Support this website by joining the Silver Rails TrainWeb Club for as little as $1 per month. Click here for info.

California Zephyr (B)

Route Guide

California Zephyr

San Francisco* Salt Lake City


Desert Wind

Los Angeles* Salt Lake City

California Zephyr

Welcome Aboard. You are traveling on board the California Zephyr or the Desert Wind, an Amtrak Superliner train. While on board, you will be experiencing the utmost comfort and service in train travel and witnessing some of the West's most spectacular scenery.

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. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask one of your friendly on-board service staff.

The Fun Starts Here. There is a lot to see and do aboard the California Zephyr and Desert Wind, 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!

Movies and other videos are shown in the Sightseer Lounge. Throughout the summer months, special children's features will also be shown.

Hospitality Hour. Join fellow passengers in the Lounge Car for drinks and complimentary snacks, and don't forget to ask about regional specialties.

On-Board Guides from the California State Railroad Museum will provide highlights between Sacramento and Reno. This is a seasonal program and may not be available on all trains.

Stretch Your Legs in Denver. Time is limited, so be sure not to leave the station waiting rooms and platform areas. Also, it is very important to return promptly to the train when you hear the announcement to ensure a timely departure for the continuation of your trip.

The California Zephyr And Desert Wind are non-smoking trains. Smoking passengers may take advantage of schedule smoke stops. Please listen for on-board announcements of these stops.

On The California Zephyr, Watch For...

San Francisco...Alcatraz...the Golden Gate Bridge...San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait...The"Mothball Fleet" at Suisun Bay...Cape Horn...American River Valley...Soda Springs...Donner Lake...Stanford Curve...Reno...Salt Lake City...Ruby Canyon...Glenwood Canyon...Red Canyon...Gore Canyon...Byers Canyon...South Boulder Canyon...Moffat Tunnel...Plainview...Denver...Missouri River...Chicago.

On The Desert Wind, Watch For...

Los Angeles...Santa Ana Canyon...Cajon Pass...Cima Hill...Las Vegas...Rainbow Canyon...and all the sights of the Zephyr from Salt Lake City to Chicago.

Experienced Travelers say it's the most beautiful train in all of North America... and as you climb to the sky through the heart of the Rocky Mountains- and further west, the Sierra Nevadas- you'll find it hard to disagree. Certainly, it's the most comfortable way to travel between Chicago and the great cities of the West. But as you twist past the narrow canyons and towering peaks of the Rockies, following the Colorado River through a breathtakingly beautiful mountain wilderness and climb through the famous mile-high Donner Pass in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas, you won't be thinking about where you're going. You'll be thinking of how glad you are that you took the California Zephyr to get there.

This guide details some of the attractions at major pionts along the route. It is written from west to east, and may indicate whether you should look right or left.

San Francisco This cosmopolitan cultural center is the home of world famous restaurants, galleries and shops. San Francisco has the West Coast "Wall Street", a financial district comprised of several of the world's largest banks. It has world class ballet, symphony and opera companies. Amtrak passengers begin and end their journey to San Francisco with a bus ride across San Francisco Bay, either to or from the Emeryville train station. On the way is a spectacular view of San Francisco, the island of Alcatraz, and in the distance, the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

Emeryville Shuttle buses to and from San Francisco are waiting for passengers at rainside. Look for the San Francisco Bay Bridge to the west. Located in picturesque Jack London Square, the new Amtrak station is the origin of the California Zephyr.

Sacramento Home of the California State Railroad Museum-one of nation's most impressive displays of railroad equipment! The capital of California was the western terminus for the Pony Express in 1860. It was also the starting point for the Central Pacific Railroad in 1863.

Reno Known as the "Biggest Little City in the World", Reno began as a quiet rail stop and later became a boom town. The city fathers legalized prizefights, hosting the Jim Jeffries vs. Jack Johnsonfight in 1910. Gambling was legalized in 1931.

Note:At the Nevada/Utah State Line, change your watch from pacific to Mountain time;one hour later if traveling east, one hour earlier if traveling west.

Salt Lake City The wide streets lead download to Mormon monuments, including Temple Square, the Seagull Monument, the six towers of the Mormon Temple and the Beehive House. Salt Lake City is where the Desert Wind joins the California Zephyr route. Refer to the Desert Wind section of this guide for points of interest between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

Thompson This desolate region, called the nation's atomic warehouse because it is rich in uranium, is also the gateway to Canyonlands and Moab, the Arches National Park, Manti-La Sal National Forest and Dead Horse Point. The eroding mesas on the left are the Book Cliffs.

