Quick one for anyone who knows, what is the Amtrak network like in the winter. Are the. Long distance runs still interesting or are the dark and snowy climates a bit of a damper on the experience? I'm thinking at least Empire Builder and Coast Starlight but maybe others.
Assuming the CEO hasn't castrated the long distance services in the next few months, all the long distance Amtrak trains operate in Winter, usually daily but the Winter timetable has built in padding to try to allow for the inevitable delays that can occur.
Both trains will obviously operate in reduced daylight hours, easily ascertained by looking up both trains and their schedules.
Why wait till Winter if it can be avoided...
I'd do the Empire Builder first from Chicago, allowing for the earlier onset of Winter, then change at Portland OR Seattle for a southbound Coast Starlight which won't be affected as early by the reducing daylight hours and increased falls of snow.
The best month to start would be no later than October to get the best of the Fall colours.
Bear in mind also, the US has a LOT of freights operating that also assist in keeping tracks clear of snow.
Mike in Norway, still on MS Midnatsol between Trondheim and Bergen.