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Winter Wonderland on the Coast Starlight Train

Waking Up to Breathtaking Scenery

by Thomas Rivette

Pacifica, California

My first trip on Amtrak was in December of 2010, when my sister, my cousin and I traveled on the Coast Starlight to visit family living in Vancouver, Washington.

We boarded late at night in Emeryville, fell asleep as we passed Dunsmuir, and before arriving in Klamath Falls we woke up to a Southern Oregon winter wonderland. It was the most amazing thing we ever saw.

After Klamath Falls we began to climb up into the Cascade Mountains and the scenery was just breathtaking, all of the trees and mountains were covered in snow and we passed through numerous tunnels as we headed down hill through the Willamette River Valley.

I remember as a kid I used to watch a train documentary called "Riding the Rails," which features a beautiful steam train running an excursion from Portland, Oregon, to Sacramento, California, and it covered the same exact route as the Coast Starlight. It was like reliving childhood memories only I got to experience it live in front of my eyes; perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.

I would like to thank Amtrak for keeping the old Southern Pacific Coast route and Shasta route as a major passenger route between Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Now that I've ridden the Coast Starlight, my goal now is to ride the California Zephyr over the Donner Pass and I look forward to sharing my story of that journey soon.