Amtrak: Portland to Denver or Denver to Portland?

kverdon Apr 26, 2010

  1. kverdon

    kverdon TrainBoard Member

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    Hi,

    My wife and I are starting to plan a train trip for the fall. We'll like to take a train trip from Portland to Denver, either starting in Portland or Denver. What we are wondering is does it make a difference if you go Portland to Denver or Denver to Portland in terms of train schedule to see the best scenery? We are most interrested in the Denver - San Francisco part of the trip for scenery as we have never taken that route before.

    thanks much,

    Kevin and Mona
     
  2. SD75MAC

    SD75MAC TrainBoard Supporter

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    Emeryville - Denver departs at 9:50a, so you'lll have daylight maybe until Winnemucca NV. Then daylight again from Provo UT in to Denver.

    Denver - Emeryville departs at 8:05a and daylight until Helper UT and daylight again from maybe Winnemucca NV in to Emeryville.

    Kind'a depends on where you want to see the sunrise.
     
  3. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    Check out my RRAdventures Trip report: Railroad Adventures (RRAdventures) - SILVER Anniversary

    You will need to skip ahead to Post#18 to get to the AMTRAK section where my wife and I spent our 25th Anniversary on the CZ. The topic includes over 30 videos clips as we travled the route (Denver/Emeryville) in both directions over 4 days. The CZ has it's challenges schedule wise often but it's a great trip in both directions.

    Feel free to post questions about my trip and I will do my best to anwser them quickly

    Here is a short-cut to all the videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/RRAdventures#grid/user/E4D8834F0DAF6AF4

    Note: With our pending TrainBoard upgrade, not all the YouTube links are working within my trip report topic currectly. The YouTube link above has them in order of how they were taken as well as shown within the topic.

    :tb-cool: :tb-cool: :tb-cool: :tb-cool:​
     
  4. ajmott

    ajmott New Member

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    The Zephyr schedule is such that they try to send you through the mountains (Rockies and Sierras) in the daylight. One thing to consider is how delayed each direction is. Eastbound is seldom late, but Westbound is known for being horrendously late. I've been Westbound and 14 hours late before. We went through the Sierras in the early morning, arriving at Roseville at 5:30am. My personal recommendation would be to go Portland -> Emeryville -> Denver.
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's sad. I've always preferred to "chase the sun" for maximum daylight viewing.

    :tb-sad:

    Boxcab E50
     
  6. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    Last 4 Weeks

    It can have schedule issues in both directions. Latest info I seen in the past month it's been #6 rather then #5 having the biggest issues getting into Denver.

    #6: Average delay is 45 minutes

    #5: Average delay is 5 minutes

    Info Based on: http://www.amtrakdelays.com/

    Today, #5 Arrived early (14 minutes) and departed ontime, #6 last night was late arriving (32 minutes) & late departing (23 minutes) but today is looking to be ontime.

    It's mostly Coal/Freight Traffic, Track Maintenance, & Weather issues that CZ faces that cause the delays and it's hit/miss on when these disruptions happen. Just plan on night passing between Provo UT & Winnemucca NV in both directions and enjoy the ride! When we took our roundtrip we spent the night in Emmeryville at a hotel that was a short walking/safe distance to the depot so it was worth the cost/time saved by being right there at the depot.

    :tb-biggrin: :tb-biggrin: :tb-biggrin: :tb-biggrin:​
     
  7. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Where's the bottleneck west of Denver? Is it through the Rockies or over Donner? I know that UP is moving more traffic to Donner. I wonder if they would consider moving the Zephyr back to Feather River or if relaying Main 1 over Donner would help?

    If it's getting delayed over the former Rio Grande, I'm not sure what they could do.
     
  8. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    CZ basically runs on single track so any slight slip in schedule can cause a domino effect and Coal/Freight often take priority so the CZ gets left on a siding until it can get back into the queue. Heck, on my last CZ trip we sat just outside Denver Union Station for awhile just waiting to get through all the yard traffic as the CZ has to back into the station so it has to turn around within the yard WEST & EAST bound just to get into the station. Then there is the Tunnel District including Moffat that everyone has to queue up to get through. UP has been doing lots of track work and all trains get stopped here and there for MOW activities on the line, etc, etc, etc.

    In my videos I tried to document the Schedule/Actual arrive times in various places just to give folks a feel on how the CZ schedules can get tossed for a loop and then the crew tries to make up the time where speed is allowed. For me, schedule delays just means more time on the train so more time just to sit back and enjoy the trip longer.

    Even the #5 and #6 have to wait on each other when the meet along the route...

    :tb-biggrin: :tb-biggrin: :tb-biggrin: :tb-biggrin:​
     
  9. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    Kevin and Mona;

    One thing I will say for either direction, plan to spend at least one night in Denver at a hotel. If you take #5 out of Denver it's a early train so come in at least the night before and plan on a ontime departure. If you come in via #6, plan on a hotel night here as you can't predict any Air Flights leaving that night given the trains history of late arrivals. If you need any ideas of what to do in and around Denver just let me know; this has been home for my family since 1885.

    :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink:​
     
  10. kverdon

    kverdon TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks so much everyone for your information. All other things being equal we would prefer to take the trip eastbound. That lets us leave PDX on the Starlight in the afternoon and get to SF about 7-8am. We could then spend the day/night in SF and then leave for Denver the next day. We would then spend an overnight in Denver.

    Doing it westbound means we have to catch the Startlight at midnight UGH! :-(. Sound like we would still get a good scenic trip through the Rockies on the Eastbound run.

    thanks,

    Kevin and Mona
     

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