This Amtrak Adirondack review will show you everything that you need to know about this train journey. I got the chance to complete the 13-hour ride and travel from New York to Montreal and It was a day full of adventures and meeting new people.
The Amtrak Adirondack is an intercity passenger train traveling 11 hours between Montreal and New York City. Additionally, the 381-mile trip provides scenic views from the eastern border of the Adirondack Mountains to the Hudson Valley.
I’ve been wanting to ride the Amtrak Adirondack for a long time, but have always been cut short because of certain situations.
In January 2019, I booked a one-way ticket from New York City to Montreal. The ticket date was in October, in time for the fall foliage in New York.
If you’re from New York and want to spend the weekend outside the city, traveling to Montreal would be a good idea. By plane, you can go to these two locations in just 2 hours. But traveling by train is a surreal experience, especially after seeing picturesque views.
You know what I say, trains over planes!
Buying an Amtrak train ticket has always been a breeze, and it’s no different with the Amtrak Adirondack. You can go to their official website to book a ticket.
All you have to do is input the location where you’re departing from and you’re headed. Also, input the date of your departure and return.
Did you notice the interval between my booking and departure dates? Forcing myself to go on an adventure is not the only reason I booked early. Booking months before you plan to travel can save you some dollars.
In my case, I found a saver ticket for only $48. If you’re booking a week before your travel, you can expect the price to be around $70. But if you’re booking a ticket at the last minute where there are a few seats left, the ticket can quickly jump to $100 per seat.
The Adirondack train only has coach seats. It’s important to remember that booking a ticket doesn’t reserve you a seat. There’s a line before boarding the train and the first ones to board can choose the best seats. But we’ll explain this further below.
Departing for New York City, the Amtrak Adirondack is on Track #69 which leaves at 8:15 every morning. If you’re departing from Montreal, the train is on Track #68 and leaves at 10:20 every morning.
You won’t have a hard time finding the station for the Adirondack train because it’s directly beneath the famous Madison Square Garden.
I arrived at the station around 6 in the morning. We suggest that you also do so because this is famous for being one of the busiest train stations in the entire western hemisphere.
Not everyone who rides the Adirondack is there for the full ride which is why you’ll start to see a line forming at around 7:30 a.m.
Before boarding the train, I got to eat breakfast and buy some snacks and drinks for my trip. Around 7:30, I started my way to the Upper Level of the station where there’s a designated area for the Adirondack train.
You’ll find this on Tracks 7/8 near the escalator.
There’s a check-in stand with a sign on the left side where people going to Canada need to check in. The security agent will review your passport and ticket so make sure to prepare them early.
Also, they will provide you with a blue slip which means that your documents are clear. If you have luggage, they will also provide you with blue tags.
Note: If you’re running late, mobility-impaired, or elderly and want to skip the long line, then you can go to the Amtrak Red Cap. They will help you with your bags and will let you skip the long lines.
The Maple Leaf and Adirondack trains split once it’s outside the city so make sure you’re on the right train. Otherwise, you’ll be in Toronto in a few hours.
Inside the Amtrak Adirondack Train
As mentioned earlier, buying a coach ticket doesn’t mean that you’ll have a specific seat assigned to you. That’s the reason why you must board the train as early as you can.
When the train starts taking in passengers, the conductor near the escalator will ask you about your arrival area and will direct you to a specific car.
Passengers who are doing the full 11-hour ride like me are put in the last cars of the train. Other passengers who are stopping at different stations are assigned to the front cars.
Since I was one of the first passengers boarding the train, I got to pick a seat on the left side and by the window.
Pro Tip: If you’re going from New York to Montreal, choose a seat on the left side facing forward to see the best scenery of the Hudson River Valley.
Later on, find a seat on the right side of the train for more beautiful landscapes.
Not all seats on this train have windows which is why you need to board early. There are bulkhead seats that don’t only have windows, but there are also no footrests and tray tables.
Once everyone found their seats, a friendly conductor greeted us while checking our tickets again. He also informs everyone on the train regarding the “disappearing” toilets. That if we, the collective passengers, did not take care of the bathrooms, no one else would for the entire duration of the travel.
Coach Class Seats
Looking at the Amtrak Adirondack seats, I was immediately impressed by their looks. At first impression, you’ll notice that it’s clean and fairly new.
The seat is wide enough that I could toss and turn without having to worry about hitting the person beside me.
These seats are a lot wider in contrast to the ones you’ll find on a plane. Additionally, these seats can recline far enough that you can sleep for almost the entire ride.
Of course, we would want that to happen since we’re here for the scenic views.
There are two electrical outlets beneath the window, a tray table, and a footrest. Although, I found it weird that there are no armrests to separate the two chairs.
If you’re like me who’s traveling alone, you will definitely meet a new friend along the way.
Also, if you’re seating beside the window, you should be comfortable when your seatmate wants to charge their phone or laptop. Dangling cords are inevitable.
If you’re the passenger away from the window and find it awkward to charge beside a stranger, you can go to the Cafe car and charge there.
Families and friends who are traveling in groups don’t have many options when it comes to seating arrangements. Seats in front of the car provide more legroom and extra space for bags and luggage.
Additionally, there are seats and tables available in the Cafe car where you can all spend time playing together.
