Scenic train trip?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
BashDash
Posts: 593
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:31 pm

Scenic train trip?

Post by BashDash » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:36 pm

Hi all,
I've always wanted to some domestic train travel and was wondering f anyone can suggest a great itinerary from last experience. It seems trains would avoid the pitfalls of air travel when traveling with small children. We have a 2 year old and a week old. This trip is not in the current planning stages just a possible future trip. We are based in suburbs of NYC? Thanks!

leonard
Posts: 5993
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:56 am

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by leonard » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:38 pm

There is a trip through the Canadian Rockies that goes I think from Vancouver to Banff. It looks incredible - and it looks like it would be very fun experience.

Big draw back is it seemed very expensive when I looked in to it - and that was 10 years or so ago. But, it may be worth doing a google search and perusing their webpage.
Last edited by leonard on Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

PoppyA
Posts: 428
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:24 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by PoppyA » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:40 pm

Why not just take a train across all of Canada. It is majical!
“Your labor income makes you rich, not your investments.”

cherijoh
Posts: 4994
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:47 pm

leonard wrote:There is a trip through the Canadian Rockies that goes I think from Vancouver to Banff. It looks incredible - and it looks like it would be very fun experience.

Big draw back is it seemed very expensive when I looked in to it - and that was 10 years or so ago. But, it may be worth doing a google search and perusing their webpage.
I did this trip and it is the Rocky Mountaineer. Super trip, but it wasn't cheap.

22twain
Posts: 1608
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 5:42 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by 22twain » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:57 pm

leonard wrote:There is a trip through the Canadian Rockies that goes I think from Vancouver to Banff.
That's the Rocky Mountaineer, a privately-operated luxury train, sort of a cruise ship on rails. There's also VIA Rail's Canadian, a "normal" train with sleepers, that takes a different route through the Rockies: Vancouver - Jasper - Edmonton, and onwards to/from Toronto.

I rode the Canadian more than ten years ago from Edmonton to Vancouver, overnight in a coach seat. Its big advantage over the Rocky Mountaineer is the price. A disadvantage is that part of the stretch through the mountains is normally at night, arriving in Vancouver early morning. On my trip, I was lucky. The train was delayed several hours by a blizzard in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (in the middle of May! :shock: ), so I got to ride through the Fraser River canyon in the early morning light, in the dome car. 8-)

(aha, cherijoh beat me to it on the Rocky Mountaineer while I was writing this)
Last edited by 22twain on Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

User avatar
JoMoney
Posts: 6307
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:31 am

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by JoMoney » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:59 pm

The Amtrak California "Pacific Surfliner" is a nice scenic mostly coastal train trip... I've been told that most U.S. train trips are not that nice though, and rather un-scenic unless you like to look at desert dirt and poor people's back yards. Many Amtrak trips will have you getting off a train and traveling via bus for quite some distance.
On my bucket list I want to travel on a train in Europe, particularly through the Swiss Alps. I'm hoping to see other posts in here about good 'domestic' train trips though.

... I've also thought it would be a potentially fun experience to get a group of people together and charter a luxury "Private Rail Car". I think that could be a neat experience even if the outside scenery wasn't.
https://luxurytrainclub.com/trains/private-rail-cars/
Last edited by JoMoney on Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham

BashDash
Posts: 593
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:31 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by BashDash » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:02 pm

Wow. Interesting suggestions. I would love to see the Canadian Rockies. Has anyone taken any NY based trains? I wonder if NY to Chicago is on a nice route?

