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Best Travel Direction on Empire Builder

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Poll: Best Travel Direction on Empire Builder

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Which direction of travel offers the best views on the Empire Builder?

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#1 swedestralian


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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:32 PM

I'm going to be taking a fall getaway on the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle/Portland over the last weekend in September or first weekend in October. Does travelling in one direction offer better views than the other? From what I can tell, either direction through the Rockies past Glacier National Park and much of the eastern parts too on the nighttime portions. I've travelled & read enough here to nearly assume that there will be delays somewhere along the line.

I'd like to hear your opinions on the sights that are seen and missed because of nighttime.


ps- A while ago Amtrak had maps that roughly showed which portions of a trip that would be travelled at night but I can't find those anymore. Anybody know where they went?

#2 the_traveler



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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:53 PM

Personally, I try to travel the same direction as the train!Posted Image

Seriously, it's a toss up. Westbound, much of the Mississippi River in WI and MN will be in darkness, the Glacier park area will be in darkness but the crossing of the Cascade Mountains (going to SEA) or the Columbia River Gorge (going to PDX) will be in daylight. Eastbound, it's just the opposite.

Also, on the PDX section because there is no Dining Car, sleeper passengers get a cold meal box. It may sound strange, but I would say the best meal that I've had on Amtrak was the cold dinner box meal I had out of PDX!Posted Image (It is prepared by a PDX gourmet restaurant!) The worst meal I've had on Amtrak is the cold breakfast box meal out of SPK.Posted Image

Edited by the_traveler, 13 August 2012 - 04:02 PM.

Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#3 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 04:04 PM

i don't know which one to vote for! I like it on both directions! I would suggest picking it out of a box or something like that.


#4 N.T.


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Posted 13 August 2012 - 04:36 PM

It MAY depend on if it's summertime or wintertime. In the wintertime it's already dark leaving Seattle eastbound, but usually Glacier is terriffic the next morning as is the Mississippi out to Minneapolis the following morning. I know in the summertime, there is more daylight - both directions, unless the EB is very late westbound where Glacier may be already dark.

#5 Rail Freak

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 04:43 PM

I've done both directions & would say it is a toss up!!!
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#6 fairviewroad



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Posted 13 August 2012 - 05:20 PM

It MAY depend on if it's summertime or wintertime.

Uh, I think the answer is none of the above. OP says "last weekend in September or first weekend in October. "

Assuming an on-time departure from SEA or PDX, at that time of year you would still get a reasonable shot at seeing the Cascades or Columbia Gorge. And you
are basically assured of a daytime Rockies passage going eastbound no matter what time of year. And eastbound you get the Mississippi River during the day.

So I'd say eastbound is definitely the best bet for scenery.

ps- A while ago Amtrak had maps that roughly showed which portions of a trip that would be travelled at night but I can't find those anymore. Anybody know where they went?

Given the Empire Builder's current woes, that map would be a work of fiction at the moment. Hopefully by the end of September things will have improved.

#7 oregon pioneer

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 06:48 PM

If you are late going westbound, more of the Rockies (Glacier NP) will be in the dark.
If you are late going eastbound, more of Glacier NP will be in the daylight.
If you are on time, that part is a tossup, but since you are at least somewhat likely to be late, I vote for eastbound (especially if you like to get up early, and are capable of getting up to watch the view at first light).



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