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Has anyone taken the Empire Builder from Chicago to Glacier NP?
Old 09-01-2013, 07:33 AM   #1
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Has anyone taken the Empire Builder from Chicago to Glacier NP?

We saw a program the other night on the Travel Channel about various train rides, and one that looked really interesting was the Empire Builder from Chicago to Glacier National Park.

Have any of you guys taken it? What are the pro's and con's? was it enjoyable?

Thank you

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Old 09-01-2013, 12:12 PM   #2
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I took it just a couple weeks ago from Saint Paul to Seattle. You might want to check out some threads on tripadvisor's train forum. The insights there were more or less confirmed by our trip.

The best things about the trip were the people and the food. The people were incredibly friendly; we sat with different folk--couples, singles, families-- for each meal and in the observation car and everyone was unfailingly nice and interesting. Heard many good stories! Also, the food was excellent. Three big meals per day came with our roomette--a menu to select from for each meal with fabulous selections, including superb steak and seafood. We also had a fun wine and cheese party.

The not-so-great things were, first, the tiny, tiny roomette. I'd always spring for a larger room next time. You can't even breathe in the roomette, although we did sleep pretty well. The second not-so-great thing is the scenery. It is, frankly, very boring through the vast majority of MN, ND, and Montana. It only got interesting toward Glacier, although we were 3 hours late by that time and it was already too dark to see. It was interesting, then, the next day as we entered the Cascades.

Lots of people were making the trip to Glacier and got out just as we were bedding down for the night. It appears that the train is nearly always late--the oil boom in Williston ND is hogging the tracks, evidently. So plan accordingly.

All in all, we were glad we did it. But we flew home from Seattle and were also glad we had planned to do that.

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Old 09-01-2013, 03:39 PM   #3
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I'm hoping to. I find the Amtrak Unlimited Discussion forum to be very interesting. Also, AmSnag can help you find good prices if you are flexible. It's pretty amazing how prices on Amtrak differ on different days.
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Old 09-01-2013, 05:18 PM   #4
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I agree that the Amtrak discussion forum is very helpful.
Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

I've been on several routes twice. Sunset limited, Texas eagle, and part of the Coast starlight. I normally get a roomette, but decided to try a full bedroom on one leg of my past trip to see what I thought. I believe now that I actually prefer the roomette. The full bedroom has it's pluses, but (to me) was less comfortable during the day, and every bit as cramped at night with the bunks in place. And of course, the roomette is more affordable.

Amtrak trains always have to yield to freight carriers. I understand that at one time this was a huge problem for Amtrak and their scheduling, but things are much improved now.
I'd also recommend making your reservations as soon as possible.
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