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I am in the process of planning to use the US Rail Pass. I have taken 2 extended vacations on Amtrak previously. This one will be, mostly, too see the USA go by my window. It isn’t the cities that I look forward to seeing, it is the country. Nature. I may have Parkinson’s disease and definitely want to go ahead with this trip.

My question is what side of each of the trains have the best scenery?
Silver Meteor: Miami to New York City
Lake Shore Limited: New York City to Chicago, IL
Empire Builder: Chicago, IL to Seattle, WA
Coast Starlight: Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA
Texas Eagle: Los Angeles to Chicago, IL
California Zephyr: Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA
Coast Starlight: San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
Southwest Chief: Los Angeles, CA to Chicago, IL
City of New Orleans: Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA
Crescent: New Orleans to Washington, DC
Silver Star: Washington DC to Miami, FL

Thanks
Linda
 
For the LSL, the left side leaving NYC for the Hudson River views. Although I seem to recall going through Indiana there was a nice lake view on the right side though.
The only other LD trains I have been on are the CZ and SWC and I don't recall one side being better than the other. Both of those trains have a sightseer lounge where you can get great views of either side of the train. On the CZ make sure you get a lounge seat by the time you leave Denver as it fills up quickly after that.
 
CZ westbound is better on the right for the views climbing the Front Range out of Denver. Also better for Glenwood Canyon.

Starlight southbound also right for the coastal views between SLO and Ventura.

SW Chief, no real difference. Left may be marginally better eastbound for Glorietta Pass.

Builder westbound (hint, under the current schedule, better eastbound), right side marginally better for Marias Pass and Stevens Pass.

Lake Shore Limited westbound, left side for run up the Hudson.

Cannot speak for the Eagle east of San Antonio, that's one train I haven't ridden (and won't as long as it remains in its current sorry state).

The rest, no difference, including the Sunset ("Eagle") west of San Antonio.
 
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CZ westbound is better on the right for the views climbing the Front Range out of Denver. Also better for Glenwood Canyon.

Starlight southbound also right for the coastal views between SLO and Ventura.

SW Chief, no real difference. Left may be marginally better eastbound for Glorietta Pass.

Builder westbound (hint, under the current schedule, better eastbound), right side marginally better for Marias Pass and Stevens Pass.

Lake Shore Limited westbound, left side for run up the Hudson.

Cannot speak for the Eagle east of San Antonio, that's one train I haven't ridden (and won't as long as it remains in its current sorry state).

The rest, no difference, including the Sunset ("Eagle") west of San Antonio.
The Eaglete:
#21/#421 - Right side generally best Chicago to San Antonio

#22/#422- Leftside San Antonio to Chicago
 
On the CZ make sure you get a lounge seat by the time you leave Denver as it fills up quickly after that.
Any specific direction or both directions?

Builder westbound (hint, under the current schedule, better eastbound),
What are you referring to about the choice of eastbound vs westbound?

Cannot speak for the Eagle east of San Antonio, that's one train I haven't ridden (and won't as long as it remains in its current sorry state).
Since I have not ridden any trains, for many years, and I am new to this forum, what is the “current sorry state” that you are referring to?

The answers could very well change my itinerary.

Thank you,
Linda

The Silver Meteor and Star may not really matter since much of the trip is tree-lined and the view is similar on either side - since they are both single level trains, you do not get a view over the trees.
I will keep this in mind. I may remove one of the Silver Services from my itinerary.
 
So, we are narrowed down to 3 routes that no one has chimed in about. Thanks for the answers so far.

What is the “better” side to travel in coach for these 3 legs?

-Coast Starlight: San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
-City of New Orleans: Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA
-Crescent: New Orleans to Washington, DC

Thanks,
Linda
 
I am in the early planning stage. To coordinate the itinerary, it would help to take into account the overnight portions of each long distant train. My goal is sightseeing rather than the fastest trip.

So, depending on the particular train route, do you prefer west to east for those or do you prefer north or southbound, taking into mind that scenery is my goal?

This is my plan right now but you could VERY easily change my mind with your answers.
Silver Meteor: Miami to New York City
Lake Shore Limited: New York City to Chicago, IL
Empire Builder: Chicago, IL to Seattle, WA
Coast Starlight: Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA
Texas Eagle: Los Angeles to Chicago, IL
California Zephyr: Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA
Coast Starlight: San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
Southwest Chief: Los Angeles, CA to Chicago, IL
City of New Orleans: Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA
Crescent: New Orleans to Washington, DC
Silver Star: Washington DC to Miami, FL

Thank you,
Linda
 
What are you referring to about the choice of eastbound vs westbound?
The Builder, like all trains, can be taken in either direction. On some trains, the areas covered in daylight each direction are not very different, on others they are. The Builder is one of the latter.

