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Thoughts About Best Time to Take Empire Builder?


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#1 wintersummer

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 06:54 PM

We're considering an upcoming trip on the Empire Builder. We will only be able to make the trip during one of the following timeframes:

July 1 - 7
Aug 18-Sept 2
Sept 15-Sept 23
Oct 1 - Oct 7

We prefer travel "off-season"; in other words, when things aren't so crowded. Is there such a thing with Amtrak travel, times when trains are traditionally less crowded than other times?

#2 AlanB

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 07:26 PM

Yes, there is such a thing as off season for Amtrak. Basically, just avoid summer and dates around major holidays and you're in off peak. The one exception to that rule is the Florida trains, they get lots of snow birds in the spring and the fall.

So of the dates on your list, the best would be the last two.

On the other hand, something to consider is that one of the best things about the train is being able to look out the window as the world rolls by. The later you go, the earlier it gets dark, and therefore the less you get to see. :(

Frankly some of the best times to travel, without crowds, are May and early June. Not suggesting that you want to postpone this trip, but keep that in mind for the future.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#3 D.P. Roberts

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 07:45 PM

If you're talking about this summer, you'd better hurry. There are no bedrooms and only one roomette left on the July 1st westbound Empire Builder, if you want a room in the sleeper.

#4 WICT106

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 08:56 PM

Slow periods for the Empire Builder? In some senses, there are no true "off" seasons for the Builder - it only varies from somewhat busy to quite busy, depending on the time of year. Between January 15 to the end of February can be slow, and so can the period of October to Thanksgiving.

Edited by WICT106, 28 May 2007 - 08:56 PM.

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#5 Dakguy201

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 05:49 AM

I think the Great Plains and the mountain west are the most beautiful in the spring. However, since that is not among your options, I think I would choose October, primarily because the young kids will be back in school and not on the train by that time.

#6 wintersummer

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 07:56 PM

We're considering an upcoming trip on the Empire Builder. We will only be able to make the trip during one of the following timeframes:

July 1 - 7
Aug 18-Sept 2
Sept 15-Sept 23
Oct 1 - Oct 7

We prefer travel "off-season"; in other words, when things aren't so crowded. Is there such a thing with Amtrak travel, times when trains are traditionally less crowded than other times?


Original poster here! You all have given me so much good information, that I'm about ready to book the trip. One tip I received was to travel during full moon. Another tip was to not travel too late in season, because I'll loose all the good daylight hours. With those two bits of info, I've settled on Chicago to Pasco, WA, leaving on August 27 (full moon on August 28).

Here's my question: we really like traveling when things are not "crazy", just more laid back. On the other hand, we don't like traveling when there's no one around. That's why I asked about the off-season. One responder mentioned that there's never really a quite season on the EB, because of it's popularity. Do you think there's significant difference in what train would be like during late August to mid-Sept? I've ruled out October. Thanks!

#7 AlanB

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 10:07 PM

Original poster here! You all have given me so much good information, that I'm about ready to book the trip. One tip I received was to travel during full moon. Another tip was to not travel too late in season, because I'll loose all the good daylight hours. With those two bits of info, I've settled on Chicago to Pasco, WA, leaving on August 27 (full moon on August 28).

Here's my question: we really like traveling when things are not "crazy", just more laid back. On the other hand, we don't like traveling when there's no one around. That's why I asked about the off-season. One responder mentioned that there's never really a quite season on the EB, because of it's popularity. Do you think there's significant difference in what train would be like during late August to mid-Sept? I've ruled out October. Thanks!


I suspect that you'd find the train slightly less full in mid-September by comparison to late August, but not significantly so. And the loss of daylight in those intervening weeks could be significant. Much more so than the amount of people on the train.

Even Disney World drops it's prices during the last week and a half of August, as less people are traveling at that point (compared to July and early August), since so many schools are now starting class before Labor Day.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!



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