Have you traveled somewhere by rail? I don’t mean the daily commuter train, I mean full on Boston to Chicago or Denver to San Francisco train travel. I have seen as much of this country by train as by car (and that’s with one cross-country road trip). It just happened that way. There are times I look at riding the rails as romantic, like it sometimes is in the movies, and of course in reality with the breakdowns/delays…though in at least one instance this was turned into an adventure when a couple fellow passengers and I rented a car and drove from Houston to New Orleans (my first time in the city while in my mid-20s).
Traveling by rail across America is an entirely unique way to see the United States. It provides views of places you could never see – not high above by plane or from the road by car…maybe by foot. Oh, and those sometimes grand stations are so much more elegant than the bus depot or airport hangar!
I’m once again thinking of hitting the rails, this time with a USA Rail Pass. Passes are available in three travel durations and travel segments throughout the United States. I’m considering the 15 days/8 segments for $429/adult (there are also 30 and 45 day passes that could be ideal for students and retirees). The way it works is you select the day you want to begin traveling and then must use the pass within one year of its being issued.
I’d go on the Empire Builder starting in Chicago and traveling through St. Paul/Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Portland on the way to Seattle. I’d get off in Milwaukee for a couple days, it’s just one of those random places I’d like to see.
Amtrak has a cool deal with the National Park Service, that during the spring/summer guides are onboard this particular route between Seattle and Shelby, MT from the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park so you can learn more about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
I don’t know where I’d go from Seattle, but the Northwest is certainly an area I’d love to explore. This is where the pass could be handy. Travel by train one way, get off and bike/drive to places then fly back to another location and travel from there via another route doing the same thing. Two great train trips in a year. That’s sure a way to get your mind back on track with what’s important. *I’m not entirely sure of all Amtrak’s restrictions so of course ask every possible question before booking a pass like this.
What I’m not sure of, is would I pay more to reserve a bedroom with a large picture window (you get that anyway if there is room and you have the right seat), private sink/toilet and shower (now we’re talking!), fresh towels and bed linens and personal turn-down service (hotel on rails). Wouldn’t this be the perfect romantic getaway?
For the adventurer who wants to take it to the next level, Amtrak offers options for bicycle transportation (upon brief research it does not seem expensive).
A few images from my Pinterest boards to get you on track with this idea….