By Rail

Dispatches from the transportation that built America. Amtrak route guides, train travel itineraries, train history, and culture.

Amtrak USA Rail Pass: See The Country By Train On A Budget

If you’ve ever wanted to travel the country by train but were put off by the cost, the Amtrak USA Rail Pass is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Amtrak recently debuted an updated version of this pass, and we’re taking a look at what you need to know.

Amtrak USA Rail Pass – New Pass, Same Value And Savings

Amtrak USA Rail Pass

Amtrak relaunched its multi-segment pass program in late spring 2021. The Amtrak USA Rail Pass isn’t the first pass the company has offered in its five decades of operation. Previously, Amtrak offered 8-segment, 12-segment, and 18-segment offerings at various prices, which needed to be used in 15 to 45 days. The closest comparable offering was a 12-segment, 30-day pass that cost nearly $600 for adults, or slightly under $50 per segment. The current pass provides a similar value, at $50 per trip segment.

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7 Days On Amtrak’s California Zephyr

Via Flickr

The California Zephyr is one of Amtrak’s most popular long-distance trains – and with very good reason. It’s Amtrak’s longest route, cutting a westward track from Chicago, across the plains and the Rockies, to California. Join us as we hit the rails on a seven-day journey through the iconic American cities and scenery that line this historic route.

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Amtrak Long Distance Service: Finally Back To Normal!

As the threat of COVID-19 continues to recede and the country re-opens, Amtrak is following suit with its long-distance routes. And the changes mean easier travel planning for your next trip!

COVID-19 Forces Amtrak Long Distance Changes

Amtrak Long Distance Routes

Like every other form of travel, Amtrak saw ridership plummet following the nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns. By their own estimates, 80% fewer passengers took the train in the first half of 2020. This forced the rail service to reduce trains on some of its less-traveled routes, including long-distance favorites like the California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Crescent, and City of New Orleans. All of these and a half-dozen others were reduced from daily service to tri-weekly in October 2020.

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Monday Morning Moment: Near Gilroy, CA

Gilroy, CA Garlic Fields From Amtrak Coast Starlight
Just South Of Gilroy, CA – Sept. 2018

Good morning. This picture was taken from an Amtrak Coast Starlight train south of Gilroy, CA, in September 2018.

The Coast Starlight runs all the way from Seattle to Los Angeles. Over a day and a half, it passes through some incredible scenery, including these fields at the southern edge of the Santa Clara Valley. The entire ride is one of the best ways to see the incredible and varied geography of the west coast. It’s also a great route to connect a cross-country Amtrak trip arriving in Portland, Seattle, Emeryville/San Francisco, or Los Angeles to other cities up and down the coast.

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The Ultimate Guide to Amtrak Cross-Country Travel

Amtrak cross-country train turning a corner

It was one of the original methods for bridging the vast expanses of a young United States – the railroad. The age of the freeway and discount air travel may have ended rail’s status as top dog in the travel world. But train travel is still very much alive for those willing to seek out a little adventure. Long-distance and cross-country rail travel can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget. But if you’re like many people intrigued by the idea, the logistics may be holding you back. We’re taking a look at everything you need to know for a successful and fun trip on Amtrak cross-country.

Can You Travel Cross-Country By Amtrak Train?

Yes, and no. Let me explain.

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