California Zephyr: Train schedule, route, and ticket cost (2023)

A beautiful trip brings you both happiness and a collection of memories. A train trip is one of the best ways to reveal the taste indeed.

In North America, Amtrak California Zephyr is known for the beautiful scenic trip performed from Chicago to Emeryville. A unique train service providing a 50+ hours long trip all across the nation and stationed in 35 cities.

Today I will be elaborating on the routes, schedule of the trains, cost of tickets, and all other details about the train service.

Talking about the tickets for the California Zephyr, the cheapest one found is only $7, and the most expensive one is $1,415. A one-way trip from Illinois to Emeryville costs a standard amount of $224 to $339 by Wanderu, an official partner of Amtrak. Trains offer different types of accommodations. The costs are likely to be $150 for a coach, on the other hand, $1,500-$2,000 for a higher range family bedroom.  

Each part of the article is decorated with specific information about the trains and services provided by Amtrak. 

California Zephyr

The Amtrak California Zephyr

Amtrak is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation of the United States. And California Zephyr is the longest daily route of it. This passenger train is operating a route of 3,924 km per day. Travel time is approximately 51 hours by Amtrak schedule.

It is one of the train trips that make your North American tour memorable and full of excitement. From the mountains to the icy glaciers, the ride is going to give you the thrill and experience you desire for. Once the tour is booked for the main course, there will be no more hassle to enjoy the scenic beauty of the route all over. A time-taking yet memorable journey is coming.

The train is mostly known for its good and satisfying accommodations (coach, roomette, bedroom, sleeper coach, etc.) and overall food and other services. We prefer to take the longest ride, which is a must to learn about the route and the diva of nature. With the environmental décor around the track, it becomes pleasant to observe the diverse environment of midwest and southwest America on the same trip.

It started its journey in 1949, and today we can see the latest of the electric Zephyr, offering good amenities and meal services round the trip.  

The route of the Zephyr

It travels from Illinois and Chicago to Emeryville, California, which is a 51 hours+ journey that passes by over 35 stations on the route. And also performs the largest amount of trips with 161 trips per day. The train goes by 35 cities all over the nation.

The popular routes by, an official partner of the California Zephyr, are given below,

  1. Glenwood Springs to Denver
  2. Truckee to Reno
  3. Omaha to Chicago
  4. Chicago to Denver
  5. Salt Lake City to Reno
  6. Sacramento to Reno    
  7. Denver to Lincoln
  8. Denver to Omaha
  9. Denver to Great Junction

These routes will provide you with the best scenic spots on the way. You can enjoy them simply by sitting in your coach. All other routes are full of excitement and beautiful scenario. So, people love to take the longest trip by California Zephyr.

California Zephyr Cost

The cost of the tour depends on the route and the departure station. You will be deducted only for the tickets you are about to purchase. As far as Amtrak Guide tells us, we can mention their estimated cost first. The cost here mentioned is the full route expenses according to the guide site. The estimated cost will be likely,

  • $150-$300 for the coach seat
  • $700-$1,000 for roomettes (breakfast, lunch, dinner, water, and coffee included )
  • $1,500+ for a family bedroom (meals, water, and coffee included)
  • $2,000 for a bedroom (meals, water, and coffee included)

What else could be the cost of a one-way trip by California Zephyr? The ticket prices are stated below for a more specific answer.

Ticket Prices (with departure and arrival stations)

Tickets are available for daily trips, and trains are operating daily along the route. As of today, we have included the price of tickets regarding stations the train passes by. The prices are,

DepartureArrivalTicket price
EmeryvilleSalt lake city$84-$246
Salt LakeChicago Union Station$379

The costs of the tickets for the popular routes are reasonable comparing highway moto rides. Tickets cost similar to those mentioned in the box below. The price was taken from Wanderu. Use the search tool to find the exact price and the schedule from Amtrak.  

Glenwood Springs to Denver$59
Truckee to Reno$11
Omaha to Chicago$63
Chicago to Denver$100
Salt Lake City to Reno$38
Sacramento to Reno   $38
Denver to Lincoln$62
Denver to Omaha$67
Denver to Great Junction$70

Now, California Zephyr offers short trips that are worth a try, and they cost noticeably lesser. You always need to check the latest price and availability of the train schedule from Amtrak.  

