AmtrakEmpire Builder

Amtrak Empire Builder: 16 Things You Need To Know Before Riding

14 Day Vacation Around The USA With Amtrak
A quick, fresh air break in Minnesota:-)
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What days does the Empire Builder run

The Amtrak Empire Builder runs every day in both east and west directions. There is one daily departure from Chicago at 2:15pm and one daily departure from Seattle at 4:40pm on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Empire Builder also leaves Portland, Oregon every day at 4:45pm.

The Empire Builder is not a hop on hop off train, you’ll need a ticket each time you get off and get back on the next day.

Where Should You Stay In Seattle and Chicago

If you’d like to stay close to Union Station before or after your visit, we recommend the Hyatt Place Chicago Downtown – The Loop, which is about a 5 minute walk from the station. We have also stayed at the La Quinta near the station and loved it.

The King Street Station in Seattle may have the most convenient hotel near it in the entire Amtrak system. If you are staying a night or two in Seattle we recommend the Embassy Suites Seattle Downtown Pioneer Square. The hotel is just steps from the Amtrak station and we could see the entrance to the station from our room.

Does the Empire Builder have WiFi

The Amtrak Empire Builder does not have WiFi. While many Amtrak trains have WiFi connections on board, the Empire Builder as well as most of the cross country train routes do not as there are many areas where they would lose service. In some parts of the route you will not have cell service either.

How much does the Empire Builder cost

The base price for the Empire Builder is $150 in coach class and $651 in sleeper cars. Coach class tickets do not include meals while sleeper car tickets including traditional dining meals. Discounts and sales are available to get fares at a lower price from time to time.

What is the difference between Empire Builder 7 and 27

The Empire Builder 7 train runs to Seattle while the 27 train runs to Portland, Oregon. The two trains start as the same train in Chicago and then split before arriving to their destinations mid route.

Does the Empire Builder have bedrooms

The Empire Builder has bedrooms in the sleeper cars. The sleeper car offers superliner roomettes, superliner bedrooms, superliner family bedrooms, and superliner accessible bedrooms. Roomettes are found on the upper and lower level, while bedrooms are all on the upper level. Family bedrooms and accessible bedrooms are both on the lower level.

Does the Empire Builder have an observation car

The Empire Builder does have an observation car. The observation car is available to all passengers regardless of which ticket they have. The observation car is open 24 hours a day. There are chairs that face outwards and extra power outlets to charge your electronics in the observation car.

Empire Builder observation car
The observation car

How long are the stops on the Empire Builder

Most stops on the Amtrak Empire Builder are 3 minutes. Every few hours there is a fresh air break stop, which lasts 10-15 minutes, and a few times on the trip there will be a crew change stop which will last around 30 minutes. You are allowed to get off the train during a fresh air break or a crew change stop but not the shorter stops. You should never leave the platform and you should be ready to board when all aboard is called.

How long does the Empire Builder take

The Empire Builder takes 46 hours from Seattle to Chicago or Chicago to Seattle. You’ll be on the train for 3 days and two nights if there are no delays.

How fast does the Empire Builder go

The top speed of the Empire Builder is 79mph, but the average speed is 50mph. Most of the time the train will not be moving at the highest possible speed.

Is the Empire Builder route better East or West

The Empire Builder route is prettier from west to east due to passing sights at a better time, but both directions are generally the same. The north side of the Empire Builder is the best side to sit on as you’ll see parts of Glacier National Park and Puget Sound on your ride.

Is the Empire Builder usually on time

The Empire Builder is not usually on time. You should not plan on this train arriving on time to its destination. Do not plan tight connections at the end of your trip as the Empire Builder is often late. Delays can range from a few minutes to 12 or more hours.

Is the Empire Builder a Superliner train

The Empire Builder is a Superliner train. It will carry both Superliner I and Superliner II sleeping cars. There is very little difference between the Superliner I and Superliner II sleeping cars. Most notably the public restrooms in the Superliner I cars are bigger than those of the Superliner II. If you are in a sleeper car you will not get a choice of which type of car you will be in.

Is the Empire Builder or California Zephyr better

The California Zephyr is a better route than the Empire Builder. These are the best two routes in the USA with the California Zephyr ranking #1 and the Empire Builder ranking #2. You cannot go wrong with either of these routes and you should plan your trip depending on which one you’d like to see more.

How many stops are on the Empire Builder

The Empire Builder visits 46 stations. Some of the stations are visited by passengers going to and from both Portland and Seattle while some are not. The stations in Oregon are only visited by the Portland train, and most of the stations in Washington are only visited by the Seattle train.

Where does the Empire Builder stop

Robert Marmion
Rob is married to Allie and together they have been traveling the world for the past 2 years. Rob is one of the most published photographers in the world, having published over 750,000 images in the last 15 years. He enjoys doing landscape and astrophotography while on the road.