Train Trip Wish List

Our trip on the Empire Builder really got Matt and I thinking about seeing the country via train.  After a little research, here are the 5 trips I would like to take sometime.
The Coast Starlight
(all maps courtesy of

Runs from: Seattle to LA.

Trip time: 35 Hrs end to end

Major Stops:  Seattle, Portland, Eugene-Springfield, Sacramento, Oakland, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles

Scenic Highlights: Steep mountains, rolling valleys, and ride right along the coast and sandy beaches of the Pacific NW

Amenities:  Dining Car and Lounge car. Sleeper Cars also have a first class parlor (with bar), movie theatre, (outdated) arcade, and wine/cheese tasting. This train does have WiFi (yay). The dining accommodations on this train are said to be the best in all of Amtrak’s historic routes.

Sample cost (one way, 2 Passangers in a Roomette):  Seattle to LA – $507

My thoughts: This is tops on my list of trains I want to ride. I could see us taking this and making a stop in San Francisco along the way.

Pacific Parlour on the Coast Starlight

Pacific Parlor Car Source: sjb4photos on flickr

Bishops peak from the Coast Starlight

Bishops Peak Source: Loco Steve on Flickr

California Zephyr

Runs from: Chicago to Emeryville, CA

Trip Time: 51 hrs

Major Stops: San Francisco, Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Chicago

Scenic Highlights: The Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevadas, Winter park, Moffat Tunnel, various canyons

Amenities: Dining Car, lounge/sight seeing car.

Sample Cost (one way, 2 Passangers in a Roomette):Chicago- Emeryville = $694 Denver to Emeryville=$532

Comments: This one is lower down on my list. Personally, I’d catch this one in Denver and take it to California.  Eastern CO, NE, IA, and IL aren’t super exciting in my book, but CO, UT, NV, and CA are.

Rock Creek Trestle Source: Western Pacific Depots and Stations


The Sunset Limited

Runs from: Los Angeles to New Orleans

Trip Time: 48 hrs

Major Stops: LA, Tuscon, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans

Scenic Highlights: Big Bend National Park, Saguaro National Park, Desert, The French Quarter

Amenities: Dining Car, Lounge/Sightseeing Car

Sample Cost (one way, 2 Passangers in a Roomette): Maricopa, AZ to New Orleans $544  LA to New Orleans $744

Comments: This one would be fun to do with my Dad, from Maricopa  to New Orleans.  From what I understand the scenery isn’t too varied- perfect for a short trip.

Louisiana Source: 30 Days on Amtrak


Southwest Chief

Runs from: Los Angeles to Chicago

Trip Time: 40+ hrs

Major Stops: Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Kansas City, Chicago.

Scenic Highlights: Mojave Desert, Santa Fe, Red Rock Canyons, Painted Desert,

Amenities: Dining Car, Lounge, Cafe and Snack Car

Sample Cost(one way, 2 Passangers in a Roomette): Los Angeles to Chicago: $745; Los Angeles to Santa Fe: $424

Comments: I think this one would be fun to take to Santa Fe from LA (see a pattern here) it would be a relatively short trip- just an over night trip.

Apache Canyon: Source

The Adirondack

Runs from: New York to Montreal

Trip Time: 11 hrs (due to freight traffic north of Albany)

Major Stops: New York, Albany, Montreal

Scenic Highlights: Hudson Valley, Adirondaks, Montreal (YAY)

Amenities: Snack Car

Sample Cost (one way, 2 Passengers in Coach): New York to Montreal: $140

Comments: So it isn’t the same experience with a sleeper car and dining car, but it is a beautiful way to see New York state and to get to one of my favorite cities in the world- Montreal.

Source: Fromers

While researching I stumbled upon the blog of a profession photographer who set out to document 30 days riding the  rails all over the US.  He stopped blogging halfway though, but I enjoyed the photos and stories nonetheless.  If Matt and I could only take 30 days off from life and do something similar, would be amazing.



Filed under We Travel

4 responses to “Train Trip Wish List

  1. Have you thought about Canada via train. I was in a Canadian politics class in college and all the professor talked about was his adventures as a young man going across Canada via train. I’ve wanted to do that trip for 10 years. That and cross Central Asia into China via Mongolia. Micah isn’t interested in the latter though.

  2. Very cool! While I love the fact that train travel is pretty common here in the Northeast, we miss out on the super nice trains. I find it ironic that the trains are nicer in areas where people may depend on public transport less. I’ve traveled on the Adirondack for work in Albany. It’s definitely not as nice as your trip, but I agree that the Hudson River is pretty.

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