It depends on what you want to do. Are you ”riding for miles” or do you want to actually see more of the cities? I did will say (and I never thought I would) I did 7,600 miles in 12 awesome days on the USA rail pass and I was sick of trains by the time I finally got home, like the rocking was starting to bug me. That said after about two weeks I was ready to go again. I notice the California Zephyr isn’t on your list. I don’t know if that’s intended or not, but it is famously the most spectacular scenery in the country. Big fan of the Cardinal. Most of the different portions of the Silver Service are overnight ergo invisible, so if you’re riding to see different scenery maybe not the move to do both. There’s really no wrong way to do it, but caveat emptor: The way you have it laid out is a lot of miles in little time and not a lot of wiggle room if there’s trouble. I would do it, but it certainly isn’t for everybody.
Indeed, I plan to travel on Zephyr on 2nd project after this journey is completed, more likely in the end of the year or in 2024 and I am aware of the amazing scenery however I rather Empire Builder, it's way more better than Zephyr, just my opinion. I am going for miles since I already at 19,000+ since when I first started in 2001 so by doing this, I would be at edge shy of 30,000 miles and that would be amazing. if I didn't use the USA Rail pass and earn TQP, I would move up to Select Executive on 3rd trip, easy since I would be travelling in the bedroom, the fastest way to boost your TQP.
Sucks is that the new USA Rail pass, you are not allowed to upgrade to Sleeper ticket. If they ever allow, they should and give you say 25% off so that would lure more people to travel more and they would generate more revenue.
Like Septa9739 said, it depends on what you want. Is it transportation to the destinations, or is if the rides/miles that are your goal?
I just did 13k miles in 27 days on the pass. Rode all the long distance routes I could manage, and it was fantastic. After 2 days at home I would have gone right back out again. I wanted to soak in the views, appreciate the freedom (and monotony), accept the irritations of coach and just go. I never got sick of being on a train. But I spent 2 nights in hotels after most of the longest legs. In the end I would have been happy with a more even split of nights aboard vs hotel nights (I did 11 nights on trains and 16 in hotels/hostels). I think if every night was on a train I would have gotten sick of it.
More days to use the pass would be nice, but for my trip I didn't mind the deadline. Although I didn't have any major delays. As you said, it would be nice if the ticketing could grant extra time to compensate for big delays.
Like I said, I am doing for miles however I never done something like this, travel all in coach for this cross-country trip so it'll be interesting for me and yes, I'll be doing the filming and sharing my story so people can understand more about the value of USA Rail pass.
I have a trip "envisioned" (not quite planned since budget is a concern). To make mine work I would have to take one segment out-of-pocket (would only cost $7) to keep the segment count down to 10.
One odd thing I found was a connection in Chicago. When I first looked into my route there was a connection in Chicago from Lansing, MI to Spokane, WA. When I looked again, it did not seem to exist as the site told me there were no connections. I just looked again and the connection is back ... go figure.
If I ever get into the position to take my trip, I would be spending a few days at each of 3 stops/destinations to visit with friends and family. My total time away from home would be about 3 weeks. Fortunately, I would not have to spend for a room, but I would need food along the way.
I would be riding the Silvers, Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited, Blue Water, Empire Builder, Capitol Limited and a couple bus rides.
If Amtrak ever changed back to the old USA Rail pass program that you will have 365 days to activate your pass and you must complete within 180 days, but now they trimmed big time which was a big mistake. If they left it untouched, I would extend my trip into two months, tops by staying in these cities 2-3 days and do tours and enjoy the views and hopping on public transit and so forth, make the cross country trip worth it.
Unfortunately, with the new USA Rail pass policy as of today, it's absurd, big time. We need new people in the marketing so they can understand the value what railroad is all about, guess not anymore.