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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Amtrak Chicago To San Francisco

Long Considered One Of The Most Scenic Routes In The United States The California Zephyr Takes You From The Beautiful City Of Chicago To The City By The Bay San Francisco By Way Of The Spectacular Rockies And Sierras

Amtrak California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco

2022 Tour code: TU-CZEW-22

About the tour

Before embarking on your 2,300 mile journey to San Francisco,take advantage of your time in Chicago by visiting the city’s famedattractions such as the John Hancock Observation Deck, ride theFerris wheel at Navy Pier or window shop down The Magnificent Mile.The city also offers a rich cultural experience with its severalmuseums and the renowned Art Institute.

After your stay in Chicago, begin your journey west as you boardthe California Zephyr towards San Francisco. Along theway, engulf yourself in absolute beauty as you pass through thefrontier of the Colorado Rockies. As if that isn’t breathtakingenough, as you continue your journey be dazzled by the naturalbeauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When you finally do reachSan Francisco, take your final days of the journey to explore thisstriking city. Make sure to visit Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, orhop on a cable car for a classic way to experience the City by theBay.

This tour truly encompasses natural beauty so spectacular ittakes your breath away – on a dazzling ride that touches thesky!

Itinerary is available Eastbound from San Francisco toChicago based on your travel preference.


  • Hop On Hop Off Chicago sightseeing tour
  • Experience the majestic Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Ride through the Moffat Tunnel
  • See Colorado’s Gore
  • Transportation aboard Amtrak
  • Hotel accommodations for 2 nights
  • Meals on train included when upgrading to private sleeping accommodations
  • Denver The Mile High City

    Day 3, 7.15am: The Zephyr stops for half an hour for refuelling and servicing at Denver’s historic Union Station. Once the station had many platforms, now it has just two. A private car is attached to the Zephyr, perhaps the ultimate way to travel by train across the States! The Mile High City, at Denver we’re already 5,280 feet above sea level.

    Chicago To San Francisco Trains

    With Busbud, comparing and booking tickets for a train from Chicago to San Francisco is a breeze. Browse through an extensive selection of train fares and train schedules to find the best deals.

    Train service from Chicago to San Francisco will be provided by the most trusted companies.

    Whether it is train tickets or first class train tickets going to San Francisco from Chicago, we help you find what you’re looking for based on how much of a budget you have.

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    Amtrak Trains From Chicago To San Fracisco

    Does any train from CHICAGO go to SAN FRANCISCO FINANCIAL DISTRICT or other central location?. If not where is the closest station and are coaches available to connect to the city centre?

    Here is the information from the Amtrak web site.

    It explains that the station closest to San Francisco is Emeryville and it shows the connecting buses that will take you into the city:

    Not sure why it is in caps. I know we are getting old but we can read

    The Embarcadero has two stops and there are a few more near the Westfield for the downtown area. If you have lots of bags then the Embarcadeo stop would be more convenient as you can get a cab to your hotel

    • FAQ: What you need to know about California Before you Visit
    • FAQ: What you Need to Know Before you drive here
    • FAQ: California Itineraries and Trip Reports
    • Driving from SF to LA or vice Versa — Please read this
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    • Check Major Road Closures in CA via this official Map

    There Are Great Views On Both Sides Of The Train

    Trip Map

    In the Rocky Mountains, the train travels on both sides of the Fraser and Colorado rivers, so youll see the water from all seats. After Granby, the best views of the Colorado River will be on the left side of the train, but youll want to be on the right side of the train for the trip through Glenwood Canyon near Glenwood Springs. The scenery is also a little better on the right side of the train as you ascend into the Rocky Mountains after departing from Denver, and youll need to be on the right side of the train to see Donner Lake and Truckee, California in the Sierra Nevada.

    Tip: For the best views, the observation car is open to all passengers.

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    Let Amtrak Vacations Arrange Your Trip

    • Amtrak Vacations is Amtrak’s official partner for vacations, tours & packages.

      Amtrak Vacations can put a package together from anywhere to anywhere to your specification, with private sleeping accommodations on the train, stopovers at cities or national parks, hotels & transfers.

      They’ll also do ticket-only bookings for cross-country Amtrak journeys, and you may get more help and advice if you book through them as they specialise in Amtrak’s long-haul routes.

    Train Trips To San Francisco

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    Finding Peace On A 72

    A writer rides the rails from New York to San Francisco, discovering dazzling landscapes and fascinating fellow passengers along the way.

    California Zephyr

    In Iowa, I had dinner with an elderly woman who introduced herself only as Mrs. Alvarez. The train was rocking from side-to-side as it shot forward in the darkness, and she almost lost her balance when she sat down across from me at our booth. Mrs. Alvarez was short and stout, with curly gray hair cut in a bob. She wore a dark dress with large, round buttons.

