Running 467 miles from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia, the Amtrak Cascades is one of the most popular, and beautiful rides in all of America’s rail system.
A Little History on the Amtrak Cascades
What is considered the Cascades now has gone through quite a few iterations over the last forty years. Originally, back in the early 1970s the full route now was actually comprise of three separate trains that would travel between just Portland and Seattle.
Eventually, a few years later, the leg was extended into Vancouver, British Columbia. This route became increasingly popular, and was famous in its own right for a time as being one of only a handful of trains that included viewing cars in the Amtrak fleet.
It was not until the late 1990s that the route runs as you see it today, from Eugene to Vancouver. Though now one of the top ten most popular routes in America, it had quite a few starts and stops along the way.
Amazing Natural Beauty
Leaving Portland, Oregon, the train rides directly alongside the mighty Columbia River, providing a really relaxing backdrop for the start of the ride.
Once into Washington State, it is then that the Cascades begin to appear right out the window. The terrain becomes more rugged as the train passes by both Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier, which is still snow capped, even in July.
Onward from the Olympia, Washington stop, the reaches of the Puget Sound come into play, giving a pretty stunning surrounding view going Northbound of the Cascades Mountain Range on the right, and then both Puget Sound and the distant Olympic National Park on the left across the water.
From Seattle onward to Vancouver, the train route rides practically on the beach! You’d be hard pressed to get any better views than that as the train approaches British Columbia.
Dubbed as a “European Style” train by Amtrak, the Cascades offers very comfortable seating, as well as screens that show the real time travel of the train, indicating just how much longer the journey will be to the next stop.
Additionally, the train offers a few dining options. Beyond the standard Cafe Car, which had a really great painting of the greater Pacific Northwest (including the route stops) on the roof, it also offered sit down dining in a Bistro Car as well.
The typical offerings for many Amtrak routes, quiet car, cell phone speaking areas, electrical outlets and wifi were all there as well, making the ride really enjoyable.
All in all, a journey along the Amtrak Cascades was really great, and a lot of fun. Although a car ride would most likely be quicker through the same destinations, the relaxation, amenities, and most importantly, the view that the train offers is just no comparison.