Amtrak Southwest Chief
Route Guide of travel on the Amtrak Southwest Chief.
Discover the startling beauty
of the desert Southwest on
an odyssey you'll never forget.
Chicago * Kansas City
Albuquerque * Flagstaff
You are traveling on board the Southwest Chief, an Amtrak®
Superliner® train, that follows the historic and scenic Sante Fe Trail
between Chicago and Los Angeles. While on board, you will be experiencing
the utmost comfort and service in train travel along with many of the
same vistas first viewed by the early settlers.
All of us at Amtrak are proud to have you aboard today, and want to ensure
your trip is everything you want it to be in travel. If you have any
questions, please do not hesitate to ask one of your friendly on-board
THE FUN STARTS HERE.
There is a lot to see and do aboard the Southwest Chief, from
relaxing, socializing with family and friends, or enjoying a wonderful
meal. Please listen for announcements of the specific times and
locations of activities, and most of all -- have fun!
and other videos, in the Sightseer Lounge Car.
During summer months, features for children will also be shown.
On-board Indian Country Tour Guides
from the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial Association of Gallup, New Mexico.
Your guide will ride the train between Gallup and Albuquerque, pointing
out scenic highlights and discussing regional history, culture and
folklore. Please join us in the Lounge Car and learn about the fascinating
country you are passing through.
The Chief's Round-Up
will start your travel off right. We invite you to join fellow passengers
in the Lounge Car for Southwest Chief's own chips and salsa or guacamole
and other southwest specialties.
are also on the agenda in the Dining Car. Just listen for announcements
and join in the fun.
Stretch your legs
in Albuquerque. Take some time to shop the Indian trading posts in the
nearby pueblos for unique crafts and souvenirs. Time is limited so be
sure not to leave the platform area. Also, it is very important to return
to the train when you hear the announcement to ensure a timely
departure for the continuation of your trip.
MEET THE CREW
The Conductor is in charge of all crew members aboard, and is responsible
for the collection of tickets and the safe operation of the train. The
Chief supervises the on-board service people, and is responsible for the
service you receive while you are on the Southwest Chief.
ON-BOARD ACCOMMODATIONS THAT PAMPER AND PLEASE
Roomy Coach Seats with a Coach Attendant ensures that you are
comfortable and well taken care of during your travels. Please keep in
mind that seats are assigned for the duration of the trip. If you wish
to change seats consult your Attendant first. Please do not re-seat
First Class Service is provided to you by your Sleeping Car
Attendant. Your Attendant will prepare your room for daytime or nighttime
travel, provide wake-up service and bring your morning paper and beverages
to your room. Meals and other amenities are included with your First Class
accommodations. Individual speakers bring you recorded music (Channels 2
and 3) and train announcements (Channels 1 and 2). The channel selector
is located near the reading light in your room.
Private Sleeping Accommodations are available based on your needs.
Deluxe Rooms can accommodate two adults and have a private restroom and
shower. Family Rooms can accommodate up to two adults and three children,
and also have a private restroom and shower. (Steve's note: This is not
correct. The Family Room does not have its own private restroom and shower.
However, don't be too concerned. There are 3 restrooms and a shower on the
same level with the Family Room. I have never found all 3 restrooms in use
at once and it isn't difficult for everyone to get their turn in the shower).
Economy Rooms can accommodate one or two people. Ample public restrooms and
showers are conveniently located in the lower level of the Sleeping Car.
Sleeping Accommodations may be purchased on board from the Conductor (subject
Sightseer Lounge Car on the Southwest Chief allows you to
view the spectacular scenery along the route through the panoramic windows
on the upper level of the car. The lower level offers light dining where
sandwiches, snacks and beverages, in addition to various sundry items, can
be purchased. The Lounge Car also features first-run movies, a Hospitality
Hour with specialty drinks, and complimentary snacks during the evening.