Westbound, the Rocky Mountains are encountered fairly late in the day, East Glacier, the real start, is 7:48 pm if on schedule, West Glacier/Belton is 9:27 pm. Marias Pass will only be in daylight during high summer and only if the train is close to on time, which is not something you can count on. The day leading up to it is spent in eastern Montana, which might as well be called West Dakota. It is quite unspectacular.

Eastbound, the Rockies are encountered in the morning. They'll be in daylight in all seasons and even if the train is late.


Since I have not ridden any trains, for many years, and I am new to this forum, what is the “current sorry state” that you are referring to?
The Eagle is now 4 cars, a sleeper, a "diner/lounge", and a couple coaches. It does not have a full lounge and reports are passengers are really not allowed to hang out in the diner/lounge, except for sleeper passengers while being served their diner meals. You have to take your purchases back to your seat/accommodation Reports are that it is not staffed enough to provide take-out cafe service during sleeper dining service, so coach passengers are barred from it during those times. Finally, if you are in a sleeper, the "dining service" consists of reheated "Flex" meals, not traditional dining.

It isn't worth riding, at least for me, in its current condition. And it isn't on my way anywhere, so I don't have to.
 
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Any specific direction or both directions?
Not much competition for views East of Denver.

What are you referring to about the choice of eastbound vs westbound?
I think he's saying more sunlight where the views are good. Most Western routes vary between more and less interesting parts of the route.

Since I have not ridden any trains, for many years, and I am new to this forum, what is the “current sorry state” that you are referring to?
Generic precooked reheated meals, no lounge, no dining car, delays, bus bridges, etc. This sounds like a long trip if you have not ridden in many years.
 
Since you're taking the Meteor to NYC, couldn't you stop in DC? I wonder if a trip on the Meteor is that much different from a trip on the Silver Star.
You have a lot of miles planned!
 
The Eagle is now 4 cars, a sleeper, a "diner/lounge", and a couple coaches. It does not have a full lounge and reports are passengers are really not allowed to hang out in the diner/lounge, except for sleeper passengers while being served their diner meals. You have to take your purchases back to your seat/accommodation Reports are that it is not staffed enough to provide take-out cafe service during sleeper dining service, so coach passengers are barred from it during those times. Finally, if you are in a sleeper, the "dining service" consists of reheated "Flex" meals, not traditional dining.

It isn't worth riding, at least for me, in its current condition. And it isn't on my way anywhere, so I don't have to.
To clarify, the above is only between San Antonia & Chicago.

Between L.A. and San Antonio, the Eagle's thru cars are appended to the Sunset Ltd., so you get all the expected LD perks. For coach passengers, that's a Sightseer Lounge car with Cafe service on the lower level. Sleeping car passengers get full traditional meals in the dining car. On all trains with traditional dining, coach passengers can usually purchase meals in the dining car for fixed prices (they're not cheap.)
 
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I am in the process of planning to use the US Rail Pass. I have taken 2 extended vacations on Amtrak previously. This one will be, mostly, too see the USA go by my window. It isn’t the cities that I look forward to seeing, it is the country. Nature. I may have Parkinson’s disease and definitely want to go ahead with this trip.

My question is what side of each of the trains have the best scenery?
Silver Meteor: Miami to New York City
Lake Shore Limited: New York City to Chicago, IL
Empire Builder: Chicago, IL to Seattle, WA
Coast Starlight: Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA
Texas Eagle: Los Angeles to Chicago, IL
California Zephyr: Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA
Coast Starlight: San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
Southwest Chief: Los Angeles, CA to Chicago, IL
City of New Orleans: Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA
Crescent: New Orleans to Washington, DC
Silver Star: Washington DC to Miami, FL

Thanks
Linda
Of course you know the pass is all Coach and you can’t bid up. Will you be staying at a hotel between segments? The Texas Eagle from LA to Chicago is three nights. That’s a lot of time to be in Coach.Also on the San Antonio to Chicago leg there is no Sightseer car and you are pretty much confined to your seat. Are you sure you don’t want to break up some of these legs? That’s a lot of train time. The pass allows ten segments. You have eleven listed
 
I am far from completing my itinerary for the USA Rail Pass. My primary goals are to go to some particular art museums (not important for this discussion) and to see the USA fly by my window. So, what direction do you recommend for each of these trains for scenery? North to south? East to West? Or, vice versa?

