seat61.com/
Seat 61 is the go-to for train travel world-wide.

I've taken Amtrak several times: across the country from CA to NY as well as NY to FL. I've also used their auto-train (car transporter). Amtrak is generally a comfortable way to travel; certainly, far superior to Greyhound. I've had a hard time sleeping in coach class. Roomette works much better for long distances. NY to FL is an overnight trip. CA to NY requires a change of train and is a multi-day trip.

The track connections are somewhat limited, but the primary limitation of Amtrak is their relatively low frequency of service. For many lines there may only be one departure/arrival a day and the timing can be very inconvenient. As an example, I was planning to go to Salt Lake City, UT and the train would arrive after the light rail system would shut down in Salt Lake City. The hotel wasn't that far of a walk, but I would have to walk in a bad part of town which would not be safe. I don't like to rely on Uber or taxi services. In the end I took the plane.

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