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. For a virtual tour, check out our audio route overview.

Things to Know

  • No WiFi and limited cell phone coverage
  • Delays are possible
  • New Mexico and Colorado are the states with daytime views and the best scenery
  • 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

Schedule

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

Highlights:

  • 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)
  • Overnight, trains are in Arizona and Kansas
  • Arrival time at Flagstaff is better on westbound trains (between 8 and 9 p.m.)
  • To see the San Bernardino mountains, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, travel eastbound in June.

Reviews

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 California Zephyr over the Southwest Chief
  • 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

Stations

Attractions

  • 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
  • Cajon Pass
  • Historic Route 66
  • Mohave Museum of History and Arts
  • Mojave Desert
  • Grand Canyon
  • 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
  • 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