Question about cross-country train trip

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Lonnie

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
84
Location
Western Massachusetts
Thank you a lot!!

I saw that I could miss a big part of the Ocean on the Coast Starlight going southbound, there is a solution to avoid this?

What are the main pro's and co's between Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited? I saw that there is a Lamy stop on the Southwest Chief limited that make a connection to Santa Fe but the Southwest chief seem very special and would make me discovering the New Orleans which is pretty isolated from the rest, so I would probably never been there otherwise.
Soon we'll be taking the Southwest Chief to Lamy, connecting to and from Santa Fe by the bus you can order in the Amtrak app. After three nights in Santa Fe, we'll get back on the Southwest Chief and get off at Flagstaff, spend a night there, use Groome Transportation (reserve at least a few days in advance) to go to the Grand Canyon where we'll spend a night in one of the hotels there. Then the Groome bus back to Flagstaff, one more night there at the Monte Vista hotel (very near the station), and back onto the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles. While we might have stayed to see LA, we're opting for more time with family in San Francisco. All that to say: you can see Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon without a car!
 

Hepcat66

Train Attendant
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Joined
Dec 22, 2018
Messages
25
Location
Salem, OR
I'm not sure why you would need two roomettes unless there are two of you and one or both are disabled. My husband and I are quite comfortable in one roomette. If one of you doesn't mind climbing up to and down from the upper berth, and if you're accustomed to the overall smaller spaces that make Europe such a joy to visit, you should do fine with one roomette. Those bedrooms are expensive!
We too, just bought tickets on the EB to go from Portland, OR to Wisconsin Dells in August. Cost was $2529.20 (retired) plus $120.14 for the travel insurance. That includes the roomette. Not sure how the upgrades work but it sounds like it can be done practically up to departure time. Quite excited about this trip as it's been a few years since I've been on an LD train, and my better half was a RR brat (dad worked for UP).
 

Northwestern

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Messages
163
Location
Santa Rosa
Hello everyone ! I'm french so firstly, forgive me for my mistakes, I'm currently planning a cross country trip accros the USA from Est coast to West coast for spring/summer 2022.

I planned to start from NYC and then take the Cardinal or Lake Shore Limited (which one is the best ?) amtrak train to Chicago, then, take the California Zephyr to San Francisco.

I want to get the best experience with both the most beautiful and the most diverse landscapes and cities, so I'm questionning myself about 2 options :

1) take the Coast Starlight to LA and enjoy the border of the Pacific Ocean, visit LA and then, take the Southwest Chief train to come back to Chicago (I heard that this trip isn't the best for the view but to my french point of view, it seem the most "american" landscape with desert, red rocks and country side landscapes)

2) take the Coast Starlight from San Francisco to Seattle (I rode that the view to North bounder is the best), and then take the Empire Builder to come back to Chicago (maybe stop to Whitefish to visit one day the Glacier National Park?) but I will loose the desert landscape (maybe the California Zephyr is enough ?).

What could you recommend ? Thank you by advance !
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I would say option 2 would by my favorite. You would be able to take two of the most scenic routes that Amtrak offers. Up to Klamath Falls and through the lower Cascade Mountains to Eugene. The beautiful route into Glacier Park on the Empire Builder, in the early morning.

I can see two concerns, however, with any cross country Amtrak trip. I don't know about you, but I would never consider coach for Amtrak long distance travel. However, the sleepers are expensive. For example, this summer I will be travelling on the C. Starlight , round trip from the Bay Area to Seattle and back. I booked a bedroom that will run my at least $ 2 K. A roomette might be $ 1200 to $ 1400 as a guess.

It looks like you will be on at least 4 LD Amtak trains, so the tab will add up. The other concern is the food aboard. I really hope Amtrak gets back to hot and adequate meals rather than cold box meal offering.

Another cross country trip which would be fun if the proposed Detroit to Toronto extension ever comes about. I'm thinking of the Zephyr to Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto. Then the Canadian to Vancouver, a Cascade trip to Seattle, then the Coast Starlight back to the Bay Area. I would need a signature loan, from my bank, for that one.
Richard
 

dwebarts

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Aug 27, 2021
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174
Location
Bethesda MD
All that to say: you can see Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon without a car!
I lived in Santa Fe without a car for nine years. The buses don't go everywhere and tend to only run hourly, but they do work.

