Many people claim the best way to see and appreciate the stunning views that North America has to offer is by rail - and we do not disagree. After a few nights spent in Chicago, board the California Zephyr and head west to thriving San Francisco, taking in the stunning yet contrasting landscapes along the way. Climb through the heart of the Rocky Mountains, stare at the deserted plains of Nebraska and journey through the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We recommend taking in the natural surroundings and city stops along the way. Make your first stop Denver, nicknamed "The Mile High City", spend two nights exploring the city or take to the slopes at one of the many ski resorts dotted across the nearby mountains.
Jump back on the train and head to Salt Lake City, a city surrounded by natural beauty. Hike around Great Salt Lake, or hire a motorhome giving you the perfect opportunity to explore Utah's Mighty Five®. Use five nights to make the most of this scenic region of dramatic landscapes, visit Canyonlands National Park or Bryce Canyon National Park to name a couple and marvel at ancient rock formations whilst driving along open highways. Hop back on the California Zephyr, head further west overnight from Salt Lake City, and arrive in Emeryville late afternoon before making your way to San Francisco. Cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, head to Wine Country and dine in the city's Chinatown district - we recommend spending a further three nights in San Francisco to ensure you see as much as you can.
- Try 'TILT' at Chicago 360 for a thrilling way to take in the Chicago skyline
- Upgrade to a Superliner Bedroom on your Amtrak train for additional comfort
- Book the Early Bird Special for your motorhome for hotel pick-ups and beat the queues
- Hire a car and explore San Francisco's surrounding wine regions
Start your Journey
Discover the world-famous home of the blues, skyscrapers and deep dish pizza. Chicago is a city with fantastic buzz and so much to see, do and experience.
Spend some time strolling through picturesque Millennium Park taking in its fascinating art installations, including the famous 'Cloud Gate' sculpture by British artist Sir Anish Kapoor before heading to 'Travern at the Park' to try its famous Cloud Gate cocktail.
Take a guided bike tour or a river cruise to explore the city's famous architecture and history as the birthplace of the skyscraper or check out it legendary music scene in any of the blues bars dotted around the city - don't forget to order an authentic Chicago deep dish pizza before you leave.
Chicago to Denver
Start your cross country adventure today as you board Amtrak’s California Zephyr ready to head through the spectacular scenery and changing vistas of the mid west. Settle into your private sleeping car cabin, whether you choose a Roomette, with its comfortable upper and lower berths, or the more spacious Superline Bedroom with private bathroom and shower, you will enjoy personal service and on-board dining.
If you are feeling peckish stop in at the Dining car where you can enjoy full-service hot meals prepared by Amtrak chefs while the scenery glides by your window.
Make your way past picturesque towns such as Princetown, Illinois once a major stop on the Underground Railroad and Nebraska's state capital, Lincoln as you wind your way to the mountain city of Denver.
Denver to Salt Lake City
Re-board the California Zephyr as it makes its way through the stunning mountains of Colorado and the picturesque Great Plains. Journey through Moffat Tunnel, the impressive architectural wonder which cuts through the Rockies and carries you across the Continental Divide. Pass by Ruby Canyon and enjoy your final glimpse of the Colorado River as you cross over into Utah and on to state capital, Salt Lake City.
Utah’s Mighty Five®
Spend some time exploring Salt Lake City’s highlights, such as Utah State Capitol building, Liberty Park and Temple Square; home to the Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake Temple and The Beehive House.
Or why not hire a motorhome and head out on the open road to explore Utah’s Mighty Five ® national parks? From the towering depths of Canyonlands with its remarkable sandstone spires to the red rocks of Arches and the raw beauty of Zion, spend some time uncovering the rich and varied terrain of these magnificent national parks and capture some wonderful life long memories before returning to Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City to Emeryville / San Francisco
All aboard for the last leg of your cross country rail journey. The large panoramic windows of the Sightseer Lounge/Café makes it perfect car for sitting back and watching the spectacular scenery roll past as the California Zephyr makes its way to California.
On-board guides from the California State Railroad Museum will also provide historical and sightseeing commentary between Reno and Sacramento seasonally.
Leave the train behind in Emeryville and jump on the Amtrak Thurway bus to complete your journey to San Francisco.
Spend a few days enjoying the ‘City by the Bay’.
Hop on one of the city’s iconic cable cars and head to Fisherman’s Wharf to stroll along the one of a kind boutiques and restaurants along San Francisco’s waterfront and be sure to stop by Pier 39 to see the sea lions basking in the sun.
Take a bike ride across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, visit the peaceful Japanese Tea Gardens or take a tour of Alcatraz Island home to the infamous prison.
Or why not take a day trip to Napa Valley to explore California’s scenic wine region and sample some of the fantastic vintages from the local vineyards.
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The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.