Dining at the Trip  

I don’t know if you already have found the menu at the dining in the manual. But, there are considerably good meals throughout the whole trip. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks with free beverages are given as complementary. Dinner is where you will get surprised the most.

In each of the meals, you will have desserts and drinks.

The breakfast may seem the lightest on the menu. But the lunch and the dinner will serve you a greater experience; especially at dinner. You will be served some delicious items you would desire to have at any medium to a high-end restaurant.

Items mostly served at the dining are given in the table below.

Continental breakfast Amtrak Signature Railroad French Toast Three Egg Omelet Scrambled eggs Breakfast QuesadillaMixed filed Greens and Goat Cheese Salad Monte Cristo Grilled Sandwich Natural Angus Burger Savory Chili Bowl Loaded Baked Potato With ChiliSweet Earth Plant-Based Awesome BurgerCoconut Crusted Shrimp Amtrak Signature Flat Iron Steak Atlantic Salmon Baked Brie and Raspberry EmpanadasPanko Chicken Breast Rigatoni Bolognese Chocolate Toffee Mousse Ultimate Meyer Lemon Cake White Chocolate Blueberry Cobbler Cheesecake

Complementary beverages are available during all meals. Beverages mostly available are,

  • Coffee- regular and decaf
  • Hot Tea
  • Milk
  • Orange Juice
  • Iced Tea Unsweetened
  • Bottled Spring Water
  • Sparkling Water
  • Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite
  • Ginger Ale

For children, there is a specific food menu, and they would love each of the items included in the menu. With family and kids, your trip will be a memorable part of your life, with everything completed in a good linear way. Food items for children are,

  • Classic Grilled Cheese
  • Panko Chicken Breast
  • Homestyle White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
  • Hebrew National All-beef Hot Dog

Subsidiary food items will be likely Hardwood Smoked Bacons, Premium Skinless Pork Sausage Links, Three-Pepper Natural Chicken Sausage Links, and Salsa.    

Accommodations and Layout

The train is decorated well and the layout is spectacular with different options for staying. The amenities are up to the mark. Inside the cabin, you will find the availability of

  • Air conditioning
  • Power outlet
  • Snacks
  • Restroom
  • Extra large room etc.

Amtrak offers loyalty rewards to passengers and members. Unfortunately, all the trains do not provide Wi-Fi or an internet connection at the moment. This is where a nice book would be the best company to the end of the trip. Do not get hurt by that, except for a few other trains that offer excellent Wifi service.

The interior is very clean and tidy according to 207 reviews by the passengers. People were happy to have a footrest and they said the seat tilted back nicely.


California Zephyr offers two types of accommodations.

  1. Private Room accommodations and
  2. Seating accommodations.

For a unique experience and privacy maintained journey, private room accommodation is best for a person or a family. Private room offers Roomette, Bedroom, Bedroom Suit, Family Bedroom, and Accessible Bedroom.


For customers seeking both privacy and savings, Roomettes feature two comfortable seats by day and upper and lower berths by night. Each room includes a big picture window, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens, and access to a private restroom and shower in your car.


For customers seeking plenty of comfort and room, Bedrooms provide twice the space as a Roomette and feature a sofa and armchair by day and upper and lower berths by night. Each room includes a big picture window, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens, and an in-room sink, restroom, and shower.

Bedroom Suit

For customers seeking the ultimate sleeping car experience, Bedrooms Suites combine two adjoining bedrooms featuring two sofas and two armchairs by day and four berths by night. Each suite includes two big picture windows, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens, and two in-room sinks, restrooms, and showers.

Family Bedroom

For customers traveling with kids, Family Bedrooms span the width of the car with space for two adults and two children 2-12. Each room features seating for four by day and two uppers and two lower berths by night, plus two big picture windows, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens, and access to an in-car private restroom and shower.

Accessible Bedroom

For customers traveling with a disability, Accessible Bedrooms are located on the entry-level of the train and offer ample space for a wheelchair. Each room features seating by day and upper and lower berths by night, plus a big picture window, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens, and an accessible in-room sink and restroom.

A dedicated sleeping car attendant will provide turndown service, assist with meals, help with luggage and share great stories of life on the rails. All customers in private rooms receive complimentary lounge access at major stations, priority boarding, and complimentary meals onboard.

