Keep the Questions Coming.

Let me say right up front that I am more than glad to do my best to answer any question about train travel–especially travel on Amtrak, but I have also logged may hours on VIA Rail in Canada and on many European trains. In he next couple o posts I’ll deal with a few of the questions that have come in over the past few weeks.

Three hours after leaving Denver, the westbound California Zephyr crosses the Rocky Mountains by following the Colorado River through a series of rugged canyons. An hour up ahead is Glenwood Springs, where legendary gunfighter Doc Holiday is buried.

Q: My wife and I would like to take a long-distance train ride. Which one of the Amtrak trains would you recommend as being the most scenic?

A: You didn’t say where you live, which may affect where you board the train, but I have two suggestions for you to consider. The California Zephyr, a daily train originating in Chicago and terminating u Emeryville, across the Bay from San Francisco, is the most scenic of the long-distance trains. And in my opinion, the westbound train is a little better. The morning climb up into the Flatirons out of Denver gives you a great look at how the route was constructed to allow the nearly 4,000-foot ascent to the Moffat Tunnel.  If the eastbound train is running late, it could be dark as you’re descending through that stretch. The Coast Starlight, running daily between Seattle and Los Angeles, offers wonderfully varied scenery and would be my second choice.

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Q: A friend of mine says there are no locks on the doors of the individual sleeping compartments in Amtrak sleeping cars. I would worry about someone coming into my compartment.


A: There is a metal latch on the inside of the doors in every kind of accommodations in Amtrak sleeping cars, both Superliners and Viewliners. The latch secures the door so no one can enter. It is true that there is no way to lock the door when you leave your compartment to go to the lavatory or the dining car, so when I leave my roomette, I remove any expensive item from sight, close the door and pull the curtain closed so no one can see into my roomette. In 30-plus years of Amtrak travel over what I estimate is 300,000 miles, I’ve never had a problem.