Silver Meteor
Silver Star
Northeast Regional
Lake Shore Limited
Empire Builder
Coast Starlight
Southwest Chief
Missouri River Runner/Lincoln Service
California Zephyr
Sunset Limited
Crescent - New Orleans, LA to Washington, DC

There are probably around 8 cities where I will stay for a night.

Thank you!
Linda
 
I am far from completing my itinerary for the USA Rail Pass. My primary goals are to go to some particular art museums (not important for this discussion) and to see the USA fly by my window. So, what direction do you recommend for each of these trains for scenery? North to south? East to West? Or, vice versa?

Silver Meteor
Silver Star
Northeast Regional
Lake Shore Limited
Empire Builder
Coast Starlight
Southwest Chief
Missouri River Runner/Lincoln Service
California Zephyr
Sunset Limited
Crescent - New Orleans, LA to Washington, DC

There are probably around 8 cities where I will stay for a night.

Thank you!
Linda
That a quite a marathon! You will need those hotel stays for breaks and I say that as a enthusiastic veteran train rider. If I were you, not knowing your budget, I would pick at least one stretch for a sleeper at least for that experience, and it's best on one of the western trains.

Direction is not as important as side of the train you will sit on. Because you will be in coach most of the time you may, or may not, have flexibility on which side you sit as car attendants typically hand out seat assignments when you board. You can ask nicely for your preference and some will comply, some will not. You certainly will want a window seat.

There isn't any exciting scenery on the Silvers, NE Regional or Crescent. I couldn't speak for the Missouri River Runner. You can't go wrong on the Zephyr or Chief, in my opinion. The Coast Starlight has stunning ocean views north of LA. You didn't say which segment of the EB you will take, Portland or Seattle, but for views you cannot beat the Portland section along the Columbia River. Sunset is fine either side. Lake Shore Limited is most interesting on the Hudson River side (west), so you'll have to first determine which direction you are going to go.

That isn't the comprehensive guidance others may provide, but might assist in some respects.
 
I am far from completing my itinerary for the USA Rail Pass. My primary goals are to go to some particular art museums (not important for this discussion) and to see the USA fly by my window. So, what direction do you recommend for each of these trains for scenery? North to south? East to West? Or, vice versa?

Silver Meteor
Silver Star
Northeast Regional
Lake Shore Limited
Empire Builder
Coast Starlight
Southwest Chief
Missouri River Runner/Lincoln Service
California Zephyr
Sunset Limited
Crescent - New Orleans, LA to Washington, DC

There are probably around 8 cities where I will stay for a night.

Thank you!
Linda
Empire Builder: eastbound. Rockies in the morning, not evening.

Coast Starlight: northbound. Coastal running Ventura to south of San Luis Obispo guaranteed to be in daylight (may be after dark southbound if significantly late). Oregon Cascades mid-morning, evening southbound.

Southwest Chief: very slight advantage westbound. Raton and Glorietta Passes mid-morning to early afternoon. Red cliffs near Gallup in sunset light.

California Zephyr: slight advantage westbound. Climb up the Front Range out of Denver in the morning. May be after dark if late westbound.

The rest have no important directional differences IMHO.
 
Empire Builder: eastbound. Rockies in the morning, not evening.

Coast Starlight: northbound. Coastal running Ventura to south of San Luis Obispo guaranteed to be in daylight (may be after dark southbound if significantly late). Oregon Cascades mid-morning, evening southbound.

Southwest Chief: very slight advantage westbound. Raton and Glorietta Passes mid-morning to early afternoon. Red cliffs near Gallup in sunset light.

California Zephyr: slight advantage westbound. Climb up the Front Range out of Denver in the morning. May be after dark if late westbound.

The rest have no important directional differences IMHO.
Fabulous! Thank you.
 
If I purchase the USA rail pass how many segments will I use in order to book a ticket from Los Angeles Union Station to King Street Station? The thing tells me everything but what I need to know if I want to go somewhere specific if it would be cheaper?
 
If I purchase the USA rail pass how many segments will I use in order to book a ticket from Los Angeles Union Station to King Street Station? The thing tells me everything but what I need to know if I want to go somewhere specific if it would be cheaper?
The rail pass is good for 10 segments, a segment defined as one ride on one train. It usually costs about $500, so that is $50 per segment. If your iteneray includes a ride on a different train that is a second segment.
LAX to SEA only takes one train, the Coast Starlight.
You only have 30 days to use the 10 segments of a rail pass. Are you planning on using the rail pass for a return to LAX as well?
If you use the "BOOK NOW" button on the Amtrak web page and enter "LAX-SEA roundtrip " for the dates you plan to travel it will take you to options for the trip and show the prices. You can cancel before you have to enter your credit card and experiment with other options if you want to.
 

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