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Dan O

Denver to LAX

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I'd like to take the California Zephyr to someplace in northern California before transferring to a train that would take me to LA. If I didn't care to see the best of the Rockies, I could just take a bus to the SWC and arrive at 8 or so in the morning. But if I want to go through the Rockies I have to either spend the night someplace or get into LA in the middle of the night, 1 AM. I see there is another bus/train/bus combo that arrives around 3 AM. It would be nice if they had something that arrived at a more reasonable hour, even as early as 5 AM.   Oops, see one that gets in at 935 AM but it involves a bus ride from Oakland to Santa Barbara. In that case it might just be better to take a bus from SAC or so to LA. Just seems odd to me that there are a number of trains heading south each day but the only ones that can be taken by CZ passengers arrive in the dead of night. 

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1 hour ago, brianpmcdonnell17 said:

CZ to Sacramento, San Joaquin to Bakersfield, and thruway bus from there.

I see. I personally wouldn't want to take a several hour trip on a bus arriving at its destination at 1:00 AM, so if you can afford it and have the time, I highly recommend you take the CZ to Emeryville, spend the night in the Bay Area (it's not hard to find inexpensive lodging), and take the Starlight from there. That gets you the best scenery and the overall most pleasant ride.

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if you have the time / money. The Zephyr arrives at Sacramento at 2:15 PM. If you get a cheap hotel in Sacramento you can enjoy the Old Town area. If you like the history of trains at all, the California State Railroad Museum is right there and is a wonderful place to visit. Also the Delta King Steamboat is docked there and you can stay there if you like, or just visit for a meal and / or drinks.  Then the next morning catch the Starlight or San Joaquin to LA. (The San Joaquin to Bakersfield with the bus bridge to LA is super easy.  You just get off the train, get on the bus, and you go over the mountain into LA. I've done it a couple times.) 

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22 minutes ago, crescent-zephyr said:

if you have the time / money. The Zephyr arrives at Sacramento at 2:15 PM. If you get a cheap hotel in Sacramento you can enjoy the Old Town area. If you like the history of trains at all, the California State Railroad Museum is right there and is a wonderful place to visit. Also the Delta King Steamboat is docked there and you can stay there if you like, or just visit for a meal and / or drinks.  Then the next morning catch the Starlight or San Joaquin to LA. (The San Joaquin to Bakersfield with the bus bridge to LA is super easy.  You just get off the train, get on the bus, and you go over the mountain into LA. I've done it a couple times.) 

Agreed. Stay at the Vagabond Inn or Delta King, tour Old Town and the rail museum, and arrive L.A. the next day. When you count the time you'll need to spend in a hotel in L.A. to recover after a 1 am arrival...presuming it's on time!...you aren't going to lose much quality time in Southern California at all.

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There's a 2:50pm departure out of Sacramento - bus to Stockton, train to Bakersfield, bus to LA - that gets you into LA at 11:15 pm. That connection would work if the Zephyr is on time. Not a safe assumption, though.

If you're thinking about overnighting in NorCal, I agree that Sacramento is the value option. Inexpensive hotel rooms are very difficult to find in the Bay Area, and impossible to find in a good neighborhood.

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Connecting in Davis instead of Sacramento between CZ and next morning’s CS is another option with moderate priced lodging and a college town atmosphere with lots of shopping opportunities near the Amtrak station.

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Here’s another possible itinerary...CZ from Denver to either Sacramento or Davis, overnight there. Next day, Coast Starlight to San Luis Obispo, overnight there, then The Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles. If you’ve got the time maybe two nights in SLO , with a day trip over to the coast at Moro Bay. Nice! 

Book it Dan O

Edited by Ronbo

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Southwest will get you there within your timetable, otherwise, catch what's available on Amtrak and do whatever is necessary to make your trip enjoyable.

Edited by anumberone
Enlarge font.

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19 hours ago, Ronbo said:

Here’s another possible itinerary...CZ from Denver to either Sacramento or Davis, overnight there. Next day, Coast Starlight to San Luis Obispo, overnight there, then The Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles. If you’ve got the time maybe two nights in SLO , with a day trip over to the coast at Moro Bay. Nice! 

Book it Dan O

But that requires two overnights and the OP didn't seem to be particularly happy about even doing one...

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Absolutely take the CS. It's a beautiful oceanside view between LA and the Bay Area. 



Not quite. You are oceanside only between Ventura and Pismo Beach. But that is still a delightful couple of hours.

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Thanks to all. I am thinking I may still go with that 1 AM arrival and stay with someone I know in Pasadena, catching the Metro Goldline to their place as long as the bus is somewhat on time. 

The goal is to take the CZ westbound from Denver through the Sierras without taking much time off of work. If I take the SWC Wednesday PM (from Riverside or San Bernardino) I can transfer at Raton to a bus (lovely) and get to Denver late on Thursday night. Catch the CZ the next morning west and be to LA by 1 AM Sunday. I get Fridays off every other week so would only have to take one day off of work to do this. IF I can stay in Pasadena, I could go downtown Sunday AM and take the Metrolink to San Bernardino. 

It would be about 70 hours on the train with a short night in Denver. I'd prefer being in Denver a couple of days and taking the CS home but I am going on some other longer trips next year (car) so would like to save my vacation time.

Thanks again. 

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