    Would I offend you if I said grace? Mrs. Alvarez asked me. I believe in God, but I wouldnt want to impose Him upon anybody else.

    Not at all, please go ahead, I replied, bowing my head as Mrs. Alvarez recited her blessings. When youre traveling alone on the California Zephyr, the two-and-a-half-day Amtrak train from Chicago to San Francisco, you take your blessings as they come.

    Only recently, Amtrak had brought back what it calls traditional dining on some long-distance trains, serving passengers in the dining car on white linen tablecloths with silverware, china, and blue napkins emblazoned with the logo of the railroad.

    California Zephyr.

    But none of these people were quite like Mrs. Alvarez. She had a precise, matter-of-fact way of speaking that I found to be very comforting.

    Afterword: Traveling On A Budget

    TRIP REPORT – Amtrak California Zephyr, Chicago to San Francisco

    In addition to my cross-country Amtrak, Ive been traveling a lot over these past few weeks. Its been an awesome experience so far, and I wanted to share some of my tips for traveling on a budget it can be a lot more affordable than you may think, and Im very happy about how little cash I had to fork over:

  • San Jose Los Angeles : Sat 9/14, $53.98
  • Los Angeles Detroit : Wed 9/25, $157.00
  • Detroit Boston : Mon 9/30, $68.30
  • Boston Philadelphia : Wed 10/2, $48.30
  • Philadelphia Chicago San Francisco: Sat 10/5, $77.98 then $113
  • For a four-city, five-leg San Francisco Philadelphia round trip, my total spend was $518.56. An SFO – PHL round trip would probably have saved me about $220, but it wouldve been a missed opportunity to hang with my boys in Los Angeles, at the University of Michigan and at a small college in Boston: priceless.

    A big part of keeping my costs down was just being flexible but heres my general strategy for finding cheap flights, starting from the straightforward to the more nuanced :

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    Information On This Train Trip

    Daily Trains

    The average bus ticket from Chicago to San Francisco costs around CA$377 for departures 30 days prior.

    Over the last 89 days, ticket prices from Chicago to San Francisco vary and during peak season, ticket prices are around CA$627 while at other times, you can expect to pay around CA$335.

    To save money and be sure you have the best seat, it’s a good idea to buy your bus tickets from Chicago to San Francisco, as early as possible. The best time to find and book cheap bus tickets is to book at least 30 days in advance.

    If we look at the other days, booking between 30 days and 60 days before the departure will allow you to save CA$139.

    High Sierra: Sierra Nevada & The Donner Pass


    The Zephyr has yet another scenic treat in store, as she climbs high into the fir-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada. The Zephyr passes the Donner Lake and heads through the Donner Pass, where the Donner Party were stranded in the winter of 1846-7. Some of the party of 87 resorted to cannibalism, only 48 survived.

    12.45pm: Lunch – another glass of the merlot & I can’t resist another classic Amtrak burger…

    2.15pm, Sacramento. The Zephyr calls at California’s state capital and home to theCalifornia State Railroad Museum.

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    Youll Be Sad When Its Over

    When you reach your destination youll be a little sad to depart the train, now whens the last time you could say that about a flight? If you take the full route from Chicago to SF, or vice versa, you will have passed through 7 States and some of finest scenery in the USA.

    To put an end to this rambling blog post I have a short video that I took when I traveled a small section of the route 2 years previous to doing the whole route. I shot the whole thing on my phone , so forgive the video quality.

    PS. If you liked this post you might like my ramblings on

    Youll See Some Interesting People Along The Way

    Passenger Train Route California Zephyr Map

    I have taken a few trains throughout the States and for whatever reason it seems you are far more likely to encounter more interesting people via this method rather than any other. I guess maybe they are weirdos like me that actively pursue 55 hour train journies or something like that. Either way youll see some interesting stuff.

    Spotted at Colorado Springs station. Cat tethered to trolly, pet of a homeless guy.

    Also spotted at same station, another cat and a dog tethered to same trolly. All seemed pretty happy to be fair.

    Beats sitting around watching TV all day

    This little lad was unimpressed by our wheels of steel!

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    Sharing Stories And A View Aboard The California Zephyr

    A photographer traveled across America on one of Amtraks long-distance train routes. Heres what she saw.

    Glenwood Canyon in western Colorado, as seen from the observation car.Credit…

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    I woke up around 5 a.m. to a low but incessant rumbling. Faint hints of daylight had appeared over my fellow passengers heads, most of which were still bent in rest. Some people yawned others stared intently out the window at the valley. I had been aboard the train for about 40 hours, and there was still a long way to go before our scheduled arrival in the San Francisco Bay area.