THE SOUTHWEST CHIEF will leave you with a lifetime of memories
of the spectacular beauty and unique flair of the Southwest, from a
route that was blazed by Native Americans and followed by conquistadors,
fur trappers, settlers -- and now you.
There are marvelous sights throughout this journey: Los Angeles and the
famous Cajon Pass (Steve's comment: Under the current schedule, the
Southwest Chief goes through the Cajon Pass around midnight going west
and around 5 A.M. going east, so it will probably be dark. I have as
yet to see the Cajon Pass on my six trips through it! I think the
Desert Wind goes through the Cajon Pass during daylight.); the fertile
fields of Kansas, the great Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the famous
But it's dazzling landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico that will leave you
absolutely astonished. You'll see pueblos hundreds of years old. Fantastic
lava flows and geological formations. Breathtaking canyons -- some just a
few feed wider than your train. Distant views of towering mountains,
burning red in the southwestern sunlight.
This guide is written from west to east, noting how many minutes past the
previous Amtrak® station you can expect to see a particular sight and
whether you should look right or left. The first time reference tells you
how far that point is from the station to the west, and the second time,
how far it is to the Amtrak stop to the east.
The sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles began in 1781 as El Pueblo
de Nuestra Senora de la Reina de los Angeles. Today, the village's
original site is marked by the historical park of Olvera Street, lined
with brightly colored Mexican shops and old buildings.
Pasadena Known for its annual New Year's Day Tournament of Roses
Parade and the Rose Bowl football game. (Steve's comment: This Route Guide
is brand new as of October 1996, but the Southwest Chief has not gone
through Pasadena in well over a year! The map printed on the Route Guide
correctly shows the Southwest Chief going through the Amtrak Fullerton
station instead of the no longer existing Pasadena station.)
Just east of here, the train ascends Cajon Pass, the boundary formed by
the San Andreas Fault between the San Gabriel and San Bernardino
Mountains. Here the train climbs 2,743 feet in 25 miles, twisting and
turning to 3,811 feet above sea level.
Mojave Desert Once past the summit of the pass, we enter high desert
country, following the route of the Mojave "River," filled in spots with
quicksand. Joshua trees line the tracks.
Time change (12 Min./51 Min.)
November through April, set your watch forward one hour if you are
traveling eastward; back one hour if heading westward. May through
October, Arizona is on the same time as California.
Bus connections serve Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Railroad and Phoenix.
Canyon Diablo (32 Min./24 Min.)
We begin our journey through the Navajo reservations. On your left are
stone ruins and a trading post.
A major trading post for Navajo and Hopi Indians.
Holbrook (26 Min./71 Min.) On your right are magnificent striped
sandstone outcroppings, just a hint of the beauty of the nearby Painted
Desert and Petrified Forest. On your left is the restored Blevins House
where Marshall Owens shot five outlaws.
Time change (80 Min./19 Min.)
Arizona/New Mexico State Line. If you are traveling eastbound set your
watch ahead one hour; back one hour if you are westbound.
The best stop along the route for side trips to the Southern Colorado
Mountains, Mesa Verde National Park, the Petrified Forest, the Painted
Desert, ancient cliff dwellings in Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto,
and also Durango.
Red Cliffs of New Mexico For the next hour, the train follows
these famous hills, noted for their changing colors. Legend has it that
the rocks got their color from the blood of a wounded stag as it fled
through the hills. Also in the Red Rocks are pre-pueblo Anasazi settlements,
once centers of a prehistoric Indian trading network.
Anzac (59 Min./76 Min.) Note the exposed lava beds on your right.
McCartys (63 Min./72 Min.) On your right is the first of many Indian
pueblos visible along the route.
Kneeling Nuns (84 Min./50 Min.) This rock formation, on your left
and back, appears to be two nuns praying as the face left towards a rock
Rio Grande River (122 Min./10 Min.) Note the tamarisk trees (also
called salt cedars), and lavender-topped bushes that require little water.
Site of the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival and service stop for the
Southwest Chief. Here, stretch your legs or buy crafts from the Tiwa Indians
on the platform.
