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Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

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Camas, WA
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Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

I'm thinking of taking my wife to Leavenworth for a few days this December, and have a few questions:

1. I am considering taking Amtrak trains from Vancouver, WA to Leavenworth. We've never traveled by train before, but I've been reading a lot of reviews about the trains not being on schedule. With only one hour between trains in Seattle, I'm worried we might miss our connection and be stuck in Seattle. Has anyone here made that trip who can share your experiences?

Also, it seems the train arrives at 8pm (after dark and when everything is closed), and leaves at 6am (before it's light, when everything is closed). From what I can tell, the icicle station is not in town anyway, so I'm a little concerned about transportation, especially if we were to rent a cabin or something that is not located in town.

I also read reviews saying the segment between Seattle and Leavenworth does not have dining or lounge cars?

2. How likely is snow during the first few weeks of December?

3. I would prefer to go during the week, if possible, so I'm curious if the Christmas lights are on during the week, or only on weekends for the lighting ceremonies?

Thanks,

Anthony

western WA
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1. Re: Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

Some answers, no guarantees!

The train station is VERY small. There is just one big room for arrivals and departures. So as long as you don't have an unforeseen event (car on tracks or a major storm) you would make it. I would take the Cascades train rather than the Starlighter, as the Cascades originates in Oregon so there are fewer things to go wrong and cause the train to be late.

Snow -- who knows? There was snow last year in mid December, and it snowed at the end of the day when we were there. The lights will be on during the week I am sure, but the lighting ceremony, walking Santa /Fr Christmases, live music and live nativity are very special. It is crowded, but not hideously so.

You can take a bus from Seattle to Leavenworth earlier in the day. It goes right along Highway 2, and gets to Leavenworth around 12:30pm. It is a perfectly nice bus, nothing OMG about it. Here's a schedule that picks up right at the train station (see far right column) northwesterntrailways.com/CurrentTimeSchedul…

If you want the experience of taking the train, you could take it back the next morning. I am sure your hotel would help you figure out how to get to the train station, as getting the new station stop in Leavenworth was a big push by the visitor's bureau. You will go through the Cascade Tunnel, which was the longest tunnel in the Western Hemisphere for 60 years and is currently the longest in the United States.

Edited: 9:05 pm, September 27, 2010
seattle
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2. Re: Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

Because the train to Leavenworth is coming from Chicago the chances of it being late are very good. You might want to consider a private train that runs at Xmas. Look at

alkitours.com

for more info.

Camas, WA
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3. Re: Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

The only reason I'm considering taking Amtrak is because it runs from our local town to Leavenworth, and there's a certain adventure about it. It would also let us avoid driving in winter conditions. But, it adds a lot of time and money to the trip compared to just driving ourselves. Not only the travel costs themselves, but it would mean having to stay an extra night to accommodate the train schedules.

The bus service could help with some of the scheduling issues, but it adds even more expense to an otherwise already spendy travel option.

The Christmas train is simply not in my budget, and we would still have to get to Seattle somehow to catch it.

I'm not so worried about the returning train being late, as there are other trains to catch back home from Seattle if we miss our connecting train. But if we miss the eastbound train to Leavenworth, we're basically stuck till the next day. I suppose we could take the earlier train and wait around 3-4 hours in the Seattle train station, but that kind of takes away from the fun of an already long travel day.

As for the train station in Leavenworth, is there actually a warm room to wait in? I'm picturing standing out in the snow, in the dark, at 6am waiting for a train that may be running an hour or more late. Yeah, honey, isn't this fun and romantic... :)

On the surface, taking the train sounds awesome. My wife and I could spend time together talking, cuddling, watching the scenery, snacking and maybe having a beer or glass of wine along the way. Then step off the train into a winter wonderland for a few days. Sure sounds a lot more fun than driving through traffic, chaining up the car, etc.

In reality, I'm worried about missing trains, arriving after everything is closed, leaving in the dark before anything is open, and how to get around Leavenworth once we get there. Especially if we stay in a cabin that is not located in town. Somehow it loses the romance, and could turn a fun trip into a nightmare.

I guess I'll have to think about it a bit more...

Thanks for the information!

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

Since you are in Vancouver WA., why don't you go down to the Amtrak Station and purchase your tickets? They will know the best schedules for you. Both directions can be done in one day with no layovers. i.e.: Take Amtrak Cascade Train #500 from Vancover,WA at 8:45am to Seattle,WA arr noon. OR, take Amtrak Cascade train #506 depart VAN 12:30pm / arrive SEA 3:45. Take Amtrak's the Empire Builder (Amtrak train #8) from SEA at 4:40pm and arrive Leavenworth at 8:00pm. All one day.

Coming home take the Empire Builder Amtrak train #7 from Leavenworth (LWA) (depart 6:08 am) to Seattle (arrive 10:25 am). This train comes from Chicago but on time performance of the Empire Builder has been very good the last two years. Amtrak Cascade train #513 leaves Seattle at 11:20, Train #507 leaves at 2:20pm. Return cost may be a bit higher. There is no need to overnight in Seattle unless you want to. The Amtrak agent at the Vancouver WA Station can give you more options.

seattle
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5. Re: Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

if you go to

seattletimes.com

do a search for Leavenworth train. A reporter did a round trip and wrote a travel article with lots of detail and info that would answer some of your questions.

6. Re: Amtrak Train, Snow, and Christmas light questions

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