Grand Junction The Gunnison and Colorado Rivers meet here. Grand Junstion is the gateway to Mesa Verde National Park, the Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa National Forest.

Glenwood Springs Roaring Fork River meets the Colorado on the right. The infamous gunslinger Doc Holliday is buried here. Glenwood Springs was also a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, who stayed at the Colorado Hotel and enjoyed the revitalizing waters of the Yampa Hot springs.

Granby This station is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The vast meadowlands in this area make up a region called Middle Park. Evidence of aboriginal people has been found at nearby Windy Gap Dam dated at 3000 B.C.-1200 A.D., predating American Indians. Silver Creek ski area and Winter Park are across the valley to the right.

Winter Park (Fraser) This is the station for the nearby Winter Park Ski Resort. The Fraser River cuts a swath through Arapahoe National Forest and Fraser Canyon. The town of Fraser proudly calls itself the "Icebox of America" because of its winter temperatures of -50'F. The Devil's Thumb is a rock formation on top of the ridge to the left.

Denver The Mile High City is breathtaking to behold, and the Amtrak station is in the midst of it all. You'll be withi walking distance of Coors Field, restaurants and hotels in this vibrant downtown area.

Note: At the Colorado/Nebraska State Line, change your watch between Mountain and Central time; one hour later if going east, one hour earlier if going west.

Omaha was a Missouri River crossing for westbound pioneers. President Gerald Ford, Henry Fonda, Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando and Malcolm X were born here. Biys Town, a refuge for homeless and underprivileged children, is west of town.

Galesburg is the home of Carl Sandburg, writer and historian. Abe Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated here at Knox College in the building with the copper spire to the left of the train.

Princeton One of the founders of the Republican Party, John Bryant, made his home in Princeton. It was settled by New Englanders in 1833.

Chicago is the crossroad of American manufacturing and distribution, and is an important hub of the nation's railroads. The Sears Tower dominates the massive skyline along with the "Gold Coast" high-rises along Lake Michigan. As the train backs into Chicago's Union Station, it parallels the Chicago River on the left, its flow reversed in an engineering triumph. And another engineering triumph is the modern Amtrak yards and maintenance facility, which is the home of the California Zephyr. The train ends its 2,422-mile run in historic Union Station. Built in 1926, the station serves over 40 Amtrak trains and 160 commuter trains each weekday.

Desert Wind

From Chicago to Salt Lake City, the Desert Wind follows the route of the California Zephyr. But between starry nights of the Great Salt Desert and the bright lights of Los Angeles, the Desert Wind carves a path all its own through a vividly beautiful landscape of dry rivers, wind-blown sand, craggy rocks and remarkable desert colors.

Los Angeles 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. Across the street is the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, called the "last of the great stations to be built in the U.S.". A magnificent combination of Spanish and Art Deco styling, with stucco facade, tile roof and an inlaid wood ceiling, the station is often used as a set for television shows and movies.

Fullerton is the Desert Wind's stop for populous, suburban Orange County, as well as the transfer point for Amtrak San Diego trains. Nearby are some of California's most famous tourist attractions, including Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and the Movieland Wax Museum.

San Bernardino The first McDonald's hamburger stand opened here over 50 years ago. (Hamburgers were five cents each.) Before selling their business to Ray Kroc, the McDonald brothers pioneered many elements of today's fast food industry.

Barstow is mainly a railroad town comprising the yards and shops of the Santa Fe Railway. Next to the depot on the left is Casa del Desierto, one of the few remaining "Harvey House" buildings. In the late 1800s, Fred Harvey helped civilize the West with a chain of restaurants and hotels along the railroad. The "Harvey Girl" waitresses were immortalized in the Judy Garland movie of that name.

Las Vegas is the "live entertainment capital of the world". Stars from Hollywood and New York perform their own shows to packed houses on the strip. The hotels and casinos of the strip are visible to the right.

Salt Lake City is the connecting station where the Desert Wind joins the California Zephyr route on its way to and from Chicago. Refer to the California Zephyr section of this guide for points of interest between Salt Lake City and Chicago.

Scenic Photo Tips

Scenic Spots: Your train passes many beautiful and interesting sights. The "camera" symbol on the map marks the best spots, so have your camera ready!

Outside Shots: Medium speed films (ASA 64 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.

Click below for pages in the directory of TrainWeb sties:
0-9 A B C D E

ad pos61 ad pos63
ad pos62 ad pos64

Support this website by joining the Silver Rails TrainWeb Club for as little as $1 per month. Click here for info.