Jump to content




Help Support AmtrakTrains.com by donating using the link above or becoming a Supporting Member.

Choice of CZ or SWC for a first timer.


18 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_David Archer UK_*

Guest_David Archer UK_*
  • Guests

Posted 07 March 2018 - 01:51 AM

We are flying into San Francisco from Auckland on way back to the UK and wish to experience a west coast to Chicago train ride.  It is worth hopping on a flight to LAX to then get on the SWC or is it not worth the extra trip.  It is unlikely we will get another chance to do this so wish to make the most of it.  What started to put us off is the fact of getting to Emeryville first to pick up the CZ first thing in the morning.  Would be grateful of any opinions from regular Amtrak users



#2 caravanman

caravanman

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,172 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nottingham, England.
  • Interests:Open minded travel, in which the journey is often as interesting as the destination...

Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:14 AM

Hi David,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

I have taken both trains, and in terms of scenery, nothing to compare between the two. The Zephyr is the tops for dramatic views, mountains, rivers, cliffs, valleys.

 

Going to LA to take a lesser train is not the way to go. There are some interesting views from the SWC, but I would take the Zephyr every time!

 

As you probably know, there is a dedicated Amtrak bus service from San Francisco to Emeryville station.

 

Ed.


  • pennyk likes this

#3 Philly Amtrak Fan

Philly Amtrak Fan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,845 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia Area

Posted 07 March 2018 - 08:01 AM

If you are already booked to San Fran, the Zephyr has great views of the Rocky Mountains. One other possibility however is to take the Coast Starlight from the Bay Area (can get on from Emeryville to LAX) and catch views of the Pacific Ocean and the California Coast and then catch the SWC to CHI.. Do you prefer seeing mountains or oceans? Also, you would have to leave EMY early in the morning and get in LA late at night and can't leave Los Angeles on the Chief until the next night so you'd have to spend an overnight in LA. 


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Shore Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL), Texas Eagle (CHI-DAL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/


#4 Johanna

Johanna

    Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 77 posts

Posted 07 March 2018 - 09:21 AM

I agree that in terms of scenery, the California Zephyr beats the Southwest Chief hands down.  

 

If you don't like the idea of getting to Emeryville so early in the morning, another option is to take a Capitol Corridor train (frequent departures throughout the day) to somewhere like Davis or Sacramento, stay overnight there, and then catch the California Zephyr mid-morning the next day.  Note, however, that I've never done this.



#5 cpotisch

cpotisch

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,464 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Brooklyn, NY
  • Interests:Planes, Trains, Cooking, Politics

Posted 07 March 2018 - 12:09 PM

The Zephyr is no question a better ride than the Chief - it leaves the Chief in the dust. Many people feel that the CZ is the best and most scenic train in the Amtrak system. There is virtually no reason to head down to LA, spend an overnight, and take an inferior train.


  • crescent2 likes this

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service

 

Wish List: Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome, Downeaster

 


#6 Guest_David Archer UK_*

Guest_David Archer UK_*
  • Guests

Posted 07 March 2018 - 01:54 PM

Many thanks everyone.  You have made it so easy for us to decide.  The CZ it is and so looking forward to the adventure.  We have been inspired by a BBC documentary series here in the UK by Michael Portillo, all about Amtrak and America history.  DVD's available on Amazon and we recommend it to all our USA friends who love train travel.

 

Happy travelling everyone

 

David A     UK



#7 Lonestar648

Lonestar648

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,485 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:02 PM

I have taken the CZ several times, hitting all the seasons, so I can say it is a fantastic trip no matter which season.  Winter has some spectacular snow scenes, the fall has the Aspens turning, Summer is great because you have more hours to see more of the mountains, and Spring with seasonal awakening.  Just make sure you have enough digital space on your camera because I always feel I am taking photos almost continuously.  Have a great trip!!



#8 Rail Freak

Rail Freak

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,617 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Interests:Experiencing the country by RAIL!!!
    U.S. & Native American History

Posted 07 March 2018 - 04:21 PM

Many thanks everyone.  You have made it so easy for us to decide.  The CZ it is and so looking forward to the adventure.  We have been inspired by a BBC documentary series here in the UK by Michael Portillo, all about Amtrak and America history.  DVD's available on Amazon and we recommend it to all our USA friends who love train travel.

 

Happy travelling everyone

 

David A     UK

Good Decision!!!!!!!!!

HAVE FUN


Edited by Rail Freak, 07 March 2018 - 04:22 PM.

A Rookie No More! But Still A Lot Of Track To Travel !!!
Silver Meteor #97(6) & #98 (4), Silver Star #91 (2), Capitol Limited #29 & #30(6), Empire Builder #7,#8,#27(2) &#28(4) Coast Starlight #11 (6) & #14(5), California Zephyr #5 (2) & #6 (5), Cascades #506, City of New Orleans #58, #59 (2), South West Chief #3 (4), Lake Shore Limited #49, Maple Leaf #63, San Joaquin #714, Pacific Surfliner #774, Texas Eagle #422 (2), Cardinal #50, Crescent #19, Sunset Limited #1. Approx. 60,169 miles & 41 states!

