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This Summer, Some of Amtrak's Best Scenic Routes Are Finally Back | Frommer's Amtrak

This Summer, Some of Amtrak's Best Scenic Routes Are Finally Back

In good news for travelers, two Amtrak routes that have long been popular with vacationers are finally returning to service after years of closure.

• The Adirondack, which connects New York City with Montréal, had been silent since the pandemic necessitated the route's closure. Although the border between Canada and the U.S. reopened in 2021, it somehow took until early April of 2023 for this Amtrak train service to be reinstated.

The route may be scenic, but it's not speedy and never has been. It takes roughly 12 hours to go the 370-ish miles between New York City (pictured above) and Montréal, a distance you could cover by car in around half that time. But if you needed to get there fast, you'd fly. Trains are for kicking back and watching the countryside scroll by.

The Adirondack makes for a long day, but it's a pleasant one passing through some of North America's most beautiful terrain. More important, the train drops you directly in the heart of both New York City and Montréal—you can walk out the door of the train station and be in the thick of the best sights.

Amtrak's official announcement also touted the onboard amenities of the revived train: "New York State and Montreal travelers and visitors can expect the same amenities onboard the Adirondack as they do on most Amtrak trains, including free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no 'airplane mode'), the ability to travel with small pets within the US, a café car, large spacious seats with ample leg room and no middle seat."

You'll find the complete schedule for the Adirondack, including the 17 stops it makes as it snakes up the eastern border of New York State on the way to Québec, at this link.

The Amtrak Cascades, which makes 17 stops between Vancouver, Canada, and Eugene, Oregon—taking in Portland, Seattle, and the infamous Mount St. Helens en route—is also, in case you haven't heard, finally back with us. Like the Adirondack, the Amtrak Cascades follows a roughly north-south course on mostly U.S. soil, with a short segment poking briefly into Canada.

This week, service between Seattle and Portland was suspended due to a landslide, but that temporary hiccup is expected to be resolved in a timely manner.

For the complete route and schedule of the Amtrak Cascades on the Amtrak website, go here.

There are two other bits of good news on the Amtrak service front.

• One is that Amtrak's trial of the Berkshire Flyer will return this year. In a nutshell: It's a Friday-and-Sunday-only route designed to link New York City with the visit-worthy Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts.

The route is a summer-only affair available from Memorial Day Weekend to early October. Passengers travel from the heart of Manhattan to Pittsfield, Massachusetts (also stopping in Poughkeepsie, Hudson, and Albany), in 4–5 hours in either direction. For more information via the Amtrak site, go here

• Middle America has not been left out of Amtrak's recent improvements. The railway has received clearance to speed up trains between Chicago and St. Louis. The Illinois Department of Transportation has approved a new speed limit of 110 mph, up from 90—a modification that could reduce travel time between the two cities.

For now, Amtrak isn't changing its schedules because officials want to see how the new speed limit works, but there's potential for shorter rides on Chicago–St. Louis routes as well as on journeys between Chicago and San Antonio.

Time will tell how many minutes the new speed limit will save passengers.