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America by Rail

New Jersey, USA
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73 posts
11 reviews
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America by Rail

Has anyone ever taken a tour of the US using the tour company "America by Rail"? What was your experience? Would like to try a train tour but know nothing about train tour travel.

Anyone with a train tour company with good experience with another tour company?

73 replies to this topic
Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
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15,093 posts
110 reviews
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1. Re: America by Rail

I've seen them on The Empire Builder and The California Zephyr. They seem to run a good tour. However, in looking at their schedules they do not allow time in any city they visit. ie: day 4 is SF (Emeryville) to Seattle and day 5 is Seattle enroute to Vancouver BC. Where's the stop over days to enjoy Seattle? Likewise Sacramento to Yosemite on day 4 and Sacramento to Denver on Day 5! What time do you have in Yosemite if you're spending the day on the San Joaquin Valley train doing a round trip from/to Sacto? They have one your that takes you from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas and then to Merced CA. What they don't tell you ( I couldn't find it on their web site) is that there is no train between those destinations. They use a bus. They use Amtrak routes and buses. IMHO you are better off planning your own trip on Amtrak. Amtrak does use buses between points not served by trains but they run their own dedicated Amtrak buses so there is some level of control.

What of you want to spend 2 days in SF or three days in Seattle and the tour doesn't allow the time? Go to www.amtrak.com and download the routes of the tour and you can sort out how much is bus ( points not served by Amtrak).

If you are a non- English speaking or English as a second language tourist then by all means use these companies for the bi- lingual guides they have - just be sure that there is a language translator/ speaker on your specific tour.

Chambersburg, PA
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29 posts
15 reviews
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2. Re: America by Rail

I have taken two tours with America by Rail and thoroughly enjoyed them. If you enjoy planning and doing things on your own, obviously they are not for you but if you like the convenience of having someone else worry about your baggage and all the details, the do an excellent tour.

We have spent more than one day in several places on tour, including Yosemite on one tour. I thought the brochure was pretty clear as to when you would travel by train and when by bus. Obviously, they have to use buses to get to many places. They also use excellent hotels. Other than the fact that Roomettes are rather tiny (not the fault of Am by Rail) and someone has to crawl into that upper bunk, the tours are very enjoyable: train portion, bus portion, hotels, etc. are all well-planned with excellent guides.

New Jersey, USA
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73 posts
11 reviews
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3. Re: America by Rail

Thank you for the info.

New Jersey, USA
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73 posts
11 reviews
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4. Re: America by Rail

Thank you for the info.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8,130 posts
36 reviews
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5. Re: America by Rail

Maybe you'd find a DIY tour just as enjoyable, especially if you buy a multi-day rail pass. I did Milwaukee to Whitefish, MT via the Empire Builder last March and will be doing Milwaukee to SoCal in May via the SW Chief . . . and cannot wait!

Evanston, Wyoming
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for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
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6. Re: America by Rail

I too took a glance at a few of America By Rail's packages, and they do seem to offer an excellent quality product, stay at good hotels, etc.. But their itinerary is a bit rushed IMO. For example their "Canyonlands" package has you traveling to both Bryce Canyon AND Zion National Parks in one day, when you really need at least 3 days to do those parks justice (ideally 2 days at Zion, 1 at Bryce).

If you'd prefer a more leisurely experience, perhaps take TimeshareVon's advice and buy a multi-day pass, or work with a travel agency that specializes in custom itineraries for independent travelers. "Accent on Travel" is one such company I found just doing a quick search http://www.accentontravelusa.com/ RailLinks.com also has a directory of rail travel specialists (including America by Rail).

Naperville, Illinois
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6 posts
68 reviews
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7. Re: America by Rail

Have taken 4 America by Rail tours. Enjoy train travel and this is a good reliable company. If you have any questions about its tours let me know and I'll respond.

MaineUSA
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8. Re: America by Rail

If you have the time and inclination, I'd take stab at designing one yourself. I took an on line Amtrak timetable and outlined a two week trip that started in Boston and included the Lake Shore, Empire Builder, Pacific Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief and Lake Shore. Included were stops in Whitefish, Seattle, LA and Flagstaff. I put it all on a spreadsheet and sent it off to a travel agent in Whitefish MT that I found on the internet. Heidi of Flathead Travel made the train reservations (we had a roomette) booked the rental car in Whitefish and booked the hotels. We took organized tours in Seattle and Flagstaff and I arranged those my self. We had one minor glitch due to a delayed Lake Shore Limited at the start, but Flathead took care of the changes and we had a terriffic experience.

That being said, we used a tour company to put together our semi independent rail excursion last spring to Austria, Prague and Budapest.

New Orleans...
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9. Re: America by Rail

Have you taken the trip Yellowstone/Glacier discovery with America by Rail? How was it? We are traveling from Chicago.

Naperville, Illinois
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10. Re: America by Rail

Have not taken that trip by America by Rail but have gone to Glacier on Amtrak. It's a pleasant ride up to Minneapolis and then across to Montana. Both Glacier and Yellowstone are worth visiting. If you haven't been there go for it. Have you traveled on Amtrak. If not be aware the roomettes are cramped. Check the dimensions on the Amtrak.com website. Bedrooms are roomier but more expensive. Or you can travel coach--seats are like airline first class ones and you will travel only one night.

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