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Across America on Amtrak

Travel Forums North America Across America on Amtrak

1. Posted by MyanOrthodox (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,
I’m planning on an extensive trip at the end of April next year(2013) around the US and as I don’t drive, I’ll be relying on Amtrak for travelling between cities and states. I’ve not been to the US before, but have wanted to visit for ages and while I’m there I’d like to see as much as humanly possible in a relatively short time! So it will be more like a whistle-stop tour. I know there’ve been a lot of other posts covering the same sort of issue, but I’ve not come across one (that I could find online at least) which is quite as epic as the trip I’ve got in mind. Having done some research it all seems doable on paper in terms of logistics, but I’m aware I may be aiming for a little too much so was wondering if there is anyone who has done something similar could shine a light on if it’s actually possible to do it in reality in terms of time scale. Just a little info about me - I’m 25 and am going to be travelling alone, but I’ve travelled across Eastern Europe on trains twice in the past, and travel all the time on trains here in the UK so I’m really not daunted at all by the prospect of long journeys on Amtrak. Some of the posts I’ve read before have had complaints that the suggested itinerary wasn’t detailed enough so I’ll try to be thorough without boring you to death too much! I’ve included the names of the train so you can get more of an idea of the direction and to show I’ve done a bit of research at least! Here goes..

I’m planning on flying into San Francisco and spending a few days here, but I’m thinking about possibly doing a TrekAmerica trip from Seattle. It’s called ‘The Mountain Trail’ takes two weeks and goes in a big semi-circle taking in some major national parks through Montana, Wyoming, Utah, the top of Arizona, Nevada and LasVegas, ending in Los Angeles. I’m thinking about doing this because I would definitely struggle, if not find it impossible to see these parks on my own and they are something I definitely want to see. Obviously I won’t be using the trains here and won’t have to think about travel (which is another advantage) as that’s taken care of by the company.
So if I do this trip I’ll have about two weeks from when I land in San Fran to when I have to be in Seattle before the Trek group leaves. I figured this would be a good amount of time to get there on the Coast Starlight while taking some sights in the meantime such as Yosemite NP across from S.F for a day, up to Klamath falls and maybe Ashland in Oregon for a day or two, onwards to Seattle and maybe a little trip across the border to Vancouver.
After the Trek America trip lands in Los Angeles and spending a few days there I’m thinking of getting on the South West Chief to Lamy and up to Santa Fe New Mexico for a few days. From here I’d like to visit San Antonio Texas so the best way I have found would be to get a bus from Albuquerque to El Paso then carry on from El Paso via train on the Sunset Limited line, possibly stopping at Alpine for an excursion to Big Bend NP before arriving in San Antonio.
After San Antonio I plan to head back on the Sunset Limited to New Orleans and spend a few days here. I’ve heard a lot of gushing about Savannah so to get there I’m thinking I could head to Atlanta on the Crescent, see Atlanta then head across on the bus to Savannah, which on the greyhound website says takes about 5 hours. From Savannah, I’d like to nip up to Charleston SC.
From here I’d like to head to Washington D.C continuing on the Silver Star. If anyone has any suggestions of a place to stop off at between Charleston and D.C , that would be cool as I don’t really know if there are any. Maybe I’ll do a bit more research for this leg.
From D.C I’d like to head across to Chicago on the Cardinal stopping at Charlottesville and maybe go on an excursion to Shenandoah from here before carrying on.
From Chicago I’d like to head towards Toronto on the Lake Shore Limited, changing at Buffalo on the Maple Leaf taking in Niagara Falls on the way. After Toronto I’d like to head back down and head to Boston, stay here for a few days then finish my trip in the big ol’ apple, New York.
So what do you think? It’s a mammoth journey I know but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I’m planning on being in the US for about 6-8 weeks. I know that is a quite a short time for such a big trip, but I’m not planning on staying in the big cities for more than say 4-5 days. I don’t mind being constantly on the move (in fact I like to travel that way) and don’t mind slumming it when I have to.
Thanks if you take the time to read this. It’s a long post I know, but just wanted to see if I can gather some sophisticated intel.

2. Posted by emma5036 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I love the sound of your plans .. I am planning on an epic trip to the states too, but not until 2016 when i will be able to afford it!

Good luck with it all and keep us up to date on how things go! :)

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Sounds like good planning on your part, and your itinerary is definitely doable in the timeframe you mentioned. There are certain spots (Ashland, for example, where I believe the train doesn't run through the town, so you might need a rental car or to hitch a ride in these areas. Same with Yosemite--there are buses from the railroad terminals in this case, as long as you go during "high" season.

P.S. My son went to college at the University of Virginia (at Charlottesville) one summer--taking two classes that he transferred back to his main school (Indiana University at Bloomington). The Univ of VA is well-known for being founded by Thomas Jefferson, and has one of the top business schools in the country. Jefferson's former home (the Monticello) is also located in Charlottesville, about 2 miles away from the university.

Back when he was President, Bill Clinton held a formal dinner at the White House for an extremely illustrious group of visitors. He commented that "I believe we have the most intelligence in the White House tonight since the evenings when Thomas Jefferson dined here alone." (High praise for Jefferson, obviously.) I should also point out that Bill Clinton's full name is William Jefferson Clinton.