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Redwood National Park: Three Tips to Effectively Travel to Redwood by Amtrak Train and Bus

Redwood National Park: Three Tips to Effectively Travel to Redwood by Amtrak Train and Bus

Redwood National Park was created in 1968 to protect land adjacent to the California state redwood parks that were formed in the 1920s.  Currently the combined state and federal lands are administered under a joint agreement between the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.  The combined parks cover over 110,000 acres including 37 miles of pristine California coastline. 

Since Delta is the only commercial airline into the local airport, it is expensive to fly into the area.  Although not close to an Amtrak train line, there is bus service from Amtrak stations to the Redwood area, which may be the cheapest way to travel to the park.  Here are three tips/hints for effectively traveling to/from Redwood by land:

One:  Martinez, California is your Amtrak connection to Redwood National Park.  The San Joaquin line from Bakersfield (with connecting service from San Diego and Los Angeles) and Oakland (with connecting service from San Francisco) stops there.  Martinez is also on the Capitol Corridor line from San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento (with connecting service from Reno.)  From Martinez, there are two Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches departing at 10:25 am and 3:25 pm for the six to seven hour ride to the Redwood area. 

Two:  Since there is no shuttle service at Redwood National Park, you must rent a car to see the entire park.  Therefore, the McKinleyville stop at the Arcata Airport is the destination for your bus ride.  If you arrive before the rental car counters close in the early evening, you have a choice of companies from which to rent.  If you arrive when the rental car counters are closed, you can take a complementary shuttle bus to your hotel for the night and come back to the airport in the morning to rent your car.  There are a number of hotels in the area that will provide this service.  The motorcoaches back to Martinez leave McKinleyville at 6:15 am and 10:30 am.

Three:  The need to make reservations for the train portion of your trip depends on the service you take.  Although the Capitol Corridor trains are unreserved, the San Joaquins are all-reserved trains.  Although you do not need reservations for the Thruway Motorcoach Connection service, you may be able to receive discounted advance purchase fares or special fares for students and seniors by buying both your train and bus ticket in advance.…

Avoid the Airport in the Pacific Northwest – Amtrak Cascades Review

Avoid the Airport in the Pacific Northwest – Amtrak Cascades Review

When traveling on vacation do you have to trudge through crowded airports? Depending on where you are coming from and where you are going the answer is a qualified No.

We took a cruise from Los Angeles, California to Vancouver, British Columbia on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas (Review here) and a one night cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington on the Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Star and had to get home to Portland, Oregon. Most people just go straight with taking a plane and don’t think about what their alternatives are. Well, In Washington and Oregon along the I-5 corridor one option is Amtrak’s Cascades.

Our choice, travel 45-60 minutes from the cruise terminal to SeaTac then spend 1-2 hours trudging through and around the airport, an hour and a half in the air, then another 30+ minutes waiting for our bags or travel 10 minutes to the Amtrak station, wait 15 minutes for our train, spend 3 and a half hours on the rail, grab our bags and go. When the time going by air is compared to the time going by rail it is almost a coin flip, while the actual travel time is longer by rail the additional time in airports and getting there outweighs the same actions by rail. So we opted to take the train, and we did not regret our choice and from now on when we need to get to Seattle from Portland we will always take the train.

The Amtrak Cascades travels a scenic route through the Pacific Northwest from Vancouver, British Columbia to Eugene, Oregon past Mount Saint Helens and over the Columbia Gorge. Amtrak Cascades service is financed and operated in partnership with the states of Oregon and Washington, giving residents and visitors to the Pacific Northwest a viable alternative to air travel.

The beauty of the option is where the train station is located in both Seattle and Portland, unlike airports, which are usually located in an out of the way location the train station is right downtown, this is true in almost every location that Amtrak goes to.

Once we debarked from the Norwegian Star we exited from the Seattle Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 and grabbed a taxi right in front. There was an “unofficial” porter working the cabs, a nice young man that appeared to be working just for tips helping people get cabs and their luggage loaded, I don’t know how the cruise lines and taxi drivers view these helpers but he did earn a tip helping us get quickly settled with a cab. The driver took us directly to the train station which was a 10 minute at most drive from the cruise terminal.

We checked our bags with Amtrak baggage handlers and waited for our train, shortly before the train arrived Amtrak personnel assigned us seats and the train arrived on time. When the train arrived everyone headed to their assigned cars in a leisurely pace. We boarded, …

Vancouver Winter Olympics: Five Tips to Travel to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games by Amtrak

Vancouver Winter Olympics: Five Tips to Travel to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games by Amtrak

Vancouver, British Columbia is an ideal location for the Olympic Winter Games.  It is a major metropolitan area with significant infrastructure, close to world-class mountains and in a country that loves winter sports.  The city’s international culture embodies strong elements from both the East and West.

Another feature of this location is its proximity to the United States.  Situated approximately 40 miles from the US/Canada border, Vancouver will be easy to reach by land.  You may wish to consider rail travel as a relaxing and affordable method to travel to the Games.  Given the elevated demand for airline seats into Vancouver around the time of the Olympics, a land alternative may be the most enjoyable way to get to Vancouver.

Here are five tips/hints for effectively traveling to/from the Vancouver Winter Olympics by Amtrak:

One:  You must first decide your gateway city.  Seattle and Portland, Oregon are the logical choices.  Although both cities enjoy great air service, you may wish to take the Empire Builder from Chicago or Minneapolis/St. Paul to either gateway city.  You will experience the vast Northern plains and the scenic Rocky Mountains (including Glacier National Park) along the way.  Alternatively, you can fly into California and take the Coast Starlight north from Los Angeles or Oakland.  Like the Empire Builder, this train has Superliner sleeper accommodations.  Finally, there is Amtrak Cascades service five times a day between Portland and Seattle. 

Two:  Once you reach Seattle, you have multiple means of transportation north to the Olympic Games.  You can travel on one of two Amtrak Cascades trains that include a stop in Bellingham, Washington before arriving in Vancouver.  Alternatively, you can connect to an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach that only stops in Surrey and Richmond, British Columbia before its arrival in Vancouver.  If you really want to explore numerous modes of transportation, you can take the Victoria Clipper high-speed catamaran from Seattle to Victoria, BC and the Pacific Coast Lines bus service from Victoria to Vancouver.

Three:  The next decision is where to stay.  Most people will elect to find lodging in Vancouver.  The Pacific Central Station, Amtrak’s depot in Vancouver, is two blocks from the Main Street – Science World station on TransLink’s SkyTrain service.  Four TransLink and two Coast Mountain bus lines run close to the train station.  You will want your hotel to be close to a transit lines since there will not be any private automobile parking at the Olympic venues.  The good news is that your Olympic event ticket gives you unlimited, free access to the TransLink system on the day of that event and the early morning of the next day.

Four:  Two alternative bases for the Olympic Games are Bellingham, WA and the Whistler, British Columbia areas.  Bellingham is about sixty miles from Vancouver.  Both Amtrak Cascades and Greyhound bus service are available to Vancouver many times a day.  If mountain sports are the focus of your visit, you may wish to stay in the Whistler area.  There is Greyhound Canada …