There are only two amenities on the Amtrak Adirondack train: the WiFi and Cafe car. At first, I thought that the WiFi was available for the entire ride and strong enough that I could work properly. Once I took my laptop out, I could hardly connect to it. Cell service was also poor and almost non-existent in other areas.
Since I couldn’t get any work done, I went to the Cafe car. Although I brought some snacks and drinks, I was curious about what Amtrak offers in their cafe and looking forward to seeing the scenic views from the large windows.
In the Cafe car, you’ll immediately notice that all the tables are occupied. Most families and friends occupy these seats while chatting, snacking, or eating. Additionally, many passengers who are seating in the area without windows regularly occupy this car so that they can view the scenery.
It’s also important to take note that the Cafe car can be rowdy. If you’re not fond of loud noises and crowded areas, then you can always get back to your seat. Unlike when you’re in an airplane where you don’t have any choice but to put on your earphones and wait for the entire trip to end.
As for the reserved seats, two tables are exclusively for Amtrak crew members and conductors. In some cases, you will find these seats empty. Sometimes, conductors stay here to talk about their work or personal lives.
Meal Options at the Cafe Car
There are many food and beverage options on their cafe menu. They have available meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
They also have a full list of beers, wines, and other liquors available for purchase. If you’re really hungry and looking for an almost “real” meal, they have vegan and beef burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, and even a Mediterranean chicken-and-quinoa bowl.
Although, when I first went to the cafe, I noticed that many of the items were sold out. However, they seem to restock their menu at one of our stops during the trip.
It’s important to remember that, on almost all Amtrak trains, the prices from their Cafe car are beyond what you would expect. If you want to save some money, we suggest that you bring your food.
The only reason that you would want to continuously visit the Cafe car like me is to create some kind of diversion. Traveling alone on a 13-hour train ride would require multiple diversions every now and then.
Just like what our conductor said before, the bathrooms would “disappear” if we don’t take care of them. True to his word, two of the bathrooms were already “out of use” midway through our trip.
At first, all the bathrooms were clean and very modern.
There’s a toilet seat in the corner, a sink on the other side, a mirror, and a trash bin. Overall, the toilet room is spacious enough that you feel comfortable doing your business there.
Crossing the Canadian Border
The last stop if you’re traveling from New York is Rouses Point. Like any border and passport control, you can expect some delays.
All the passengers who are crossing the border undergo questioning. However, some passengers get a few questions while others get a complete laundry list of questions.
Before arriving at the stop, the conductor will inform everyone about the process and prepare the documents. There are days when the immigration can only take 30 minutes before the train continues on its journey.
However, most of the time, it takes between 1-3 hours.
In my case, it took almost two hours. Most of the questions you’ll hear are the general ones you also encounter from the airport. Questions like “Why are you going to Canada?”, “What do you do for work?”, and “Why did you take the train going to Canada?”. Prepare yourself to answer their questions before your turn.
Some passengers were seen stepping off the train for more thorough questioning. Overall, it was a smooth process. I got a new stamp on my passport. Although, this is not the standard procedure for everyone on the train.
As a train enthusiast, I live for the scenic views that I’ll see along with my journey. The Amtrak Adirondack did not disappoint me in this regard. Take note that the picturesque views are not romantic, they are enjoyable.
The first scenery worth taking note of is the Hudson Valley. The train also snakes alongside Lake Champlain. Thankfully, I traveled in October during the peak of the famous fall-foliage season. You can also see the Hudson Highlands, Mid-Hudson Bridge, Lyndhurst and Rockefeller Mountains, and Bear Mountain.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the Great Dome Car of Amtrak Adirondack. Last August 2019, they officially retired the car that allows you to see exceptional views from a higher perspective.
Pro tip: There are lots of branches, trees, and power lines that can block your shots. Since the train continuously moves, taking an amazing shot can be difficult. Your best bet is to set your camera on burst mode so that you can take 10 or more shots in a row.
Additionally, you can ask the conductor if you can go to the last car so that you can take a 270-degree camera shot. There’s a small platform between the doors where you can stand and look at the tracks behind.
No Baggage Service
All Amtrak trains are well-known for their spacious overhead luggage rack. Whether you’re away for the day, the weekend, or for a long time, you can put almost any size of luggage on their rack. If you’re bringing a backpack, you can easily put it under your footrest and still be comfortable.
Additionally, for passengers who have larger suitcases, there’s a storage compartment at the back side of every car.
Take note that this compartment is small and quickly fills up. Boarding early gives you the advantage of putting your suitcase in the compartment.
Even though there’s no baggage service for the Amtrak Adirondack, both Montreal Central Station and Penn Station offer baggage assistance.
As mentioned earlier, Amtrak’s Red Cap service will not only help you with your luggage but also assist you to skip the long lines.
As for me who had a backpack and a suitcase, I was able to put both of my bags on the overhead luggage rack without any problems.
I can also see that there’s still a lot of space even though many of the passengers have two or more bags with them.
Amtrak Adirondack Review – Conclusion
The Amtrak Adirondack allows you to travel from New York to Montreal in 11 or more hours. The seats are spacious and reclinable so you can expect to be comfortable throughout the ride.
Since the bathrooms are quick to “disappear”, you should mind your bathroom breaks to avoid holding them until you arrive at your destination.
Make sure that you have enough food with you if you don’t want to buy anything expensive from the Cafe car. Additionally, always have your camera or phone ready so that you can take a photo of the beautiful views around you!