Seating accommodations are available in three options. They are,

  1. Coach Class
  2. Business Class
  3. First Class

Coach Class is also available in two other types; reserved services and unreserved services. It is designed for comfort.

Business Class is designed for more amenities and upgraded comfort. Business class is located in a dedicated section or class on the train. 

First Class is available exclusively on Acela. Acela First Class offers a luxe travel experience complete with priority boarding, at-seat service, complimentary meals and beverages, a quiet and elegant atmosphere and so much more.

Checked baggage service and pets

California Zephyr baggage policy allows you to carry a maximum of 2 bags at the same time if they do not exceed 50 lbs of weight and 75 linear inches of diameter. The service is available in some selected stations. Willing to carry some extra baggage or baggage that exceeds the limit of the baggage policy will cost you additional fair. Thus, you need to make sure you have the proper size and weighed bags boarding with.

Luggage over 50 pounds are to charge with a standard amount of $20 per bag and up to 2 bags and baggage from 76 to 100 linear inches will also cost an additional $20 per bag.

Following the baggage policy, baggage must be checked 45 minutes before scheduled departure. Name tags and address is also required with each bag.

Pets are allowed on most of the routes with no fees and check-in is completely free of charge. A person can bear his pet if it does not weigh more than 20 lbs. Only cats and dogs are allowed as pets. Weighing over 20 lbs, your pet will require a small amount of fee. At California Zephyr, the cost is between $29 and $39 for your pet exceeding the weight limit.  

Ticket Cancellation!

Tickets can be canceled within 24 hours of your booking. If not and time exceeds more than a day, the cancellation policy will change the fair depending on the type of fare you paid for your ticket.

Saver Fare Tickets provides you 75% of your original ticket price through an e-voucher. Value Fare Tickets fully refund your money if the ticket is canceled 15 days before your departure and will cost 25% of your ticket if canceled 14 days or before. Flexible, Business and Premium Fare Tickets are fully refundable.

Remember that you will not be able to change or cancel your ticket after the train has departed. Contact the helpline ASAP if cancellation is needed.

Highlights and Attractions

Throughout the journey from Chicago to California, so many attractive places and highlighted spots are on the route. Starting with the Rocky Mountains to icy glaciers, from the plain to the shoreline, you will get the chance to enjoy every bit of mother nature.

We have brought up the highlighted and attractive spots on the way from Illinois to Emeryville. The scenic beauties of solely natural locations are going to make your dreamy tour come true. Attractions are most likely,

  • Mississippi and Missouri River
  • Colorado River
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Winter Park Ski Resort
  • California State Railroad Museum
  • Glenwood Canyon
  • Mormon Temple
  • Donner Lake

Besides, the overall scenario of the route of Zephyr will amuse with the unalike beautiful locations and weather all across North America. The interior of the train and the overall environment will excite you throughout the journey.

You can simply enjoy the best of the views from the Observation car and the View liner. Nearly all the attractions have different tastes in different environments.

California Zephyr Reviews

They say California Zephyr is maybe the most beautiful train trip in North America. Since the train is providing the best of its services, people are mostly happy to make a journey by this. On the other hand, a few complaints may obscure the scenario of the schedule of the train. Let’s see what people have to say.

Ann, Kate, R J, and many more like them found the train more efficient and attractive. The view they enjoyed was undoubtedly beautiful. Even they praised for the foods provided within. According to them, the staff was friendly and dutiful.

Many of them are concerned with the schedule of the train since it often misses. The schedule gets barely maintained with the route. Thus, passengers get bored of waiting for a long time. 

Other than that, the interior, food, service, everything is on top. And the whole trip is likely to make your journey worth loving.

California Zephyr location

The California Zephyr is an Amtrak passenger train that runs daily between Chicago, Illinois, and Emeryville, California, passing through several states along the way. The train route covers a distance of approximately 2,438 miles (3,924 km) and passes through a variety of landscapes, including the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Great Plains.

The California Zephyr stops at several major cities and towns along its route, including:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Naperville, Illinois
  • Galesburg, Illinois
  • Burlington, Iowa
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Hastings, Nebraska
  • Fort Morgan, Colorado
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Granby, Colorado
  • Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Helper, Utah
  • Green River, Utah
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Sacramento, California
  • Emeryville, California

Passengers can board or disembark at any of these locations, making the California Zephyr a popular choice for travelers exploring the American West.

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