58 In Colorado/ North America/ US Travel Tips/ Utah

First impressions of the Amtrak & Why you should choose to travel on it!

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.

amtrak 1

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.

amtrak 4

amtrak 3

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!

amtrak 5

amtrak 7

amtrak 11

amtrak 12

amtrak 6

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.

amtrak 9

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.

amtrak 8

Amtrak Summary

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.

Tips:

  • 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

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Travelling with the Amtrak was the perfect combination on our 2 week US road trip. Here's our impressions and why you should book it too!Travelling with the Amtrak was the perfect combination on our 2 week US road trip. Here's our impressions and why you should book it too!Travel on the Amtrak while exploring the US! Click to read all about our experience and tips for your first time

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!

 

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58 Comments

  • Reply
    savvydispatches
    3rd February 2018 at 9:38 am

    I’ve taken trains in 11 countries but I’ve never taken a train in the US – even though it’s my home country! I just never thought of it as an option for some reason. But this article is making me consider doing some journeys by Amtrak when I return home. Thank you! 🙂

    • Reply
      SamiM Adventures
      3rd February 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Literally my exact thoughts! I never knew America had decent trains!!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:21 am

      Great to hear! I have a similar experience with trains in the UK – i’ve hardly taken them so no idea what they are like.

  • Reply
    Anisa
    3rd February 2018 at 9:40 am

    Wow, that does look nice. I have taken Amtrak in the northeast and it is really not good unless you take the Acela which is about the same price as a plane ticket. I would love to do the journey that you did though.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:22 am

      Sounds interesting, I’ll look into it for next time as I want to visit the Northeast next 🙂

  • Reply
    Ana - JauntingTrips.com
    3rd February 2018 at 9:51 am

    I can’t believe those shots you took from the train. That looks amazing! There are some amazing places to hike there!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:23 am

      We were a bit jealous of the hikers actually, as we saw a few couples and familes along the river as we went through with the train. Maybe we will return for those mountains!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    3rd February 2018 at 10:44 am

    Taking Amtrak in one of those panorama cars through gorgeous scenery is something I’ve always wanted to do! Such a cool experience.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:23 am

      Thanks for commenting! We loved it based on the panoramic views! Totally recommended 🙂

  • Reply
    unaveronicavagante
    3rd February 2018 at 11:55 am

    WOW! I’ve always seen this type of train in the movies… it would be a dream to travel on one!
    Thank you for letting me know that they do still exist…
    By the way, I’m in love with the photo with your shows and the unfocused window 🙂

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:24 am

      Haha thank you! I’m slowly improving my photography but it’s not quite the standard I want yet!

  • Reply
    Paola
    3rd February 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Never considered of taking the train in US either, so loved reading about your experience. I am not a fan of sleeping in the train though 😱😱😱

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:25 am

      Yeah I sure strugged with sleeping, but those overnight sleepers would have really helped with a proper bed and blankets!

  • Reply
    TheGlobetrotterGP
    3rd February 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Greeat post – I love travelling by train. You get to see so much!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:25 am

      Thanks for commenting! Totally agree 🙂

  • Reply
    Aarti Kamath
    3rd February 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I am totally a train person and this is a great insight of some new things for me. Btw, those pictures you have taken from the train are really pretty.. you ‘ve got a steady hand indeed :)…

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:26 am

      Thanks for commenting! I think my photography skills really need improving haha! Some parts of the train was a lot slower for the corners so that helped with the steady hand 🙂

  • Reply
    atexanstravels
    3rd February 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Wow! This looks like a fun trip! I’m going to have to give Amtrak a go!

  • Reply
    Ashley Hill
    3rd February 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I have always been intrigued by train travel, but I also always pictured it as tiny, uncomfortable, and loud. I’m glad to hear that I’m not entirely wrong. Also, the photos of the scenery are amazing! I can’t believe those were taken from a train. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:28 am

      Thanks for commenting! Some sections of the journey was slower for the corners so I could really take some focused photos well. I did have some worries of being on a loud uncomfy train with busy sit areas but this really was delightful!

  • Reply
    Lynne Nieman
    3rd February 2018 at 3:19 pm

    As a travel planner I have booked a couple of Amtrak trips for clients…long distance, overnight ones. And I know the one couple really loved it. I have yet to take a train in my home country. Maybe sometime soon. Nice review!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:32 am

      Sounds good! I think the overnight ones would have made our experience even better to get those moments of sleep during our delayed moments. Maybe for next time 😉

  • Reply
    Jessica
    3rd February 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve always wondered about train travel in the US. Sadly, when we lived there we didn’t travel in the country much…and if we did, we drove. But this is great advice. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:30 am

      Yeah I know the feeling! We are very glad that we only did this section with the train and not longer, as with the car you can really explore better. But it was nice for a change on our vacation 🙂

  • Reply
    stellaencina
    3rd February 2018 at 2:59 pm

    What a lovely post! I love it! We don’t have scenic view trains here in the Philippines. Amtrak looks fancy and the views are perfect! I would definitely enjoy such a ride! <3

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:31 am

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂 We’d definitely recommend it if it suits your itinerary!

  • Reply
    kylieuk
    3rd February 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I’d love to do a journey like this, the observation deck looks awesome!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:31 am

      It sure was!! 🙂

  • Reply
    kaytherunaway
    3rd February 2018 at 3:29 pm

    You know, riding Amtrak is one thing I’ve never done in the US. I’ve come close, but never ended up booking. My first train ride was in Europe at age 20. I definitely am a fan of train travel now for similar reasons that you’ve mentioned here so I can imagine riding Amtrak in the future!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:33 am

      If it suits your itinerary I would definitely recommend it. As our first time we were sure impressed and enjoyed the ride. I think it is definitely a big difference from the trains here in Europe. I also once did an overnight train from Prague to Budapest which was also very enjoyable, but much smaller though!

