It is a misty morning within the PNW because the Amtrak Cascades prepare rolls into the station. The sound of its whistle is heard first, moments earlier than the define of the large engine is seen coming down the tracks to a full cease.
We’re gathered with fellow vacationers on the platform, our breath forming small cloud puffs as we exhale, rising to combine with the foggy air. There aren’t any snaking safety traces. Strangers greet one another with nods and smiles. Just a little chatter breaks up the calm. Actually, it appears the one factor lacking (should you can name it that) is the stress so usually linked to touring.
We method the ready passenger vehicles, pulling up the e-tickets on our telephones, because the assistant conductor greets us with, “Welcome aboard!”
“All Aboard” Made Simple
We used the Washington State Division of Transportation (WSDOT) app loaded onto our smartphones from begin to end on this journey. It is a fantastic format to make your reservations, buy tickets, plus verify arrival and departure instances. The WSDOT app is free and simple to navigate.
Professional tip: Keep in mind there are two Vancouvers that may pop up when scheduling your vacation spot. Amtrak Cascades additionally companies Vancouver, Washington. For this tour, we chosen the Canadian cease.
Our Amtrak Cascades prepare is headed north from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. with stops in Edmonds, Everett, Stanwood, Mount Vernon, and Bellingham. Amtrak Cascades has resumed each day routes to Canada after two years of absence because of the pandemic.
On Board and Seated
On board, we rapidly discover two seats alongside the left aspect of the prepare for the very best viewing, conscious that this scenic, northbound trip follows rail traces alongside the Salish Sea. These tracks had been as soon as lumber routes, requiring them to be near the shoreline making for some spectacular landscapes. Gaze throughout the Puget Sound framed in by the Olympic Mountains, or spot a flock of snow geese dotting the fertile fields of the Skagit Valley in a blanket of white. Look east to see a snow-capped Mount Baker beckon from the Cascade Mountain Vary, the namesake for this prepare route. Look west for pretty scenic views of the San Juan Islands, whereas lightheartedly dashing by the watery inlets of Bellingham Bay.
The coach cabin on the Amtrak Cascades is 2 seats per row on both aspect of the aisle, which means there isn’t any center seat! There’s ample leg house, together with plug-ins in your gadgets. Cost up these electronics whilst you stare out the image window pondering life’s questions or atone for a little bit relaxation whereas Amtrak Cascades does the driving.
It’s pretty to have sufficient house to place a bag at our toes and nonetheless really feel comfy. For our extra belongings, we stowed these above us within the overhead compartment. Passengers are additionally free to maneuver in regards to the prepare vehicles for a little bit extra room, a change of surroundings or to go to the Café Automotive.
The Café Automotive Is Open
Who does not love snacks throughout a highway journey? There will not be any site visitors jams to take a seat in however there are snacks aboard the prepare.
We introduced our personal snacks for a train-style picnic, then headed as much as the Café Automotive to discover extra choices. Among the best issues about driving the prepare is you could deliver your personal meals and non-alcoholic drinks aboard after which complement with choices from the Café Automotive. Earlier than you intend to deliver something throughout the border, you should definitely check restrictions.
Situated on the entrance of the prepare, the Café Automotive boasts a Pacific Northwest theme and a bevy of beverage choices, together with domestically roasted coffees, liquor, beers, ciders and wines. You should buy quite a lot of dishes, relying in your palate and dietary wants. There are blue corn vegan tamales, mac and cheese skillet, burgers, tacos and the long-lasting Ivar’s clam chowder. For a lighter fare, there are snacks to munch on like hummus with pretzel chips, a cheese and cracker tray or the nice ol’ standby of potato chips. On this case, it’s Tim’s Cascade chips that we add as a aspect to our home made sandwiches, how becoming!
Arriving In Vancouver
Identical to that, our four-hour prepare trip is coming to an in depth. We go by the Peace Arch and are formally in Canada. Outdoors our window is White Rock, B.C. and its longest pier. Subsequent cease: downtown Vancouver.
When requested why passengers select Amtrak Cascades, Assistant Conductor Chad mentioned, “If you wish to get someplace quick, take a airplane. If you wish to get there low-cost, take a bus. However if you wish to benefit from the trip, go away that to us and take the prepare.”
The perfect factor about Amtrak Cascades is precisely that. The journey itself is as a lot an journey because the vacation spot. It’s an fascinating expertise, one the place the world is seen from a distinct viewpoint. One the place you’ll be able to stretch out studying a superb e book, chill listening to good music and revel in some favourite snacks, all whereas cozied up in a snug seat, leisurely viewing the world outdoors your window. Maybe a murmuration of sea birds will startle because the prepare goes by, flying up into formation on the wind, as they did for us.
Pacific Central Station
Stepping off the prepare and onto the platform, we head for the queue forming close to the Border Patrol terminal, which is positioned contained in the prepare station. With passports in hand, we step as much as the desk, reply just a few questions and are instructed, “Take pleasure in your keep in Canada.” On the return journey, the prepare will make an introduced cease proper after crossing the U.S. border. That is to permit Border Patrol officers to board the prepare and clear customs.
In 28 hours, we shall be returning to Pacific Central Station for our return journey dwelling. There’s a ticketing sales space at this station the place we’ll verify in 60 minutes previous to our 5:45 p.m. prepare. Then, once more go by means of customs with just a few questions. “Have a superb journey dwelling,” we’re instructed, “and benefit from the trip.”
What’s On Observe
At the moment, Amtrak Cascades affords three spherical journeys between Seattle and Portland, two spherical journeys between Portland and Eugene and one spherical journey with Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.
On March 6, Amtrak Cascades will add another spherical journey between Seattle and B.C. in addition to another between Seattle and Portland, benefiting those that dwell south of Seattle with a extra direct journey to Canada.
WSDOT recently announced the rollout of a brand new fleet of Northwest-themed Amtrak Cascades trains linking Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.
“Eight new trainsets and two new locomotives will arrive within the Pacific Northwest in 2026,” WSDOT mentioned. This fleet of locomotives goals to raise the Amtrak expertise whereas preserving the setting entrance and heart with extra gasoline effectivity and producing considerably much less air air pollution.
Uncover extra about Amtrak Cascades here.
MaryRose Denton is a contract author for Seattle Refined. Whereas the merchandise, companies and/or lodging on this story had been offered with out cost, the opinions inside are these of the creator and the Seattle Refined editorial board.