cherijoh
Posts: 4994
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:14 pm

PoppyA wrote:Why not just take a train across all of Canada. It is majical!
That is a long trip - my understanding is that it is pretty boring across the prairie (Manitoba and Saskatchewan). The itinerary for a trans Canada rail tour (including sightseeing stops) can be found here. Based on this itinerary it appears you leave Jasper late on Day 7 and arrive in Toronto early on Day 10 with no sightseeing stops in between. Not a trip I'd recommend for a family with small kids. "Are we there yet?" would take on a whole new meaning!
Days 7, 8, 9 and 10 Jasper to Toronto
The day begins with a visit to Jasper National Park for a boat cruise on Maligne Lake. Towering, snow-cloaked peaks surround the lake, creating one of the world’s most beautiful unions of water and land. A stop on Spirit Island highlights the cruise. The lake is usually free of ice by June, another Jasper tour is substituted until then.
In the early evening you’ll board the VIA Rail Canadian train, travel east and enter the plains of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Windswept grasslands and golden fields of wheat dominate the landscape in every direction. Along the way you’ll pass through Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Ontario, home of the Canadian Shield, is next. The train arcs north of the Great Lakes before arriving in Toronto, Canada’s largest city. An early morning arrival will provide plenty of time to visit Toronto’s many attractions including the CN Tower, Kensington Market, Fort York, Ontario Place, the Harbourfront Centre and the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum.

leonard
Posts: 5993
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:56 am

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by leonard » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:16 pm

Not quite what you had in mind, but there is the "Skunk Train" scenic railway from Ft Bragg to Willits, CA. Fun day trip.
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

mrb09
Posts: 135
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:02 am

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by mrb09 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:19 pm

Not the best from your location in NY, but the Amtrak Cascades from Seattle to Vancouver is gorgeous. The train often runs very close to the Puget Sound, you feel like your on top of the water. Absolutely beautiful views.

I guess that isn't quite domestic, as you need to go through customs/passport control on the Canadian side.

22twain
Posts: 1608
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 5:42 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by 22twain » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:20 pm

BashDash wrote:Wow. Interesting suggestions. I would love to see the Canadian Rockies. Has anyone taken any NY based trains? I wonder if NY to Chicago is on a nice route?
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited runs via Albany, Buffalo and Cleveland. The stretch along the Hudson River is very scenic, especially near West Point, but you may already be acquainted with that route, depending on where you're commuting from. Metro-North runs trains as far as Poughkeepsie, which would make a nice day trip. The section from Albany to about Utica, along the Mohawk River, is also rather nice. After that the LSL is overnight until about Cleveland. Northern Ohio and Indiana are not exactly known for their scenery.

The other direct train to Chicago is the Cardinal via Washington, Charlottesville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. I hear the scenery through West Virgnia is very nice. Then it's overnight from around Charleston to Indianapolis.

There's also a non-direct route: NY to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh via the Pennsylvanian during the day (good mountain scenery after Harrisburg), then overnight from Pittsburgh to Chicago via the Capitol Limited from/to Washington. You have to wait a few hours in Pittsburgh in the evening or early morning, depending on which way you're going, maybe not so good with two little kids.
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

cherijoh
Posts: 4994
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:22 pm

22twain wrote:
leonard wrote:There is a trip through the Canadian Rockies that goes I think from Vancouver to Banff.
That's the Rocky Mountaineer, a privately-operated luxury train, sort of a cruise ship on rails. There's also VIA Rail's Canadian, a "normal" train with sleepers, that takes a different route through the Rockies: Vancouver - Jasper - Edmonton, and onwards to/from Toronto.

I rode the Canadian more than ten years ago from Edmonton to Vancouver, overnight in a coach seat. Its big advantage over the Rocky Mountaineer is the price. A disadvantage is that part of the stretch through the mountains is normally at night, arriving in Vancouver early morning. On my trip, I was lucky. The train was delayed several hours by a blizzard in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (in the middle of May! :shock: ), so I got to ride through the Fraser River canyon in the early morning light, in the dome car. 8-)

(aha, cherijoh beat me to it on the Rocky Mountaineer while I was writing this)
:happy

We extended our rail tour with a hotel/rental car package from Jasper to Calgary. This was the week before Memorial Day - Lake Louise was still frozen over (it was melting at the shoreline and refreezing at night) and we had a mini white out driving along the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Banff. I have since recommended the September shoulder season to friends rather than the May one. :wink:

rockonhumblepie
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:51 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by rockonhumblepie » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:30 pm

Amtrak Cascades tilt-train Seattle to Vancouver BC,then VIA north or east.
Amtrak Empire Buider Seattle to East Glacier Montana.
Amtrak Coast Starlight Seattle to Santa Barbara/LA.