  • Reply
    tashasoyster
    3rd February 2018 at 3:48 pm

    My parents took a trip for the Rocky Mountain’s and absolutely loved it! I love how some of the seats are facing the windows.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for commenting!! These seats were definitely the best ones and we thought they would all be taken throughout the journey but there was always some space for people to move around and enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristi (@daytriptips)
    3rd February 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve never considered Amtrak but really should consider. I had no idea how much you can see by traveling that way! Love that the seats face the windows!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:36 am

      Of course you are limited to your set itinerary but it sure was a great experience to travel by Amtrak. Those seats were definitely the best ones in the train!!

  • Reply
    Scarlett | Petite Suitcase
    3rd February 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I take the train all the time in Italy, but have never really thought about taking it back home in the US. Those windows are definitely a grade above your average Italian train ; )

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:38 am

      Haha yes I agree! I’m very used to trains in Europe for vacations but it was a lovely new experience to try the Amtrak with those seats facing the panoramic windows!

  • Reply
    Corinne L Simpson
    3rd February 2018 at 4:45 pm

    This looks great. I never knew about this before but will look into it.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:38 am

      Totally recommended if it ever fits your itinerary!

  • Reply
    EpicuriousPassport
    3rd February 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I love taking trains ride, but for some reason I have never considered it in the USA. But your post tells me I should give it a try! Love those big windows and will remember to take some warm clothes to keep warm in the nights.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:39 am

      Yeah warm clothes for the evening sure are needed, but if you ever travel on the Amtrak for the full night I would definitely look into a sleeper cabin for a better nights sleep too!

  • Reply
    Hannah Stein
    3rd February 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Although I’m from the US I’ve only traveled on Amtrak a few times. Those experiences were fine but just short ones so I can’t say I could make a comment on it one way or other. This is good to know! I really should utilize the train more!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:42 am

      Thanks for commenting! We definitely enjoyed our time on it (even with the delays) and would love to go on it again if it fits our itinerary. The couple I met at dinner had a sleeper and were travelling for 3 days long on it, and were enjoying it very much so I think it can be a great experience for a longer time.

  • Reply
    thecurioussparrow
    3rd February 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Beautiful scenery! I’ve never travelled in a train like that before – it’s so cool that the windows go so high.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:42 am

      It sure was a great experience!!

  • Reply
    thatanxioustraveller
    3rd February 2018 at 5:38 pm

    I was really interested to read this – I first saw the Amtrak routes on a BBC documentary, and I wondered how it’d be to travel around America on it. Now I know that it’s a good experience (I love those observation carriages!), I’m quite tempted! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:43 am

      Thanks for commenting! I never saw a BBC doc about it but from our experience it sure is recommended! Though a sleeper is totally worth it if you are travelling overnight or for longer than a day!

  • Reply
    Kiara Gallop
    3rd February 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I love train travel so I would totally do this! (although I’m also a light sleeper so would definitely opt for the sleeper carriages if travelling overnight, along with earplugs and an eye mask!) The panoramic carriages look amazing 😀

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:45 am

      Yeah as a light sleeper i’d totally recommend a sleeper! They looked so comfy compared to our seats as well as more private to work/read/sleep without distractions of people walking past or other guests. Through we were okay for this as it wasn’t very busy.

  • Reply
    Kathi Kamleitner
    3rd February 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Wow, I had no idea Amtrak trains had panorama carriage! I love a good scenic train ride – a good alternative to renting a car!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:46 am

      Yeah it fitted our itinerary perfect so we were glad to have booked it! Sitting in the panoramic carriage sure was the best bit out of our journey! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah Shumate
    3rd February 2018 at 10:41 pm

    We’ve never traveled by Amtrak before, but when we lived in London, we took the Eurostar fairly often and the train lines through the UK and that’s when I fell in love with train travel! I’d definitely give Amtrak a go!!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:48 am

      Ah I love the Eurostar, I live in Rotterdam, NL at the moment and from this summer the Eurostar will be coming all the way to Amsterdam to London so I can’t wait to travel back to London with it! As for the Amtrak, was so nice with the panoramic carriage that we’d definitely recommend it if it ever fits your itinerary in America!

  • Reply
    Michelle
    3rd February 2018 at 10:49 pm

    Although we have traveled extensively by train in Europe, we have never gone on a train in the U.S. It looks like you all had a great time and got to see some pretty scenery. Maybe I need to look into Amtrak!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:48 am

      Thanks for commenting! If it fits your itinerary then the Amtrak is a great experience 🙂 It’s definitely a different experience from the european trains.

  • Reply
    Jacqueline
    4th February 2018 at 8:52 am

    This sounds like a great way to explore the country! Thanks for sharing! Love the pictures and the scenery, must have been a great experience!!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for commenting! We sure had fun 🙂

  • Reply
    Ticket to Adventures
    4th February 2018 at 4:18 pm

    I have never travelled by Amtrak but would be happy to give it a try when in the US. I always prefer train over coach as it is so much more comforable. Looks like you had a very scenic train journey!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      5th February 2018 at 9:50 am

      If the Amtrak fits your itinerary i’d definitely recommend! We’ve done both coach and train vacations through europe and both can be enjoyable, but those panoramic carraiges had the idea sold instantly when we bought the tickets!

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