: Travel Portland

How to Travel by Train through Oregon

Relax on a car-free trip and experience the state by Amtrak.
February 22, 2024

While Oregon is a great place for a road trip, going by train is an exciting and eco-friendly way to enjoy the state’s charms without having to keep your eyes on the road. Fortunately, Amtrak has two lines that journey across the state: the Amtrak Cascades — which travels between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene — and the Coast Starlight, which runs between Seattle and Los Angeles. Each offers beautiful views of wooded landscapes, easy access to fun-filled destinations and great onboard amenities. Even better, you can purchase point-to-point tickets if you want to spend time at any destination. Here’s what to know and expect on your car-free journey.

Aerial view of a train and it runs along a river.
(Courtesy of ODOT)

Route Highlights

All southbound trains — for both lines — make their first stop in Oregon at Portland’s Union Station, downtown. If you arrive early, leave your bags at the luggage storage and head out to visit the Japanese American Museum of Oregon and the Lan Su Chinese Garden, both within eight blocks of the railway station.

If you’re on the Amtrak Cascades line, your next stop is Oregon City, 25 minutes from Portland (the Coast Starlight whizzes right through). The station here is unstaffed, which means you’ll need to bring your bags with you if you plan to get off and explore. Fortunately, one of Oregon City’s key attractions, the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, is just across the road.

The next stop on both train lines is Salem, about 45 minutes from Oregon City. The city’s grand station — built in 1918 — is about half a mile from the Oregon State Capitol and just around the corner from the Willamette Heritage Center. Another half-hour south will take you to Albany, a compact city known for its historic buildings and its great restaurants. Don’t miss Albany’s Historic Carousel and Museum, which is worth a visit even if you aren’t traveling with kids.

A person biking past a small train depot in Eugene.
(Courtesy of Eugene, Cascades & Coast)

Half an hour south of Albany, Eugene’s Amtrak station is on the northern end of downtown, near the base of Skinner Butte Park and a few blocks from the 5th Street Public MarketPeaceHealth Rides has a bike-share kiosk right at the station, ideal if you want to experience the city’s bike-friendly reputation for yourself.  

While Eugene is the final stop on the Cascades line, the Coast Starlight continues southeast, trading the cities and countryside of the Willamette Valley for dense coniferous forests. It’s a three-hour ride to the tiny Southern Oregon community of Chemult, a great base for cyclists in warmer months who want to ride out to Crater Lake, about 35 miles away, and snow sports in the winter. From Chemult, it’s less than two hours to Oregon’s southernmost Amtrak station in Klamath Falls. The train arrives in the evening, so you can get a hotel and plan a few days to shop downtown or check out the Native American and western history exhibits at the Klamath County Museum and the Favell Museum.

A train passes by a field full of blooming yellow and purple iris flowers.
(Courtesy of ODOT)

What to Expect Onboard

Both the Coast Starlight and the Cascades offer excellent onboard amenities, with a few key differences. The Coast Starlight uses two-story Superliner trains, which have upper- and lower-level seating and an upstairs observation car with big windows that are perfect for taking in the scenery. The Cascades uses single-story Talgo trains, with plans to upgrade to more fuel-efficient Airo trains in 2026. Cascades trains have Wi-Fi; Coast Starlight trains do not.

There are two seating options on the Cascades: coach and business (the latter has bigger seats and includes priority boarding). The Coast Starlight offers upper- and lower-level coach-only seats, plus private sleeper cars. Options range from roomettes for two to spacious family rooms for two adults and two children. Both include access to shared restrooms and showers, while spacious bedrooms have en-suite facilities. A limited number of accessible bedrooms with shared bathrooms are also available. 

Private rooms on the Coast Starlight include chef-cooked meals, served in-room or in the traditional dining car. Coach passengers can purchase reservations for the dining car from the conductor, but access is subject to availability. Both trains also have cafes that serve hot meals, sandwiches and snacks — these are open to all passengers.

Interior of a small train station in Albany.
(Courtesy of ODOT)

If You Go:

  • All Amtrak passengers are allowed a personal item, two carry-on bags and two checked bags, with the option to check two additional bags for a fee. You can also bring your bicycle on either train for a small fee, but you’ll need to reserve your space in advance. 
  • Cats and dogs are allowed onboard for a fee, as long as their weight doesn’t exceed 20 lbs., including the weight of their carrier. These regulations do not apply to service animals trained to perform specific tasks. 
  • Trains for both lines are wheelchair-accessible and can accommodate mobility devices. For more about accommodations, see the website’s guide to accessible travel services.

To book, visit the Amtrak website. A through ticket will be the fastest way to travel, or purchase point-to-point tickets — perfect if you’d like to spend more time at any destination.

About The

Margot Bigg
Margot Bigg grew up in Portland and England and after many years living in Europe and Asia (including six years in India), she once again calls the City of Roses home. When not traveling and writing, Margot spends her time studying new languages, discovering new music and seeking out new places to explore. She speaks English, French and Hindi, and is the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur; and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India, Fodor's Oregon, and Fodor's Pacific Northwest.

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