I used to conduct on all three routes....do not get in a hurry....bring a boglehead book,a cooler(can not bring your own booze in coach),and small toys and coloring books for the kids.

patngordo
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:11 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by patngordo » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:45 pm

I have done 2 trips out of NY that would recommend

The Adirondack, which is NY to Montreal

The Cardinal, which is NY to Chicago

A lot of dramatic scenery on both those trips

This page here will give you some other ideas

https://www.amtrak.com/route-guides

beardsworth
Posts: 2135
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:02 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by beardsworth » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:53 pm

BashDash,

If you put "Amtrak" in that Search box at the top of the page, you'll find some previous threads which may be helpful.

It is unfortunate that, outside the Northeast corridor and a few short routes in southern California or radiating from Chicago, America has a quite skeletal passenger rail system. Considering that ours was once one of the world's great railroad nations, this state of affairs is, in my opinion, tragic and completely preventable.

Seeing scenery from Amtrak is further complicated by the fact that most long-distance trains operate only once a day, and a few of them operate only three times a week, so that you will miss the best views if the train is not in the "right" place at the "right" time. And, the once-a-day scheduling means that some scenery is always traversed in darkness, even when the train is adhering to its scheduled time. You can, however, occasionally overcome this by backtracking in the "opposite" direction of our general travel, so reach certain areas in daytime rather than night.

With those caveats, here are what I'd consider some of the scenic highlights of the Amtrak system:

Empire Builder between western Montana and the Pacific coast. Westbound, the train divides at Spokane, with part of continuing to Seattle (with views of the Rockies, if you get there before nightfall, and following the shore of Puget Sound from Everett into Seattle) and the other part continuing to Portland (via the Columbia River). Eastbound it does the opposite: an Empire Builder departing from Seattle, and another from Portland, combining at Spokane for the rest of the multi-day run to Chicago. If you are looking for mountains and water, the Dakota and central.eastern Montana portions of the Empire Builder will not be your cup of tea, but they certainly give an idea of the vastness of our country. (I still remember a conductor's announcement: "Folks, we've just crossed the western edge of North Dakota, and we'll be in the State of Montana for the rest of the day.")

•Santa Barbara to San Diego, with substantial trackage along the ocean shore. Central Santa Barbara itself is very beautiful.

•The California Zephyr west of Denver. The visible scenery is only on the Colorado portion, as arrival and departure times at Salt Lake City are all in the night.

•The Coast Starlight runs from Seattle to LA but, depending on your direction of travel, some of the most scenic portions may be after dark/before dawn.

•Hudson River Valley and north. Since you say that you live in the suburbs of NYC, I assume you may already have seen some of this. If not, the train ride from Manhattan up to Albany (well, the "Albany" station is actually in Rensselaer) follows the river shore for much of the trip. North of Albany, portions of the Adirondack follow the shore of Lake Champlain. You can get off at Port Kent (whose station is really just a shelter by the tracks) and a couple blocks downhill to take the ferry across the lake to downtown Burlington, VT. If you want to try other trips closer to home, Amtrak's Empire Service has multiple trains each day between NYC and Buffalo.

Keep in mind that, contrary to what you might expect, train stations used by Amtrak are not always in the "downtown" of the city nominally being served.

The Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and Boston is the only part of the U.S. where Amtrak service resembles the train service familiar to anyone who has visited western Europe. By no means coincidentally, it's almost the only part of the nation where Amtrak actually owns and controls the rails, rather than renting usage of corporate-owned freight lines. Travel on the cross-country Amtrak routes requires a casual attitude toward time, as you never know whether the train will arrive on time, and therefore plans should not require split-second coordination with other events. You just have to try to relax and enjoy Amtrak for what it is, and where it can take you.

