Booking our seat tickets on the National Rail Amtrak train in America we were very curious what to expect from our reservations, which was for our first section of our 2 week road trip. With reasonable prices and a route through the Rocky Mountains we were hooked by the idea and had booked our tickets within a week of discovering the Amtrak services.
Our Amtrak journey route started in Denver and would take us to Salt Lake City. We boarded it with high spirits and our original schedule was good timing, but even though we became delayed by a few hours later than expected, that didn’t ruin any of our plans. Our first impressions was pretty positive, climbing up into our carriage and choosing two seats together on the left side of the train (as we had researched that track section between Denver and Salt Lake City had the best views on the left).
Boarding the Amtrak
It was pretty empty so the first come, first serve system worked fine for all getting on, but we can imagine you might not be so lucky when travelling in more touristic months. Some families with very young children were also within our carriage but with any type of public transport you can expect that it will not always be silent.
Panoramic Cabin and Views
The chairs had plenty of room for your feet and even your bag, if you didn’t already store it above your head or downstairs with the larger luggage bags. Even my partner who is 6ft 5 sat comfortably! However it wasn’t long into the journey that we left our chairs and bags where they were and headed to the panoramic carriage of the train. As mentioned, it wasn’t too busy so we could easily choose two chairs to sit in temporary for the views. Through the rocky mountains we followed the beautiful river flowing through before it got too dark to see a thing. Thinking back we actually spent most of our time in the panoramic cabin.
Within this cabin you can easily sit at a table and play with a pack of cards. We didn’t join in but there was quite a few who had fun playing different card games for hours on the train!
For those taking this same route, sit on the left side of the train as the river and mountain range is also situated on the left. We had read this tip from someone and it’s true that the prettiest views are on the left.
The views throughout our trip were pretty amazing, so when we had heard that there was a little delay it didn’t bother us at all!
Dinner on the Amtrak
We took snacks and drinks with us on the train, but reserved a seat in the dinner carriage for 7.30pm. We shared a table with a lovely couple soon to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary. They had the same interests and humour as us and reminded me of my grandparents who travel a lot too. Even gave us some tips for the rest of our road trip. There was plenty of choice for dinner but of course not the best food being on a train. But we couldn’t complain, since it was better than the microwaved pizza that was being served from the little snack bar.
Once it was dark it was noticeably a lot colder on our personal seats too, so sleeping wasn’t the best. I raided our backpack for the warmest extra clothes to put on. We would definitely recommend some warm socks, an eye mask, using some extra clothes or even a coat as a blanket to warm up. As a light sleeper I struggled to get more than 3 hours at most.
Since we were delayed by a few hours we weren’t expecting to sleep on the train but to be in Salt Lake City by 11:00pm. The delay caused us to arrive at 04:00am in the end so we headed straight to the airport to pick up our rental car, rather than checking into a hotel for a few more hours sleep. If we knew we would be travelling on the Amtrak after 12pm we would have definitely paid for a sleeper room for two, which we heard from the couple at dinner that they were rather decent, warm, comfy to sleep in as well as safer for your belongings.
If we ever return to America we will definitely consider travelling with the Amtrak again and recommend it if you are there too! The service was great and even with the delay we enjoyed the whole journey. Next time just to make sure I have something warmer on or a sleeper booked.
- Sit on the left during this section of the Amtrak
- Take a warm clothing if you dont have a sleeper cabin
- Take your own snacks and drink
Have you been on the National Rail Amtrak in America or Canada before? We’d love to hear your stories and tips!
This journey was the start of our 2 week road trip through America – Check out the full itinerary here!