Sunset Limited, New Orleans to Los Angeles
The Sunset Limited is the oldest named train in the United States. First introduced in 1894, it was handed to Amtrak in 1971 and has been hosting train travellers on its New Orleans-Los Angeles and Los Angeles-New Orleans routes since then. This historic train travels between Louisiana and California along Amtrak’s most southern route. On a two-night journey, covering 1,995 miles, you’ll get to see all the wonders of the Bayou Country, the Mexican border, the striking southwest deserts and the Californian mountains.
Prices from: $436
Departing from: Union Passenger Terminal, New Orleans
Journey length: 2 nights
Sunset Limited train route
The westbound Sunset Limited leaves New Orleans for Los Angeles at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The journey takes 44 hours and 35 minutes. Lucky guests will get to see some remarkable sights, both natural and man-made on the way. First up, just outside New Orleans is the 4½-mile-long Huey P Long Bridge, one of the most amazing railroad bridges in the US, which crosses the swampy Mississippi River.
Other must-see highlights include the 1,074ft summit at Paisano Pass in the Del Norte Mountains, the crossing at Rio Grande in New Mexico that comes within 30ft of the Mexican border and the Sonoran Desert with its distinctive Eucalyptus trees. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss the chance to score a chilli-beef burrito from the famous Burrito Lady who’s on hand to sell her wares at the El Paso station.
Sunset Limited train
The shiny stainless steel Sunset Limited has comfortable Superliner sleeping and dining cars plus a Sightseer Lounge Car.
Sleeper carriages on Sunset Limited
On this two-night journey on the Sunset Limited, you could, technically sleep on the reclining coach class seats but you’ll have a terrible journey so it’s always worth the extra money to book a space in one of the sleeper carriages. You also get breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the fare so it’s a false economy to rough it. Unlike European trains, in the US you have to pay for the whole sleeper carriage, whether there are one or two of you. As well as your included meals, each sleeping carriage features a coffee station where you can pick up a complimentary tea, coffee or fruit juice. All bedding, toilets and towels are provided for the journey and while you eat dinner each night the on-board staff will make up your bed for you. Here’s what’s on offer –
Roomettes – these compact sleeper carriages consist of two facing seats and a small table. By night, these convert into two sleeping berths. WCs are situated along the corridor, with a shower on the lower deck.
Bedrooms – these are larger than roomettes, and some have an ensuite shower and WC. During the day they have a chair and a sofa then at night they convert to upper and lower berths. You can choose from a two-person bedroom (ensuite) or a bedroom suite which is two bedrooms combined.
Food and drink
The dining car is open to all passengers but those in the coach class will have to pay for their meals. All passengers travelling in the sleeper carriages get breakfast, lunch and dinner in their fare. However, drinks are extra. The meals are reasonably priced and guests travelling in the sleeper carriages are invited to make a reservation for lunch and dinner. The American-style food on board is good and plentiful with big freshly cooked breakfasts and great choices for lunch and dinner. You’ll find a chef’s special of the day as well as great dishes like tilapia fillet and Amtrak’s signature steak.
There is no formal dress code on this train and most guests wear very casual clothes. The good news is that you don’t have to dress for dinner either.
This is a very popular train trip for Americans and railway fans so expect to meet people from all over the States as well as a fair few guests from around the world. It’s a family-friendly train so expect to see lots of multi-generational families enjoying the ride.
All meals are included in the fare for sleeper-carriage passengers. However, you will have to pay extra for alcoholic beverages.
Pros and cons
This is one of the most interesting railroad adventures in the US and you’ll love every bit of your journey. The generous three meals a day that are included in the price are well worth paying for. Our only gripe is that there is no complimentary Wi-Fi on the train.