It helps that I like to walk more than most Americans. You'd need to get a ride to go into the mountains or to Ten Thousand Waves (it's great). Walking is your best bet for the downtown area, if able. Four-hundred year old cities in the US aren't great for sidewalk accessibility, though it's better than some new suburban towns in auto-crazed America. Santa Fe was laid-out by Spanish Dons, so many streets are better suited for traveling on horseback, though paved.:)
 

Kevinx244974

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
27
Location
France
Thanks again all of you!

I'm questionning myself how to get the most of the Pacific Coast southbound, what do you think about taking the CS from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, with the delay of time in summer it should be just the beginning of the night. Passing a day in Santa Babara, seem to be very walkable and typical of California and then, the day after, take the Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles departing at 8.50 am to see all the rest of the coast until Oxnard?
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2022
Messages
11
Location
Oregon
I'm not sure why you would need two roomettes unless there are two of you and one or both are disabled. My husband and I are quite comfortable in one roomette. If one of you doesn't mind climbing up to and down from the upper berth, and if you're accustomed to the overall smaller spaces that make Europe such a joy to visit, you should do fine with one roomette. Those bedrooms are expensive!
Thanks! Good information. I appreciate it.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
874
Thanks again all of you!

I'm questionning myself how to get the most of the Pacific Coast southbound, what do you think about taking the CS from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, with the delay of time in summer it should be just the beginning of the night. Passing a day in Santa Babara, seem to be very walkable and typical of California and then, the day after, take the Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles departing at 8.50 am to see all the rest of the coast until Oxnard?
Santa Barbara is a great town to walk in. The Amtrak station is close to downtown and the beach.
 

Lonnie

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
84
Location
Western Massachusetts
I lived in Santa Fe without a car for nine years. The buses don't go everywhere and tend to only run hourly, but they do work.

It helps that I like to walk more than most Americans. You'd need to get a ride to go into the mountains or to Ten Thousand Waves (it's great). Walking is your best bet for the downtown area, if able. Four-hundred year old cities in the US aren't great for sidewalk accessibility, though it's better than some new suburban towns in auto-crazed America. Santa Fe was laid-out by Spanish Dons, so many streets are better suited for traveling on horseback, though paved.:)
In our little New England town, hubby and I are known as The People Who Walk. We love the meandering streets, odd dead-ends, and triangular parks in this part of the country, laid out when waterways were the highways and streets started out as paths. We're very close to Northampton MA, founded in 1654. Really looking forward to walking around Santa Fe!
 

dwebarts

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Bethesda MD
In our little New England town, hubby and I are known as The People Who Walk. We love the meandering streets, odd dead-ends, and triangular parks in this part of the country, laid out when waterways were the highways and streets started out as paths. We're very close to Northampton MA, founded in 1654. Really looking forward to walking around Santa Fe!
Make sure you hydrate before you walk around since you're coming from a lowish altitude. The high desert can be taxing, even for the fit, if they don't take time to adjust to it. Carrying a water bottle is prudent.
 
Joined
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Rhode Island and Philadelphia
Make sure you hydrate before you walk around since you're coming from a lowish altitude. The high desert can be taxing, even for the fit, if they don't take time to adjust to it. Carrying a water bottle is prudent.

This is another benefit of LD rail vs flying. You adjust to the altitude more gradually. If you can, get off at every possible "smoke stop" and walk around briskly to acclimate to the thin air as you go up. Personally, I feel even 3000 feet and have to take it easy for awhile. And yes, water.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2021
Messages
162
Location
Rhode Island and Philadelphia
Soon we'll be taking the Southwest Chief to Lamy, connecting to and from Santa Fe by the bus you can order in the Amtrak app. After three nights in Santa Fe, we'll get back on the Southwest Chief and get off at Flagstaff,

Or get off in ABQ and take the Rail Runner round trip to Santa Fe. Or Lamy-bus one way and RR to ABQ after your Santa Fe stay. It is a cool train!
 

Kevinx244974

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
27
Location
France
Hello Everybody!

I'm coming back with a new itinerary:
Washington (1 to 2 days) -> New Orleans (2 to 3 days)
New Orleans -> Los Angeles (2 days there) on the Sunset Limited
Los Angeles -> Santa Barbara for a day-> Los Angeles, with the Pacific Surfliner to get the wonderful view of the Pacific.
Los Angeles -> La Junta, most scenic part of the Southwest Chief I think
La Junta -> bus correspondance to Denver (1 day) to take back the California Zephyr for the best view of it!
Denver -> San Francisco (2 to 3 days)

I would like that it will be between 2 to 3 weeks overall, with a Amtrak rail pass all these costs are lot reducing, what's your opinion for this itinerary taking into account that I'm european and coming to see what I would not find in France?

