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San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

Auckland Region...
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San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

We will be travelling from New Zealand to LA or San Fran and intend to take the Zephyr to Chicago to commence a coach trip to New Orleans. Should we make stopoffs on the journey from San Fran to Chicago and if so which would be the most interesting cities, i.e. say 2/3 stopovers, or should we stay on the train all the way and get a sleeper. We plan to do this in September of this year, weatherwise is this okay. Thank you for any info you can help with

Fremont, California
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1. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

We are doing the Zephyr this fall (I took it last fall).

This time we plan to make stops along the way for some overnights going and coming back.

The places right now we have chosen are:

1) Reno - Gambling, shows, dining

2) Salt Lake City - Mormon Tabernacle; city sights note: Train gets in really late however when going towards Chicago so may want to skip)

3) Grand Junction -we are renting a car and doing a 3 day trip to see Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands and do some hiking

4) Glenview Springs - Beautiful hot spas; right by the train tracks

5) Winter Park/Fraser - Rent a car and do the drive through Rocky Mountains National Park

Now - the problem with Amtrak is that you have to wait 24 hours for another train to come through - so whenever you stop and do anything you have to choose carefully how often you want to make an overnight of it. I am just listing the ones above we have chosen to explore further this time.

Fremont, California
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2. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

In terms of sleeper car or reserved coach

1) Only sleeper cars include meals - you can still purchase meals on board if room is available to do so.

2) If you are stopping at cities for an overnight, we are doing the following:

a) If we are traveling only during the day from A to B then we are just purchasing reserved coach seats

b) If we are travellng on the train at night and intend on sleeping, we have purchased the sleeper car.

Just wanted to mention you can do this when booking using the multiple route portion of Amtrak. It can save you some money especially if you do not plan to eat on the train (i.e. for some of these we are just traveling for example 3 hours in the afternoon from 2-5 so no need to get a sleeper car).

Hope this helps some - any questions, do ask. Thanks.

Park City, Utah
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3. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

Mini's rundown of stops is very good. You do have lots of options on the stretch from San Fran to Denver. I'll draw particular attention to Glenwood Springs, CO - probably the most charming small town on the route with lots of restaurants, decent hotels and some hot springs. And you don't need a car.

Also add Denver as a notable stop - probably better than Salt Lake if you want a large city. From Denver to Chicago it's pretty limited on worthwhile stops, but you could consider Lincoln or Omaha, Nebraska. Lincoln has a nice downtown in reasonable proximity to the train station.

The section through the mountains of Colorado along the Colorado River is breathtaking.

Have fun.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

The most convenient stop overs are Reno, Glenwood Springs and Denver. The eastbound Zephyr arrives in Reno every day at 4:pm Spend 1 night in Reno and catch the next days train at 4:pm. The Zephyr arrives in Glenwood Springs every day at 2:pm. It is a small, charming western town. Glenwood Springs Hotel is an historic mineral spa directly across the Colorado River which bi-sects the town. 24 hours would be sufficient here. The eastbound Zephyr arrives In Denver at 7:pm every day. Spend two nights in Denver - because the train comes through every 24 hour you actually have until 6:pm the last day to get back to the Amtrak Station and catch the train to Chicago. Spend at least three days in Chicago (River North/Magnificent Mile/ Streeterville and the Loop are the downtown tourist areas)

Obviously you haven't gotten your Qantas tickets yet if you're still deciding whether you are flying into LA or SF. If you begin in SF you will be at the start of the Calif Zephyr. If you start in LA you will take the Coast Starlight (do NOT take a San Joaquin train between LA and SF) north from LA to SF and have a layover in SF/EMY. The Amtrak station is in Emeryville at the east end of the SF/Oakland Bay Bridge (SF is a peninsula so there are no through trains) You can overnight at the Hyatt House across the tracks from the station or take the Amtrak transfer coach into SF. If you visit SF, spend three days.

Your "coach" trip to NOLA... What is that? A bus? A planned and guided tour? There is a daily train called the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans. The stop off city on this route would be Memphis, Tennessee.

You will want at least a roomette sleeping accommodation on the California Zephyr. The Coast Starlight between LA and SF/EMY is a daytime ride so you do not need a sleeping accommodation on that leg of your trip. The City of New Orleans is overnight so you should have a roomette if you go straight through. If you stop off at Memphis you may be able to do that in chair car.

Go to amtrk.com and download the Timetable for each train and see if the hours work for you.

Edited: 16 July 2012, 19:12
Auckland Region...
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5. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

Thanks Mini, your info helps a lot, will do a bit more homework and no doubt will get back to you. Cousie

Auckland Region...
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6. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

Thanks so much for your response. Our coach trip is with Cosmos from Chicago to New Orleans (Dixie & Rhythms 10 days). Am now thinking of flying into LAX and then taking Amtrak to Monterary and then bus to San Fran - all inclusive independant tour including one night hotel in Monteray. Say 3 nights in SF and then 3 stops Zephyr to Chicago.

Auckland Region...
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7. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

Thanks for your reply, the Springs and Denver certainly appeal - is Denver the best stop for the Rockies, we would only have time to sightsee - so thought perhaps in Denver we would see city plus Rockies.

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8. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

Cousie,

The TripAdvisor forum software is not as sophisticated as other forums. When you Reply to a message, it is replying to the entire thread, not the particular message. Therefor, there is no way to tell who you are replying to unless you address the reply to the person (as I did to you). Also, you can put your "thank yous" in one message addressed to whoever you want to thank.

9. Re: San Francisco to Chicago on Amtrak Zephyr

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