The Southwest Chief Amtrak route connects Chicago with Los Angeles and provides an old west tour of the United States. Canyons, ranches, deserts and mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for this epic journey. Exit at the Flagstaff Amtrak Station for travel connections to the Grand Canyon.

Things to Know

  • No WiFi and limited cell phone coverage
  • Like with all long Amtrak routes, hours of delays can happen
  • National park rangers typically provide on board narratives between May and September on parts of the route
  • Motion sickness can happen on the longer Amtrak trips as the trains sway, so bring medicine just in case as well as a sweatshirt and/or a small blanket because trains can be cold


Visit the Amtrak timetable for the Southwest Chief to plan your trip. You can also view schedules via Google Maps or when booking your tickets.


  • Trains depart and arrive in Chicago around 3 p.m.
  • Trains depart Los Angeles just after 6 p.m. and arrive there just after 8 a.m.
  • Total trip time is almost two full days (two nights on the train)


Overall ratings for the Southwest Chief on Yelp is 3.5/5 stars and TripAdvisor is a mix of positive and negative reviews. Here are some of the top takeaways:

  • Amazing scenery, but some reviewers recommend the views from the California Zephyr more
  • Desserts and dinner menu items can run out over the course of the long trip, so consider having early dinners to get first pick
  • Pack cleaning wipes for extra wipe down of your roomette, bedroom or bathroom
  • Passengers liked the food, but it can be expensive if you have a coach seat, so consider bringing a meal or two on board if you don’t have meals included in your ticket price

Major Stops

  • Los Angeles
  • Flagstaff
  • Albuquerque
  • Kansas City
  • Chicago



  • Chinese American Museum
  • The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
  • Japanese American National Museum
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
  • Ahmanson Theatre
  • Grand Park
  • LA Opera
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Fullerton Train Museum
  • Santa Fe Railway Historic Depot
  • Cajon Pass
  • Historic Route 66
  • Mohave Museum of History and Arts
  • Mojave Desert
  • Grand Canyon (via bus and Grand Canyon Railway)
  • Flagstaff art galleries
  • Orpheum Theater
  • San Francisco Peaks
  • Winslow, Arizona (made famous by Eagles song, “Take It Easy”)
  • Rex Museum
  • Continental Divide
  • Sandia Mountains
  • Lamy Railroad & History Museum
  • Apache Canyon Railroad Bridge
  • Santa Fe National Forest
  • Dodge City
  • Kansas State Fair
  • Cosmosphere
  • Model Rail Experience
  • Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • Kansas City Ballet
  • Missouri River
  • Mississippi River
  • Galesburg Railroad Museum
  • Discovery Depot Children’s Museum
  • Mendota Sweet Corn Festival
  • Chicago Loop
  • Willis Tower

More Information

Amtrak routes with observation cars
7 things to pack for your Amtrak trip