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Zephyr in Winter


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#1 tommylicious

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:50 AM

We're considering a Zephyr trip in January. How is this route in winter (scenery, consist, delays)? Is the Chief a better trip this time of year? Thank you.

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#2 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:24 PM

I am making my first trip on the route in December, but based on the videos I have seen the scenery appears better in winter than any other season. All of the same types of cars are present although the length and order varies. Unfortunately, I believe that delays are somewhat more likely in the winter.

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Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#3 greatcats

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:29 PM

Both routes are worthwhile, but most give the scenery edge to the CZ. The main drawback is the shorter daylight hours. I live along the SWC and of the firm opinion that route has its own charms.
I was a commuter railroad employee in NJ for many years until 2002, and have since been a tour guide at Grand Canyon National Park and Ketchikan, Alaska. Also, have been a National Park Volunteer at Hawaii Volcanoes and now Sunset Crater Volcano near my home. If not on Amtrak, also like long road trips, camping some of the time.

#4 the_traveler

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:33 PM

That is also what I have heard. I plan to check it out this winter.

With my luck, when I go it will either be sunny and 80’s, no snow or raining!
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#5 Rail Freak

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:43 PM

My CZ winter trip was in February. What a beautiful trip!!! The snowy scenes thru the Rockies were fantastic & then the snow in the Sierra Nevadas was breathtaking!!! Planning on another winter trip  in 2019 (PDX-DEN)!


Edited by Rail Freak, 14 November 2017 - 12:46 PM.

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#6 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:57 PM

That is also what I have heard. I plan to check it out this winter.

With my luck, when I go it will either be sunny and 80’s, no snow or raining!

Snow is guaranteed during mid-winter in the area around Moffat Tunnel as well as Donner Pass. In addition, it is highly likely in the most of Western Colorado. It is at least somewhat possible everywhere except west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, snow is somewhat unlikely in much of the desert regions . Utah and from Denver east has about a 50% chance of at least an inch of snow on the ground.

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Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#7 pennyk

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:05 PM

My CZ "winter" trip was mid December and the scenery was fabulous.  There were no "mooners" on the Colorado River, however, there was one lone mooner in a parking lot after leaving the Moffatt Tunnel.   :giggle:


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#8 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:31 PM

For the last few years I have traveled on the California Zephyr in Winter and Spring seasons and the Winter trip is "fantastic".  Rather than take my word for it, check out the photos I took on my JANUARY 2017 ZEPHYR TRIP.  I will be taking the Zephyr in December and February this Winter.  A word of caution when making sleeper reservation. For some reason Amtrak has cut the Zephyr to "just one sleeper" in December cancelling the x32 sleeper in which I had reserved roomette and moved me to roomette in Sleeper x31 for both my west bound and east bound trips.  Why this is a mystery is that now almost all December trips are close to sell out with only a couple roomettes available in transition sleeper x40.  In fact the December 26 westbound trip is SOLD OUT entirely in coach and sleeper.  For now the indication from Amsnag is that they will still have two sleepers in January but I would caution anyone booking now to only book a room in Car x31.  My February and later April trips are booked in Sleeper x31.  FYI, different from other Amtrak routes, the Zephyr does not have an x30 sleeper.



#9 KmH

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 03:11 PM

If mid to late January the sleepers on the CZ may be towards the front of the winter consist, rather than at the end of the consist.

Loco, loco, baggage, transdorm (0540/0640), sleeper, sleeper, dining car, observation car, coach, coach, (coach as needed).

The just before and after the winter consist is shortened to just 2 coach and 2 (maybe 1) sleeper cars.

 

The rest of the year its loco, loco, baggage, transdorm, coach, coach, coach, observation car, dining car, sleeper (0531/0631, sleeper (0532/0632), sleeper (0530/0630), (sleeper as needed).

A  some 


Edited by KmH, 14 November 2017 - 03:15 PM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#10 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 05:01 PM

the zephyr is my favorite Long Distance train when it comes to scenery (I've ridden the Starloght, Builder, Canadian, Chief, etc.) and any season is great.

The Starlight and Empire Builder also offer great winter scenery.

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VIA: - Canadian*

 

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#11 Dakota 400

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 05:09 PM

A late January trip on the Zephyr for me followed by a Coast Starlight trip to Seattle.  Then, an early February trip on Empire Builder to Chicago.  The Winter scenery was simply beautiful and a true standout in my memory.



