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Rail journey: Chicago, Illinois to San Francisco, California


Whichever way you travel – Chicago to San Francisco or vice-versa – the 2,438-mile cross-country journey on the California Zephyr is a breathtaking experience. From the impossibly majestic mountain ranges of the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, to the vast expanse of the Utah desert, the route offers stunning scenery from start to finish. Head for the Sightseer Lounge/Café for the best panoramic views – sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular from here.
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Dynamic Denver, Colorado’s capital, is the perfect mix of contemporary and vintage, with its Wild West heritage and modern culture. Head for the Lower Downtown district (LoDo) to see historic architecture, eat in hip restaurants and shop in specialist boutique stores. If you want to keep the rail theme going, visit the Colorado Railroad Museum. Whether you’re starting or finishing your journey in San Francisco, you’ll want to spend several days exploring its laid-back charms. A boat trip to Alcatraz is a must, as is a trip over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
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The California Zephyr (the CZ, or "Silver Lady") is a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area (at Emeryville), via Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno. At 2,438 miles (3,924 km), it is Amtrak's second longest route after the Texas Eagle, with travel time between the termini taking approximately 51​.5 hours. Amtrak claims the route as one of its most scenic, with views of the upper Colorado River valley in the Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada.
 
[post_ads]Before Amtrak, the California Zephyr was a passenger train operated by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q), Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) and Western Pacific railroads, all which dubbed it "the most talked about train in America" on March 19, 1949, with the first departure the following day. It was scheduled to pass through the most spectacular scenery on its route in the daylight. The original train ceased operation in 1970, though the D&RGW continued to operate its own passenger service, the Rio Grande Zephyr, between Salt Lake City and Denver using the original equipment until 1983. Since 1983 the California Zephyr name has been applied to the Amtrak service, which operates daily and is a hybrid of the route of the original Zephyr and its former rival, the City of San Francisco.

During fiscal year 2016, the California Zephyr carried 417,322 passengers, an increase of 11.2% over FY2015. The train had a total revenue of $51,950,998 in FY2016.

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Travel Gallery: Rail journey: Chicago, Illinois to San Francisco, California
Rail journey: Chicago, Illinois to San Francisco, California
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