Amtrak timetables are here:

http://www.amtrak.com/train-schedules-timetables

User avatar
dratkinson
Posts: 4384
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Centennial CO

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by dratkinson » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:44 pm

If you are out Colorado way:
Highly recommended. Durango-Silverton steam train was a nice day trip (mountains, streams, waterfalls,...): https://www.durangotrain.com
Nice. Cumbres & Toltec steam train was a nice day trip (prairie): http://cumbrestoltec.com

Interesting side trip. The Georgetown Loop steam train was an interesting ~1hr side trip: https://www.georgetownlooprr.com
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

jane1
Posts: 735
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:00 am

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by jane1 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:21 pm

Amtrak Denver to Emeryville (SF), CA has 2 scenic stretches of mountain scenery - Denver to SLC and Reno to Sacramento
Amtrak LA to San Diego is mostly along the coast
SF- Seattle is good but not great. Not particularly coastal even though the name suggests that
Canadian Rockies is one of the most scenic

Google scenic Amtrak trips and you will get some good ideas with photos
https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation ... trak-tours

harmony
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:35 am

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by harmony » Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:34 pm

It seems trains would avoid the pitfalls of air travel when traveling with small children.
When traveling with little ones on Amtrak, you might want to consider how you would manage if one of them came down with a condition which affects his/her bodily functions. We had to make such a decision: Board the Empire Builder in Portland for the trip back, or stay put in Oregon with no refund option. We went back because we had previously planned a day in the mountains for sightseeing. It was good to be in the fresh air and see our rambunctious toddler was probably going to make it back OK; but we requested to sit below with the luggage where he would be more isolated from other passengers and closer to the rest room.

Packing pre-moistened towelettes is almost essential, even if you don't have a toddler in diapers. I remember long lines to the rest room and sinks that should have been cleaned one more time before the train would arrive at it's final port of call. Passengers were waking up the final day and wanting to brush their teeth, but the sinks were still very scummy from the earlier leg of the trip the day before. (This could mostly be avoided with a roomette, but that would increase the cost to about what air travel would be.)

Thinking she had extra time, a relative traveled solo on Amtrak for the scenery and cost savings. In the middle of a barren state, the train collided with a farm tractor, killing the driver. This sad event delayed the train and everyone on board for nearly a day. The engineer walked through the train cars several times to keep passengers informed. My relative came down with a fever and had to stay put for a day at her destination. That left very little time to make it to the family event that she was planning to attend.

User avatar
gtownsend
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:52 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by gtownsend » Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:34 pm

I rode the Canadian from Vancouver to Edmonton and scheduled it to coincide with a full moon. That was fantastic!

Closer to your home, the trip from Montreal to NYC (or in my case Croton Harmon) is nice. I also enjoyed the Crescent from New Orleans to DC. Next I want to try the DC - Pittsburgh – Philadelphia triangle, which I think looks very promising for scenery.

For all train trips on this continent, it helps if you have a loose schedule and don't mind it if the train stops moving for a while. Unlike a taxiway delay on a plane, though, you remain free to move about the interior.

ClaycordJCA
Posts: 224
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:19 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by ClaycordJCA » Sun Jan 01, 2017 7:50 pm

Rode the California Zephyr from Oakland to Denver a couple of summers ago. You can get a family compartment with a combo shower and toilet, which is a good option with kids. Scenery was great, BUT consider whether the kids would get bored and antsy. Trip was roughly 36 hours and there was very limited ability to walk around.

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 37088
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by nisiprius » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:07 pm

I can't compare it with anything else, but we rode the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward and it was absolutely delightful. In addition to a domed raised section of the car in the car--which wasn't as crowded as we feared, despite the signs asking passengers not to say more than fifteen minutes before giving someone else a turn--there was a big deck at the back of the car, so you could ride outside safely and see the scenery with no glass between you and it and listen to the hypnotic clickety-clack of the rails (not welded). And there was a dining car where we had a really good meal. Better meal than I've ever had in a plane or any other train, ever.

We rode the Princess "superdome" car back from Denali to Anchorage but didn't enjoy it quite as much, despite the entire car being domed, because the glass in the dome was just a trifle wavy and there wasn't the opportunity to ride on the deck in between.

Scenically, spectacular, either way.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 6015
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: Scenic train trip?

Post by Pajamas » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:26 pm

Trains along the Hudson have already been mentioned and I agree that a trip up the Hudson is both very worthwhile for the scenery and relatively convenient for someone in the area with small children who might not want to take a longer trip.

Don't forget about scenic train routes in Canada that you can connect to in Montreal via train from NY.

https://www.amtrak.com/empire-service-train

http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-de ... ns/trains/

Post Reply