 


#9 KmH

KmH

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,962 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Is this heaven? No. It's Iowa.
  • Interests:Astronomy, photography

Posted 07 March 2018 - 04:54 PM

Yep. Expect to have your socks blown off by the scenery between Emeryville and Denver along the CZ route.

 

I'll be on the CZ again late this month OTM - SAC - OTM.

I'm planning on using 3 of the 4 cameras I'll have with me.

I'll be using my DSLR, an action camera, and my smartphone cameras to shoot video.


Edited by KmH, 07 March 2018 - 04:56 PM.

California Zephyr • Coast Starlight  • Southwest Chief • Sunset Limited • Texas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr • Capitol Corridor

. . . . Amtrak miles - 23,703, so far.


#10 zepherdude

zepherdude

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 566 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Redding California
  • Interests:I love Amtrak, the old Illinois Central and RR nostalgia dayz. I would live on a train if I could. Down with airplanes! Up with Passenger Trains!

Posted 08 March 2018 - 08:07 PM

No matter what time of the year.....the Zephyr is the best.


Edited by zepherdude, 08 March 2018 - 08:08 PM.

I have traveled, Acela, Maple Leaf, California Zephr, Capital Limited, Lake Shore Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Amtrak California, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, City of Miami, The Seminole, Florida East Coast and the Panama Limited, Texan Dinner Train, Wabash Canon Ball, New York Subway, Metro North, LIRR, San Francisco Cable Cars, Market Streetcar, St. Louis Streetcars, Prague Trams, (Prazske Tramvaje), Moscow Subway, (Московский метрополитен,) Krakow Glowny, Krakow Plaszow

>>>>>>> Why let your trip fail, always ride the Amtrak Rail! <<<<<<


#11 Dakota 400

Dakota 400

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 491 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 March 2018 - 08:37 PM

For a scenic rail journey, the California Zephyr  is the better of the two.  

 

I found the Southwest Chief's and the Sunset Limited's itinerary provided interesting to me views as well.

 

But, I still prefer the Empire Builder's itinerary.  Have enjoyed this route during Winter and Summer seasons and the views are magnificent, particularly during the Winter when there is fresh fallen snow.  And, I so well remember conversations with with the men traveling to/from their jobs in the North Dakota oil fields.  Their job experiences opened my eyes to a way of life that is lucrative in salary earned, but at a quality of life lost.   



#12 JRR

JRR

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 309 posts

Posted 09 March 2018 - 06:37 AM

I am looking forward to trying both and then I can add my two cents worth. Can’t do it this year, but hopefully next!

I really have enjoyed the debate.


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

#13 ehbowen

ehbowen

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,189 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Houston, Texas

Posted 12 March 2018 - 06:46 PM

I will agree that if you can only do one, do the Zephyr. There's nothing else quite like it in the system. But, if you can make two trips, I would encourage you to try both routes. I find such a sense of history along the old Santa Fe trail, and 90 mph running has something in its favor as well!

Sent from my STV100-1 using Amtrak Forum mobile app


Edited by ehbowen, 12 March 2018 - 08:37 PM.

  • TJGagliardo likes this

broadside-1.jpg 16 inch Armor Piercing...When you care enough to send the very, VERY best!
Visit Streamliner Schedules - Historic timetables from the Streamliner era.


#14 LookingGlassTie

LookingGlassTie

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 321 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Portsmouth, VA

Posted 12 March 2018 - 09:10 PM

I haven't ridden either train yet, but I would probably choose the CZ for the scenery, especially around Glenwood Canyon in Colorado.  I say that because I've watched a YouTube timelapse video of someone driving along I-70 through that area.


"And you know that notion just crossed my mind............"


#15 BoulderCO

BoulderCO

    Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Longmont Colorado

Posted 17 March 2018 - 06:45 PM

CZ


  • cpotisch likes this

#16 Guest_Larry_*

Guest_Larry_*
  • Guests

Posted 03 April 2018 - 11:21 PM

CZ to see the Sierra Nevada and Rockies.

#17 cpotisch

cpotisch

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,464 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Brooklyn, NY
  • Interests:Planes, Trains, Cooking, Politics

Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:04 PM

CZ to see the Sierra Nevada and Rockies.

Agreed. The rest of the route was great, but the Sierras and Rockies were possibly the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen.


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service

 

Wish List: Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome, Downeaster

 


#18 WabashMike

WabashMike

    Train Attendant

  • Training
  • Pip
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio
  • Interests:Steam locomotives, American History, train travel

Posted 08 April 2018 - 11:27 PM

Caveat: I’ve only been on the Zephyr so I have no comparison, but definitely take the Zephyr


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
  • cpotisch likes this

#19 chakk

chakk

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,230 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 24 April 2018 - 06:02 PM

I’ve been on them all from the West Coast to Chicago. And for a first-timer, the CZ is definitely the choice. You can get an Amtrak ticket starting in San Francisco with a bus connection from several locations in the City that travels across the Bay Bridge to meet the CZ’s starting point in Emeryville.
  • cpotisch likes this



Reply to this topic



  

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users