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Across America by Rail

The Man in Seat Sixty-One told us it was one of the Top 10 Train Journeys in the World. And when the Man in Seat Sixty-One says that, you listen. (What’s that? You don’t know who he is? He’s a fount of knowledge about train travel all over the world – he’s saved us from dodgy trains all across South-East Asia and Europe and somehow manages to have a handle on train travel in every continent. Bookmark the site now!)

It sounded pretty epic. From Chicago to San Francisco on the California Zephyr: 51 hours 20 minutes across two nights, three days, passing through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, across the Mississippi River, across the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City and through the Colorado Canyons (I’m pretty sure I got that order wrong, though – that’s what a few days of train travel will do for you!)

You can choose whether to take a seat that reclines (don’t do it) or a roomette, or a more spacious room. We chose the roomette and got two giant chairs next to a picture window, that then converted into bunks at night. There was a shared shower and bathroom, plenty of tea, coffee and water, and all our meals were included. The first day of meals was pretty exciting, but I have to admit that by day 3 the Amtrak burger was starting to taste a little too familiar…

And was it one of the world’s most beautiful train trips? Yes. Certainly as far as I can imagine. It was absolutely breathtaking – from desert to high mountain, along rivers that only kayakers and the train can reach, through the most vast and lovely landscapes and through cities and towns. It was a view of America like I’ve never seen it before, and I loved every minute of it.

Want to cross the whole of the USA? Think about doing it by rail…

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