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“If possible treat yourself to a sleeping cabin”
Review of California Zephyr

California Zephyr
Ranked #32 of 431 Transportation in California
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Since 1949 this Amtrak train has taken travelers on scenic rides between Roseville, IL and Oakland, CA.
Reviewed 20 April 2014

Super three day trip through mountains, snow , sheer drops interspersed with deserts. Tremendous landscape changes. Great pity Reno train station is now enclosed in some kind of tunnel preventing sight of its lively attractions. Meals included in sleeping cabin rate.and Okayish. Staff very good and a superb and lengthy welcoming speech about keeping bathrooms , lavatories clean and "your business...private".
My tip....cancel the San Francisco- Chicago plane ticket and see something of America's diverse and dramatic landscape and geology on this trip. You will also meet lots of nice folk.

15  Thank shilohWarrington
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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452 - 456 of 766 reviews

Reviewed 20 April 2014

I took this train from Emeryville, CA to Chicago, IL. I had a bedroom (not a roomette) in one of the sleeping cars. If you can afford it, definitely reserve a roomette or bedroom. For a long trip like this, it is worth the extra money. You get more room and more privacy. I prefer the bedroom because it has a shower and toilet in the room. Superliner roomettes do not have toilets in the room. Also, the lower bed in a bedroom is bigger than in a roomette. Also, for two people traveling, there is more room in a bedroom. It would be a little cramped in a roomette. Meals in the dining car are also included in the price of a sleeping car ticket. If there are less than 4 people in your party, you will be seated with other people. Amtrak calls it community seating. I wasn't feeling very social so I had my sleeping car attendant bring my meals to me in my bedroom. Yes, you can do that. It was a long trip, about 2 1/2 days. The train left Emeryville, CA Monday morning 9:10 and arrived in Chicago, IL Wednesday afternoon around 4:00. The problem is that the rail lines are owned by a freight train company not Amtrak. Therefore whenever a freight train came by, it gets the right of way over Amtrak. We were running on time until we got to Denver then we had to wait for about an hour for a freight train to pass by before we could get going. We ended up being about 2 hours late getting into Chicago. Still, considering the length of the trip, about 2 1/2 days, that's not too bad. We passed through the Rocky Mountains and the view was spectacular. Taking the train is a great way to see the country. If you are not in a hurry, I would highly recommend taking the California Zephyr. I loved it and would do it again.

12  Thank pats80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2014

My wife and I, who are from New Zealand, stayed the night in Emeryville and then caught the Zephyr at 9.am the following morning. We were welcomed at the station with enthusiasm and that great reception was followed up on the train by a great bunch of people.The train left on time and our fellow passengers were a joy to behold, everyone were in a real good mood the whole trip. The scenery can only be described as stunning and going along side the Colorado River through the Rockies is a special treat, saw 3 bears, a coyote and golden eagles. Plenty of snow on both the Sierras and Rockies so that added to the experience. We were 2 hours late getting into Chicago (owing to track work requiring us to wait for the west bound Zephyr to pass first) which, after two and a half days on the train I thought was not too bad. But lets face it , I didn't want to get off! Well done Amtrak.

10  Thank rodger2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 April 2014

I took the zephyr from San fran to chicago..initially dreading the 54 hours but after 2 and a half days on board it was def worth it! You get to see the REAL USA , spectacular views, made loads of friends on board, all personalities, some regulars some first time solo travellers like me...I had a coach seat very wide good leg room, granted its not comfy to sleep but nothing but a bed usually is! Please bring a blanket as it gets chilly at night I ended up buying mine for 15$...there is NO wifi on board so its all about reading chatting to people and taking in the views. My attendant was a guy called Lonnie absolutely great guy and a real gentleman, he made sure everyone was super comfy and the cart as well as toilets were impeccable at all times. The food in the cafe wasn't great at all..and the dinning cart you're looking at $20 for an ok meal. bring lots of snacks and just deal with the cafe..not much choice there. I'd def recommend this trip :)

4  Thank BritSpain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 April 2014

Did the 2x6 hour round trip from Denver to Glenwood springs and all it cost was $83! This sector is probably the most scenic of the route and goes in daytime (although trains can be really very late indeed so that's not guaranteed). From Denver the train goes through 'freight yards' then past back gardens in the suburbs then executes a stunning switchback probably visible from space with 8500 horsepower of twin locomotives inching up the slope as the train gradually pulls itself around 4000 up and gets to the snowline (In april anyway) before passing through a 6 mile tunnel and emerging at a ski resort with frozen streams and snow etc.. Scenery is great all the way, you won't even look at your book for 6 hours with gorges, rapids etc. (the train follows water almost the whole way from Winter Park to Glenwood).
I did Southwest chief LA to Chicago previously with a sleeper but Zephyr in a standard seat was way better. I don't think it matters too much which side you sit, the views are all good and you can move around easily.
The standard carriages are very comfortable and spacious and you can take photos without reflections, whereas in the observation car (where it was easy to get a seat) all my photos had reflections + the seats not as comfy.
Had breakfast and dinner. Not cordon bleu but enjoyable enough and not too pricey plus the dining car staff are good entertainment.
There's acres of storage for bags and it seems half a dozen 'washrooms' per carriage.
Train rattles and rolls, gives way to everything else that moves and often does not seem to go faster than walking pace so don't take this for high speed or reliable connections, it's just great entertainment at a ridiculously low price.

8  Thank James B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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