The California Zephyr Amtrak route travels between Chicago and Emeryville, California through the scenic Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada. This multi-day trip through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California takes about 52 hours. There are many great places to visit on the route or stay onboard for a long-distance train adventure.

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Things to Know

  • No WiFi
  • There is an observation car. Get there early for the Colorado portion of the journey.
  • Exit the train in Denver if you want to rent a car or join a tour to explore the Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • All the stations in Colorado are great paces to stay for a night or two. View Colorado Amtrak trip ideas to learn more.
  • You can get off and on the train at any station, but you’ll have to buy tickets for each segment, and in most cases, you will need to stay at least one night in the city where you get off the train.


The California Zephyr uses Superliner rail cars that are two-levels tall. In addition to unassigned coach seats, there are roomettes, bedrooms, bedroom suites, family bedrooms and accessible bedrooms (learn about the different sleeping accommodations here). Many people like the upper level for better views, but sitting or reserving sleeping accommodations on the lower level is helpful if you have motion sickness or want to be closer to bathrooms and showers. An observation car is available to all passengers, so even if you sit on the lower level, you have the option to see more scenery upstairs.


The cost of Amtrak tickets varies by type of ticket, distance traveled, time of year and how early you book your tickets. Coach seats are the most affordable, followed by roomettes and bedrooms.

Here are estimated California Zephyr 2022 prices if you travel the entire route:

  • $150-$300 for coach seat
  • $700-$1,000 for a roomette (meals, water and coffee included)
  • Over $1,500 for a family bedroom (meals, water and coffee included)
  • Over $2,000 for a bedroom (meals, water and coffee included)

Schedule Highlights

  • There is only one eastbound and one westbound California Zephyr train in each day.
  • Overnight, trains are in part of Utah and Nebraska.
  • Trains depart and arrive in Chicago in the afternoon.
  • Trains depart Emeryville (which is near San Francisco) in the morning.
  • Trains arrive in Emeryville in late afternoon.
  • Westbound trains have better arrival times in Salt Lake City.
  • You can do a day trip between Denver and Salt Lake City for views of the Rocky Mountains.

View latest schedules and timetables on

Station List

California Zephyr at a Glance

Ticket OptionsCoach Seats, Roomettes, Bedrooms, Family Bedrooms, Accessible Bedrooms
DiningCafé and traditional dining car for sleeper car passengers
Observation CarAvailable to all passengers
WiFiNo WiFi and limited cell reception in certain areas

More Information