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Train at San Clemente State Beach, California
1 March, 20243 minute read

Take an Enchanting Journey on the California Zephyr

Our USA tours will take you on some epic adventures. From cosmopolitan cities to red-rocked deserts, there's no shortage of experiences that'll make your heart race with excitement. And when it comes to ways of getting around, the options are endless. You can take to the skies, hit the open road, or, as you’ll discover today, hop aboard the California Zephyr train… 

What is the California Zephyr?


The California Zephyr train travels on an iconic route operated by Amtrak that connects the windy city of Chicago to the coastal metropolis of San Francisco. You’ll get to experience the Zephyr train on our USA National Parks tour, where we jump on board in Denver and make our way to Colorado Springs. Sit in comfort and watch as incredible landscapes whizz past your panoramic windows including rugged canyons, the mighty Colorado River, and the awe-inspiring Rockies. This really is the ultimate way to travel across the USA. 

Here are a few facts about the California Zephyr below.  

Scenic marvels at every turn

Hanging Lake at Night lid by a moonlight, Glenwood Canyon Colorado
Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

Unlike driving, train travel takes a slower, more leisurely pace, providing ample time to take in the views. The seats are up high, and windows are large so you can see for miles. The train has a popular observation car with floor-to-ceiling windows, where you’ll have the chance to meet fellow travellers and learn more about the journey from the audio guide. It’s the perfect spot to witness expansive landscapes such as the plains of Nebraska, the deserts of Utah and also the emerald pine forests and rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Top tips include getting to the observation car as early as possible, so you won’t miss out on the spectacular mountain views, and to of course, take your camera.

A heritage worth celebrating

Regarded as a National Historic Landmark, the California Zephyr holds a special place in the hearts of train enthusiasts and travellers alike, preserving the legacy of luxury train travel in the United States.

Unveiling nature's masterpieces

Colorado River from Nankoweap Granaries in Grand Canyon
Colorado River

This train journey takes you through the Moffat Tunnel in Colorado, a masterpiece of engineering and one of North America's highest train tunnels. As the train snakes its way through the towering peaks, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the majestic Colorado River and the rugged Gore Range.

Hollywood cameo

The California Zephyr made an appearance in the 1966 film The Wild Bunch directed by Sam Peckinpah. It was a film that changed the way western were perceived – from its usual romantic to gritty characters.

Feast for the senses 

You can savour regionally inspired food in the train's dining car while enjoying the ever-changing scenery through large panoramic windows. From a lunchtime grilled cheese sandwich to a three-course dinner of coconut crusted shrimp and Amtrak signature Angus steak – all freshly prepared on board. Complement your meal with a wide selection of beverages, including beer, wine, spirits – but we recommend making room for something sweet too! 

Find out more about our Denver to Vegas tour here.

Joanne_Johnston bio photo

Joanne’s jam-packed travel journal includes trekking through jungles in Borneo, hiking in national parks in Canada, and learning the art of Byrek-making (a traditional spinach and cheese pie) in Albania. When she's not travelling, she’s busy blogging about motherhood, reading to her adorable twin girls and dreaming up new adventures to take them on.

Joanne Johnston | About the author

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