A Train Ride with a View

a train ride with a view

There is no sweeter way to travel than by train.  The ability to sit and watch the world go by in comfort is one of the many reasons why I love to travel by train when at all possible.  So when I decided to travel up the US West Coast this past spring I knew how I would get from city to city – Amtrak.  Many people asked, “why don’t you rent a car?”  But I knew I wanted convenience, the ability to sit back and enjoy the ride and as a solo traveller I wanted the chance to meet fellow travellers on their own journey.  And the number one reason I chose to ride Amtrak was because I wanted a train ride with a view.

California beach

When I first stepped on in San Diego and headed for my seat I was blown away by the sheer space each individual seat was given, the seat was comfortable and the leg room was endless – granted I’m only 5’1″ – but no one seemed uncomfortable.  I settled in to my window seat and assumed my window gazing position.  I’m a watch the scenery go by kinda gal but WOW! they weren’t kidding about the amazing views that travelling along California’s coast offers.  My first ride was from San Diego to Santa Barbara on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner and even though it had free Wi-Fi I just couldn’t tear myself away from the window for the entire six-hour train ride.  When most of us think of California we think of beaches, sun and fantastic cities like San Diego and San Francisco, but I was amazed by the varying landscapes along this route.  From beaches to rugged, rocky terrain and rolling green hills to mountains – this was definitely a train ride with a view.

rugged terrain

The next three trains I took were on the Coast Starlight, just as comfortable but sadly no Wi-Fi, which really sucked considering the long haul, it was 10 hours from Santa Barbara to San Francisco and a whopping day and a half from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, but thank goodness for the views.  All I remember was the endless landscapes of farms, quaint little towns, and breathtaking scenery that you could get lost in as if you were engrossed in an epic tale – well that epic tale WAS my journey up the US West Coast.  I couldn’t fathom that this was all in one country.

rolling green hills

Along the San Francisco to Portland route through the Cascade Range in Oregon Amtrak partnered with Klamath County Museum to bring two tour guides aboard to talk about the beautiful landscape, the route’s history and some of the highlights along the way, all in the observation car (a section of the train with floor to ceiling windows and comfortable seating looking out at the passing landscape).  What a great way to learn more and better appreciate the scenery.  From Mount Shasta by Klamath Falls and Upper Klamath lake, which is the largest lake in Oregon, onwards through Williamson River Gorge and forests full of large Ponderosa pine trees, we were regaled with stories of the landscape and outstanding scenery that left me in awe.

mountainThe Coast Starlight passes over the crest of the Cascade Mountain Range, at almost 5,000 feet and continues through a 10 mile stretch known as ‘Tunnel Alley’ where waterfalls are there to greet you after dark tunnel crossings as well as spectacular views as the train maneuvers horseshoe bends.  From Eugene to Portland, Oregon you travel through the Williamette River Valley with gorgeous lush greenery, pastures full of sweet sheep, and rivers and marshes full of brilliant bird life and endless breathtaking panoramas.

My train ride up the US West Coast was on of the most memorable experiences of my US West Coast Adventure and the experience was on par with my many train travels throughout Europe, with a couple big differences it was very budget-friendly and very comfortable!  If you’re looking for an amazing train ride with a view that will take your breath away, leave you speechless and with hundreds of photos then consider hitching a ride on one or all of Amtrak’s fantastic West Coast trains – it will be a journey of astounding vistas!

Where was your favourite train ride?

A Train Ride with a View

Weekend Wanderlust

This post is part of the #WeekendWanderlust series hosted by these amazing travel bloggers.  Today I am linking up with A Southern Gypsy.  Check them out for great reads!


I'm a Canadian gal with a passion for wildlife, the great outdoors and travel and hope to inspire others to feel the same way! Travelling mostly solo I love to explore Ontario Gems in my own backyard as well as exotic cities around the world.

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13 Responses

  1. We love train travel, in fact we are headed up to Scandinavia via Eurail pass right now. Hopefully it will be high on our list of best trains with a view. Coast Starlight is certainly up there, as are the Empire Builder and California Zephyr.

  2. Anthony says:

    I think you made the right choice. As much as I like driving, I don’t think you get to appreciate the views as much–you do have to keep your eyes on the road, after all.
    Your pictures are fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing. You have definitely made me want to book a train trip.

  3. Joyce says:

    I must say your description of your train ride made me feel like I was there with you and your way with words is easy to picture myself riding the rails which I love thank you.

  4. Oh, travelling by train is fantastic. There’s nothing quite like the view from a train! I once took the Coast Starlight, many years ago (18 years ago). Sadly, and stupidly, I never took any photos. Oh, how I so regret that now! But I do remember the view from the train. I will have to take the Coast Starlight again, some day!

  5. Frankly, I’m glad they don’t have WiFi on trains. I’ve travelled across India in trains and I have to say the changing scenes always amaze me. Lovely to read this blog post and I really liked the photos.

  6. John says:

    I couldn’t agree more, trains really are the best way to travel! Great post.

  7. Naomi says:

    Thank you for your blog post Stephanie. Now I have to go back to my train bucket list and add this train journey too! It sounds amazing and your pictures are gorgeous! I think train travel is the best way to travel and you captured it brilliantly.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thanks so much Naomi! I agree train travel is the best way to travel and when you get a chance to do this ride I know you’ll be glued to your window too!

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