#12 BuffaloBoy

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 08:47 PM

The winter trips on the CZ are the best rides I have ever experienced! Sometimes on-time, sometimes extremely late, scenic views and wildlife abundant. It's all good if you are not in a hurry. My last trip was a great adventure (way late, a free hotel stay in Chicago) and a great crew. Would do it over and over again. One of these days I would like to ride the Chief just to see what it's all about but I don't see that happening anytime soon.



#13 KmH

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 09:17 PM

The photo above (post #10) is Byers Canyon just west of Hot Sulphur Springs.

 

I rode the Southwest Chief for the first time this last May.

I boarded at Galesburg (GBB) on Amtrak's anniversary - May 1.

I really liked day 2, scenery wise.

I was hoping the train would be 2 or 3 hours late by the time we got to Cajon Pass. Unfortunately, the train was on time so it was dark when we went over the pass.

 

My next CZ trip is booked for the first week of spring - late March.

There should still be lots of snow in the Rockies, and hopefully the Sierras will get a lot of snow this coming winter too.


Edited by KmH, 14 November 2017 - 09:30 PM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#14 niemi24s

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:07 PM

Sometimes a little dusting of late Spring (April 27th) snow, finding a clean spot on a CZ window and some work with FastStone gives a photo a bit more contrast and color saturation even under an overcast sky:

 

Attached File  IMG_2439a.JPG   270.37KB   25 downloads



#15 Lonestar648

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 12:44 AM

CZ in the Winter is beautiful,  As mentioned before, the daylight hours are shorter this time of the year, but don't let that discourage you.  It will be easier to get a seat in the SSL to take in the beauty in Colorado and California.  Overcast or sunny, the scenes are great.  Have a your camera with you all the time, even in the DC.  



#16 niemi24s

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 10:32 AM

The big enemy of good photography through a window on the CZ is a combination of rain, snow, diesel exhaust particles and tunnels (there are 40+ of them West of Denver).  Your only chance of insuring a clean window to shoot through is to clean it yourself - and that can only be done to the exterior of lower level coach or sleeper windows and the window on the entry doors at stops when you are allowed to detrain.  In addition, sunny days make for reflections off dirty windows and reflections from interior objects which detract from the captured image.

 

Taking good pix from a train isn't easy. 


Edited by niemi24s, 15 November 2017 - 10:33 AM.


#17 KmH

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 10:58 AM

Sometimes a little dusting of late Spring (April 27th) snow, finding a clean spot on a CZ window and some work with FastStone gives a photo a bit more contrast and color saturation even under an overcast sky:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_2439a.JPG

Nice composition.

Can I edit your photo some and post it?


Edited by KmH, 15 November 2017 - 11:10 AM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#18 niemi24s

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 12:03 PM

Thanx for the compliment, but it's already been cropped, sharpened, and had the saturation and contrast increased a bit.  While it's not astoundingly better than the original, it's as good as I know how to get it.  The original is on the left, the right is after my fiddling:

 

Attached File  IMG_2439 2439aA.JPG   163.92KB   23 downloads

 

The casual observer may not see much difference, but I can.  The only noticeable flaw is what appears to be internal room reflections on the tree trunks down by the river bank on the right hand side of the images.  Not smart enough to get rid of those.  Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. :)


Edited by niemi24s, 15 November 2017 - 12:16 PM.


#19 Ronbo

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 12:26 PM

The big enemy of good photography through a window on the CZ is a combination of rain, snow, diesel exhaust particles and tunnels (there are 40+ of them West of Denver).  Your only chance of insuring a clean window to shoot through is to clean it yourself - and that can only be done to the exterior of lower level coach or sleeper windows and the window on the entry doors at stops when you are allowed to detrain.  In addition, sunny days make for reflections off dirty windows and reflections from interior objects which detract from the captured image.
 
Taking good pix from a train isn't easy.

I bet you have made a chart of all the possible situations! 😃😉 Just kidding! Always enjoy viewing the various charts that you make the old school way, ink on paper, handmade!

Edited by Ronbo, 15 November 2017 - 12:27 PM.


#20 niemi24s

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 12:33 PM

Thanx for the kind word.  There's no doubt easier and quicker methods, but I'm a virtual Neanderthal when it comes to those sorts of things.  But I've a good supply of graph paper, pens and pencils.  






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