Sandia Pueblo (25 Min./52 Min.) The best view of the 10,678-ft. high
Sandia Crest, surrounded by Cibola National Forest.
The stop for Santa Fe with shuttle service for easy connections.
Apache Canyon (5 Min./10 Min.) The train weaves through a spectacular
granite gorge, so narrow the rock is at times just one foot from the train.
Canoncito (13 Min./92 Min.) From Lamy to Glorieta, you ascend 1,000 feet
in 10 miles through areas of bright red, dry, creek beds called the Glorieta
Pass. On your left is the first look at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
meaning "blood of Christ" and commemorating the suffering of the early
Spanish explorers who crossed them.
With the coming of the railroads came a rowdy New Town, attracting
unsavory folks like Billy the Kid, until West Bank vigilantes cleaned it
up and cleared it out.
At the base of the Raton Pass which crosses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Fisher's Peak is to the right, a rocky promontory rising almost 10,000 feet.
Back and to the left are the twin Spanish Peaks (called "Breasts of Mother
Earth" by the Indians
Junction of the Santa Fe Trail and the Cimarron Cut-Off. On a clear day,
you can see Pike's Peak from here, 100 miles to the north on the left.
Just east of the city is the most famous trading post of old Colorado,
Bent's Old Fort, where scout Kit Carson once worked.
Coolidge (25 Min./50 Min.) Colorado/Kansas State Line. If you are
traveling eastward, set your watch forward one hour; back one hour if
This most famous of western cities was first a trading post, then a Civil
War fort (Ft. Dodge), then a railroad boom town. Here, Bat Masterson,
Wyatt Earp, Col. George Custer and Doc Holliday lived -- and notorious
bad guys died, many sent to Boot Hill on your right. Hangman's Tree still
stands, and Front Street, on the left, has been restored to look as it did
in 1875 when the town was known as "the wickedest little city in America."
This was the starting point for the old Santa Fe Trail, the town where
westerners like Bat Masterson and Wild Bill Hickock would buy last-minute
provisions before heading west.
Sugar Creek (15 Min./85 Min.) Once the headquarters of Jesse James,
killed in nearby St. Joseph.
Walt Disney spent part of his childhood here. The initials he carved into
a school desk are still legible, as are the hand-cut charcoal drawings on
the northwest wall of the home he lived in until age six. His star, Mickey
Mouse, was in fact created while Disney traveled the route of the Southwest
Chief on the Santa Fe Railway. Walt Disney Park is on your left, sporting
steam engine #2435 of the old Santa Fe.
The Southwest Chief travels only 20 miles in Iowa, and this is its only
Mississippi River (5 Min./50 Min.) Cross the state line between
Iowa and Illinois over the wide Mississippi River on a 3,347-ft. long
As you enter, you'll first see railyards, power plants, and refineries,
all indications of a manufacturing giant. Then as you approach the
station, the skyline of the city itself emerges on the right. Note the
profile of the Sears Tower, 100 stories high and just two blocks east of
Union Station. The station, marble-pillared with impressively high
ceilings, is conveniently close to office centers in the Loop, wholesale
markets at the Merchandise Mart, the Mercantile Exchange for commodities,
and exciting shopping on Michigan Avenue.
Scenic Photo Tips
SCENIC SPOTS: Your train passes many beautiful and interesting
sights. The "camera" symbol on your Route Guide Map marks the best spots,
so have your camera ready!
OUTSIDE SHOTS: Medium-speed films (ASA 200 or higher) are recommended
for shooting scenery through the train windows. If your shutter speed is
adjustable and light conditions permit, set it at a higher speed (1/125 or
1/250 sec.) for the clearest results. Hold your lens close to the window to
eliminate glare and reflections.
INSIDE SHOTS: Flash is recommended. To avoid glare and reflections,
do not point the flash directly at the windows.
Visit related pages from this and other web sites:
|Click below for pages in the directory of TrainWeb sites:|