According to my geeky USA by Rail book, the California Zephyr is one of the world’s great train lines. It takes 2.5 days to cross the 2,438 miles (3,922km) from Chicago to San Francisco, spanning 3 time zones, passing through Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno and Sacramento.
You might think it’s a bit crazy to sit on a train for well over 50 hours when I could have flown in less than 10% of the time. But by far this has been the best train journey I’ve done in my life. The scenery is gorgeous and the trains not to bad either. The seats are comfortable and recline back with a footrest that comes out and you get about 3 foot legroom between you and the seat in front. There is a dining car for proper sit down meals with table service, there is a lounge car selling snacks and drinks and an observation car with huge windows and seats facing outwards. Sleeping on the train takes some practice, but it’s not too bad especially if you can get a double seat to yourself.
On the way I’ve travelled through Leafy towns, prairies, deserts, ghost towns, mountains, forests
and canyons. The highlight was following the Colorado River from Denver to the state Utah state line. The conductor’s voice kept popping up on the PA with titbits of trivia about the local landmarks w and wildlife. Apparently there where bears running around, but I didn’t see them.
The windows of the train are quite scratched and when the sun shines on them it makes it difficult to take photos through, so apologies for the blurry bits and poor quality of some of the photographs.
I’m really glad I made the decision to take the train over flying and hope I get the chance to do it again sometime.
I’m just heading into San Francisco now, where I’m staying for 6 nights so should be a little bit less hectic than the last few places I’ve been to.
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