The California Zephyr Amtrak route travels between Chicago and Emeryville, California through the scenic Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada. Rivers, canyons, deserts and cityscapes add to the beauty of this multi-day trip through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Get information about the route below and listen to the new California Zephyr podcast episode for an overview.

Things to Know

  • No WiFi
  • You have to connect with an Amtrak bus, taxi, Uber or Lyft or other form of transit to get to and from San Francisco.
  • Get a roomette or bedroom for a more comfortable experience if you are traveling the entire route (you’ll be spending two nights on the train).
  • There is an observation car. Get there early for the Colorado portion of the journey.
  • Exit at the Denver Amtrak station if you want to rent a car and explore the Rocky Mountain National Park, or check out other Colorado Amtrak trip ideas.


You can view current schedules via Google Maps or when booking your tickets. If you know your start and end stations, you can also use the Amtrak website to create a custom timetable. Schedule highlights:

  • Overnight, the train is in part of Utah and Nebraska.
  • Trains depart and arrive in Chicago in the afternoon
  • Trains depart from Emeryville in the morning and arrive at Emeryville in late afternoon.
  • The beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery begins early in the morning, especially on westbound trains. Start your trip in Denver to quickly get into the mountains.
  • Westbound trains have better arrival times at Salt Lake City.

Major Stops

  • Sacramento
  • Reno
  • Provo
  • Salt Lake City
  • Denver
  • Omaha
  • Chicago



  • Mississippi River
  • Missouri River
  • Colorado River
  • Colorado Ski Resorts
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Reno casinos
  • National Railroad Hall of Fame
  • California State Railroad Museum
  • Iowa Wesleyan College
  • Winter Park Ski Resort
  • Gore Canyon
  • Glenwood Canyon
  • Brigham Young University
  • Mormon Temple
  • Donner Lake (Donner Party historic site)
  • San Francisco (via bus shuttle or car)

More Information