I thought with this discovering New Orleans, the south west desert of Texas, New Mexico, the mexican border, the desert part from the Southwest Chief and the best part of the California Zephyr!

Thank you by advance!
 
Last edited:

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,636
Location
Nottingham, England.
The main thing to look out for with the rail pass is that each time you board a new "vehicle" it counts as a "segment" of the pass.

For example, a trip from Denver to Emeryville on the Zephyr is one segment. If you continue on into San Francisco itself by Amtrak bus, that uses two segments.

You do need to make reservations in advance, you can't just turn up and board any train.

I have used the older type pass, and covered over 12,000 Amtrak miles in 15 days!
 
Last edited:

Kevinx244974

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
27
Location
France
Thanks a lot for this precision that I didn't thought! I'm currently on 5 segments taking into account the buses.
 
Last edited:

Rambling Robert

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May 30, 2021
Messages
196
Location
Boston
Be familiar with YouTube - the Viewliner and Superliner seats operation is explained. Some seats the mechanism is hard to work or broke. They’re good seats.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,898
Location
Denver
Hello Everybody!

I'm coming back with a new itinerary:
Washington (1 to 2 days) -> New Orleans (2 to 3 days)
New Orleans -> Los Angeles (2 days there) on the Sunset Limited
Los Angeles -> Santa Barbara for a day-> Los Angeles, with the Pacific Surfliner to get the wonderful view of the Pacific.
Los Angeles -> La Junta, most scenic part of the Southwest Chief I think
La Junta -> bus correspondance to Denver (1 day) to take back the California Zephyr for the best view of it!
Denver -> San Francisco (2 to 3 days)

I would like that it will be between 2 to 3 weeks overall, with a Amtrak rail pass all these costs are lot reducing, what's your opinion for this itinerary taking into account that I'm european and coming to see what I would not find in France?

I thought with this discovering New Orleans, the south west desert of Texas, New Mexico, the mexican border, the desert part from the Southwest Chief and the best part of the California Zephyr!

Thank you by advance!
One complication:

While it is possible to take a bus from La Junta to Denver, it is very time consuming and requires an overnight in La Junta. Greyhound does not stop in La Junta. The state-sponsored bus service does not stop at the Amtrak station, but does stop at the senior citizens' center nearby.

One alternative is to take Train 4 from Los Angeles to Raton, spend a night there, then take Greyhound to Denver. Raton has an intermodal station on the edge of its business district. That Greyhound is not an Amtrak Thruway bus.

An alternative that might work well with the rail pass rules would be to connect from Train 4 to Train 5 in Galesburg, Illinois. I have visited both Raton and Galesburg and they are interesting towns.
 

Kevinx244974

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
27
Location
France
One complication:

While it is possible to take a bus from La Junta to Denver, it is very time consuming and requires an overnight in La Junta. Greyhound does not stop in La Junta. The state-sponsored bus service does not stop at the Amtrak station, but does stop at the senior citizens' center nearby.

One alternative is to take Train 4 from Los Angeles to Raton, spend a night there, then take Greyhound to Denver. Raton has an intermodal station on the edge of its business district. That Greyhound is not an Amtrak Thruway bus.

An alternative that might work well with the rail pass rules would be to connect from Train 4 to Train 5 in Galesburg, Illinois. I have visited both Raton and Galesburg and they are interesting towns.
Thanks a lot!

I checked on the website Rome2Rio and I found a direct bus line from Raton to Denver in 5 hours, I think that's the one you're talking about!
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Messages
1,898
Location
Denver
Thanks a lot!

I checked on the website Rome2Rio and I found a direct bus line from Raton to Denver in 5 hours, I think that's the one you're talking about!
Yes, it's Greyhound from Raton at 1:15 p.m., due into Denver Union Station at 6:15 p.m. I notice that it is sold out on some days, so buying a ticket in advance on greyhound.com would be a good idea. The bus is coming through from Albuquerque.

In Raton, Greyhound stops curbside at the Amtrak station. There is no agent, but the restrooms are open at train times and there are nearby restaurants. There's good scenery along the way into the suburbs of Denver.

P1040774.JPG

Business district seen from the train station.

IMG0054.jpg

Down the street from the train station, I waited here once.

P1040407.JPG
 
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