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USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

Petersburg, Virginia
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USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

I plan to travel from VA to Portland,OR and back taking 6 wks beginning mid-Sept. Don't want to drive whole way so thinking train as much as possible.

Planning trip VA to Portland, OR and back starting mid-Sept 2015. Allowing 6-7 wks. Want to see as much of country as can. Don't want to travel whole way alone by car so thinking train. Train doesn't go all places for instance how to get to Mt.Rushmore? Thinking will have to do combo driving. Looked at rail pass but have read several posts here saying might not be best for high traffic seasons or routes. Also see advice here to get roomette for longer trips. Is it as economical as breaking trip and getting a hotel room? Family in Louisville, KY but no train service. Could drive from here to there then get train in Chicago. Anyone have experience with one way car rentals? My planning very early but also read book early for best rates. Yellowstone also on list. How on train? Appreciate any info.

h

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

You need to look at the Empire Builder. No trains go to Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, ... You'll have to plan side trip in rental cars. Go to www.amtrak.com and download the EB schedule.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

Wait, 6-7 weeks... Why Mt Rushmore? Download the Crescent schedule from www.amtrak.com (5 stations in VA) to New Orleans. The Sunset Limited through Texas (San Antonio, Houston), and Palm Springs Ca into LA. Then take the Coast Starlight to Portland. Stop in SF. If you want a great side trip take a San Joaquin train from Emeryville CA(SF) to Merced and visit Yosemite Valley. Or take a bus tour of the wine country from SF. Or stop off in Santa Barbara or San Luis Opispo (Hearst castle) or Monterey/Carmel via Salinas on the Coast Starlight route. Take the Empire Builder from Portland to Chicago and transfer to the Cardinal back to Virginia.

Petersburg, Virginia
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3. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

Thanks for the info. Will check it out. What about hotel v roomette? I noticed you have suggested roomette before.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

There is only one train per day, or in the case of the Sunset one train every other day. You have to sleep on the train. Go to www.amtrak.com and download the pertinent schedules.

Jackson, Ohio
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5. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

since you will be in the neighborhood and are not adverse to renting a car,,, one of the most spectacular things, at least to me in California, is the Hearst Castle at San Simeon. Get off at Paso Robles (I believe) and make the drive to the coast. Make sure you book the Castle tour tickets early, It gives me the same feeling of going to Jefferson's Monticello,,,

Petersburg, Virginia
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6. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

Thanks for suggestion. I'll put it on my list.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

The San Simeon station is San Luis Obispo. (at least that's the one Hearst used). SLO has much better selection of hotels/motels (including the wild Madonna Inn). More car rentals available and you would drive out the Osos Valley to Morro Bay and then up hwy 1 through Cambria to San Simeon/Hearst Castle. If you're going to visit the area you can use SLO for your base and drive up Questa Grade to visit Paso Robles, or head south to Pismo Beach for some body surfing and clamming. The area is California's newest wine country so stop at some local winerys while you're there.

As Eric suggests, you can do it from Paso Robles but it is a smaller town and car rental is difficult and the trip over the Santa Maria Coastal range IMO tedious and boooring. You'll want to check out both options.

Jackson, Ohio
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8. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

i stand corrected,,,, but I was also headed over the hills to Yosemite,,, no matter how you get there it is worth the day

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

Yeah, that sounds right. Cambria to Paso on hwy 46 and hwy 41 from just east of Paso Robles to El Portal. Dang, your good, Eric.

Petersburg, Virginia
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10. Re: USA cross-country trip fall 2015 by rail and car advice

Thanks so much. Will look into Hearst Castle. Also would like to see Yosemite. I have downloaded the route maps and timetables. Having fun looking/planning. Do the times change much by season? I don't want to spend a lot of time planning when I won't really go until next Sept. So far have figured leave CZ in SLC to get car to Yellowstone. Since want to spend a night in every state (11 to go) will stop in Idaho Falls on the way. I want to see Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, but am not a hiker so don't think will take buy 2 days each. I will check the city forum but wonder if Portland is easy to do without a car? shallow_shoals do you have an opinion on transit if want to see both Santa Fe and Alburquerque? Am dashing all around but will settle in a bit on true itinerary. Thinking take train to Memphis then get car to see Little Rock (Clinton Library) and Hot Springs. Or could get off in Little Rock and drive to Memphis. Get back on Texas Eagle to see Austin. I have loads of time but not loads of money. Will eventually have to narrow things down. Right now know I will travel length of CZ and lot of CS. Have seen Grand Canyon before but never have taken Grand Canyon Railroad. Is it a scenic ride? Used to live in Chicago and still have friends there so will be there 3-5 days. Bean came after I moved but have seen it and would like to see it again. Also love Greektown and theater. I will check back in here time to time. Is there an easy way to find train trip reports? Thanks