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AMTRAK ZEPHYR train, East-West, West-East, stopovers?

AMTRAK ZEPHYR train, East-West, West-East, stopovers?

Old Sep 28th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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AMTRAK ZEPHYR train, East-West, West-East, stopovers?


We feel attracted to a Chicago-Emeryville train trip (the Amtrak Zephyr) and would be happy to be informed by people who actually did the trip, although all input is welcome.
We normally take a 3 week vacation, usually starting mid July. We would be a party of 4, 50-60yrs old, in very good shape.
Spending approx. 3 days on the place of departure and arrival would leave us with a fair 2 weeks to do the train trip.
We would have some stops, for 2 to 3 nights (or more is worth it), at places to be determined, to visit the area (radius some 200 miles) with a rented car.

Q1. Which direction; Emeryville - Chicago or Chicago - Emeryville, question asked especially with the sightseeing in mind, as e.g. it would be a pity to pass the Rocky Mountains during nighttime?

Q2. Where would you leave the train for 2-3days stopovers, and to see what?
baldrick is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2015, 06:05 AM
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Can you tolerate coach seating or will you want 2 roomettes or a family bedroom?
The most scenic part is east of Glenwood Springs in the Glenwood Canyon which is in mid afternoon. The east and wesbound trains meet usually less than half an hour east of the scenic canyon of the Colorado River.
I'll add more later.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 06:13 AM
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Agree with Tom. Do not count on the train arriving at either end on time since Amtrak services (other than in the Northeast Corridor) are subject to delays because of freight services.

Have you considerec taking the ViaRail Canadian through the Rockies there? Muvh better service and food and you'll see more mou tai s, too.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 08:28 AM
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I've done the trip several times in each direction and only once have I missed the eastern Rockies because of darkness. To answer your specific question, in my view, whether to take it westbound or eastbound is a matter of personal convenience.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 08:46 AM
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Hi Baldrick,

I recommend east to west. My reason has to do with the pleasure of anticipation: the West just has so much gorgeous scenery: Sierra Nevada, Glenwood Canyon, arriving in the Bay Area. As an Easterner, I personally like that sense of excitement as you're passing through the plains that there is going to be such beautiful scenery awaiting you the next day and that initial glee I feel catching the first glimpse of mountains a bit east of Denver.

I've toyed with the idea of overnighting in Denver or Glenwood Springs but other trips seem to happened instead over the years.

Enjoy! This is one of my fave train rides anywhere (be sure to plan for possible delays though).

Best wishes, Daniel
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 08:50 AM
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It actually makes no difference -- as dwooddon says decide based on best flight schedules (assuming you are flying in/out) or other convenience.

I'd maybe consider breaking in Reno, picking up a rental car for 2 or 3 days of days and visit Lake Tahoe, Virginia City and Truckee, drop the car and continue on from Reno to Emeryville.

Or even . . . end your journey at Reno and use the car for a week to explore the Sierra/Tahoe/Yosemite and drop the car in San Francisco. (This would be my preference)
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 09:03 AM
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I've done this trip several times, most recently eastbound from Sacramento to Galesburg Iowa last March.
I had a roomette that I paid for with Amtrak Guest Reward points. You can join AGR (free) and earn points for online shopping as well as paying for Amtrak travel.
Glenwood Springs is near the mid-point on the California Zephyr route. I have spent a couple of nights there.
Attractions include a bike/hiking trail along the Colorado River, Glenwood Caverns with a gondola ride up to the top, bus service to Aspen (41 miles) and even the Glenwood cemetery with the monument stone for Doc Holliday.
For renting a car to go see Arches, Mesa Verde and others, you might want to ride as far as Grand Junction.
Amtrak has several stops that can be shortened to make up some time if they are running behind.
The latest train that I was ever on was the ViaRail Canadian (16 hours late arriving in Winnipeg) and it only runs 3 days per week. The cost per mile is somewhat more on the Canadian.
Were you planning on flying one way and riding the train the other?
If you like riding long distances in coach you can save a lot of money by buying a 15 or 30 day USA Rail Pass for each member of the group. This allows you to stop in several town/cities for 2-3 days.
Even if the Zephyr is late, you will arrive at all Colorado destinations in daylight. Today's Zephyrs are running less than an hour late. YMMV.
With 30 day USA Rail Passes DW and I started a trip at Albany Oregon and got as far from home as Kissemmee Florida. On the way back we stayed in Albuqerque and Yosemite.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 09:29 AM
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Excuse me but it was Galesburg Illinois. The Enterprise rental shop is about 100 yards from the train station.
I earned AGR points on my seven day rental. During the seven days I drove in 20 states for over 3200 miles.
I left Galesburg on the Southwest Chief instead of the CZ.
I enjoyed the SWC with a very short layover before boarding the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles to head home to Oregon.
The Coast Starlight was less than 20 minutes late at my stop in Chemult Oregon
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 10:39 PM
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Txs all,

we would be 2 couples, so 2 roomettes it would be. i saw some info on youtube about the roomettes.
ok for glenwood springs as a stopover.

no we have not considered the ViaRailCanadian. The Zephyr caught our attention partly because both ends have direct flights from Switzerland where we live. But I will look into the VRC.

dwooddon, daniel, janisj
good to hear it makes no difference but i can understand the pleasure of anticipation in "going west".

Thanks to all of you, keep it coming if you have more.
Have a nice day!
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Old Sep 29th, 2015, 01:11 AM
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I like JanisJ's plan.
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Old Sep 29th, 2015, 02:15 AM
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Hi Michelle,
We have done Tahoe and Yosemite already on a previous trip. Wouldn't mind to do it again, but there is so much to see.......
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