Q: Hello. I would love to go to Glacier National Park by rail (before the glaciers disappear), but how do I make connections out of Wilmington, Del.? I've seen scenic rail packages for Canada and the Rockies, but nothing with specific destinations.
–Julia, Townsend, Del.
A: The Amtrak Empire Builder line, which runs between Chicago and Seattle via Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho, stops near Glacier National Park.
To get there from Wilmington, Del., you'd have to do a bit of switching around, though. You'd first take the Northeast Regional line from Wilmington to Washington, D.C., and then jump on the Capitol Limited line, which would get you as far as Chicago. Then you'd hop on the Empire Builder for the rest of the journey.
The whole trip would take about two days each way. It would cost about $193 one way if you were to book a regular coach seat and a fair bit more if you booked a sleeper car for the Capitol Limited and Empire Builder legs. (Remember that travelers older than 65 get 15 percent off regular fares.) I'd suggest going to Amtrak.com and using the site's route and schedule information to get exact details of dates, times, prices, and upgrade options.
Finally, before you book, compare the round-trip ticket price with the price of an Amtrak USA Rail Pass to find out whether the pass would be cheaper. The USA Rail Pass is a nationwide hop-on, hop-off pass that comes in 15-, 30-, or 45-day durations and allows you to travel in a coach seat for a total of eight, 12, or 18 "segments," or legs, of a journey. Check the terms and conditions before you buy in order to make sure you understand what a segment consists of and to find out how much it would cost to upgrade to a sleeper car. The Rail Pass may be a better option, especially if you want to take side trips along the way.