    Riding westbound, I walked to the back of the train to see the rising sun reflected on the tracks. We were passing through Nevada. A few minutes later we stopped in the city of Winnemucca, Nev., right in front of the Martin Hotel, which, at the end of the 19th century, catered to the Basque immigrants whod moved there to work as shepherds.

    I boarded the train at 5:59 p.m. in the golden light of a perfectly clear day, glancing outward at the first of a long series of soy and corn fields, and small-town backyards that are so often overlooked.

    Rose, 18, Jenna, 23, two cousins donning neck pillows, were traveling home to San Francisco.

    Theres A Difference Between Travelling And Commuting

    I happen to mix with a lot of people that at some point or another head over to San Francisco to pitch their wares to the good and the great stateside. Invariably this often involves a flight to the central aviation hub that is Chicago, followed by another flight out to the West coast. Well in this blog post I am going to try and convince you that you should get off at Chicago Airport, head downtown, and catch the California Zephyr, a train which snakes across 2/3rds of the United States and over the course of 55 hours will give you an experience youll never forget.

    Taking this train is truly travelling, not commuting. By the end of it youll feel like some sort of pioneering explorer.

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    Utah’s Buttes & Mesas: Beautiful Colourful Eerie

    4.30pm: The scenery changes again. At the edge of an open plain, the Zephyr runs along a range of arid hills. The train calls at Helper and Provo, home town of Donny Osmond.

    5.30pm: Time for an early dinner with tasty salmon & white wine, with breathtaking scenery like this speeding past the window, a ground level tour right across the American Wild West.

    7.00pm: Overnight in a seat or sleeper. Pyjama time for certain small passengers , the second night on the Zephyr. The train calls at Salt Lake City and during the night it crosses from Utah to Nevada. Remember to put your watch back another hour, as you enter yet another time zone…

    Glenwood Canyon & Glenwood Springs

    52 hrs on Amtrak Sleeper Train – Chicago to San Francisco

    2.00pm: Glenwood Springs… The California Zephyr snakes through the 12-mile-long Glenwood Canyon, shared on the opposite bank with an interstate Highway, and arrives at Glenwood Springs. A major recreational centre where the Colorado & Roaring Fork rivers meet, Doc Holliday of Gunfight at the OK Corral fame spent the last years of his life here.

    The many Amish people travelling on our train get off at Glenwood Springs, see the bottom left corner of this photo. Just for the record, the Amish people we talked to on the train were friendly, very real & down-to-Earth. The photo shows the Sightseer Lounge car, with a cafe downstairs, an observation lounge above.

    4.20pm: Crossings the Colorado-Utah State Line. After calling at Grand Junction, the train enters Utah, marked with white letters on the sandstone cliffs in Ruby Canyon. These also feature steps carved by early native Americans…

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    Transfer To The Coast Starlight To Continue Your Rail Journey

    In Emeryville, you can transfer to the Coast Starlight route, which travels north to Seattle and south to Los Angeles. Its a beautiful route that stops near beaches, wineries and recreation areas. If you travel north to Portland or Seattle, you can transfer to the Empire Builder for the trip back to Chicago via the Montana Rocky Mountains. In Los Angeles, the Southwest Chief will get you back to Chicago through the New Mexico desert.

    Seeking Solace In Open Spaces

    Of course, it all links back to one simple point: we will do anything not to be lonely. And especially when you are just starting to find your place in the world, the pressure simply not to feel alone can be almost overpowering in itself.

    Because what was 2021 if not a year of tremendous, Great Gatsby-level loneliness? Drowning in empty plans of my own making, I realized that after many months of more time than I knew what to do withand after many months of resolving to lead a life of greater slowness and stillness back in the worldId suddenly found myself in a race to catch up with myself. My time had become anything but my own.

    I was anxious, tired, and deeply lonely. I knew I needed to do something to get away from it allsomething purely for myself, something that I knew no one else would ever agree to do with me.

    So there I was, heading west on a train across America.

    California Zephyr

    I told all of this to Mrs. Alvarez, and she nodded in understanding. I was one of the first female corrections officers in the history of the Florida prison system, she said.

    It is important to give some thought to your future, Mrs. Alvarez said later, but you cant let the question of the future prevent you from taking this life day by day.

    There again appeared Mrs. Alvarez, who calmly took the girl by the hand and invited her to sit a while. Out the large windows, the sun gave light to golden aspens and deep evergreens in the tall hills.

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