California Zephyr advice

Discussion in 'Guest Forum for Amtrak Questions' started by Jose, Dec 23, 2018.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Dec 23, 2018 #1

    Jose

    J

    Jose

    Guest

    I'm planning a trip across the US for next May. So far, I've booked my flights from my city (Barcelona, Sp) to Chicago and back from San Francisco. My idea is to stay for a few days in Chicago (even visit Milwouke maybe) and take the California Zephir, making some stops on my way.
    The only one I'm certain is Denver, and I'd also like to spend some days in Salt Lake City but I've been reading that the amtrak station is not in a really safe area, considering the time the train arrives, I'm not sure about that... 
    I've got around two weeks, so I'd like to make two or three more stops, Omaha before Denver, for example and Reno after SLC.  

    Any suggestions about where is better to stop? I don't mind if they are big cities or small towns.... Just looking for cool and safre places.

    Thank you all in advance!

     
     
  2. Dec 23, 2018 #2

    the_traveler

    the_traveler

    the_traveler

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Messages:
    25,544
    Location:
    Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
    I’ve not been to Omaha so I can not comment on that. Although SLC is very late, there are taxis and many hotels will pick you up from the station. Also, the airport (with many more hotels) is within 5 miles of the train station. The Reno station is right downtown.

    Enjoy your holiday!
     
  3. Dec 23, 2018 #3

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    18,092
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    Since you didn't provide us with your reason(s) for picking out your mentioned Cities, I don't know why you picked out Omaha,Denver, SLC and Reno.?

    IMO there's not a whole lot to see or do in Omaha, and Salt Lake is great if you're a Mormon, but might be worth a one day stopover.

    Denver is OK ( Spring and Fall are the best times to visit there)but Id suggest considering a couple of days   in Glenwoood Springs instead of Denver. Wonderful close  by Mountain Village, lots of Denverites use it as a weekend  get-a- way spot!

    Unless you're a hard core,Low Budget Gambler, Reno is a sad,dying town  that is not especially scenic and lacking in things to see or do except to Gamble.( Lake Tahoe is a much better option in most folks opinion.)

    I'd also consider doing a stopover in the Sacramento area to see the Capitol, the Great California Rail Museum, and even Old Sacramento on the River. Staying in the great little College town of Davis, which is a short commute via frequent Capitol Corrodor Rail, is a good idea if this appeals to you. 

    You're planning on staying in the Bay Area which is a must see, but consider visiting close by  Yosemite also which is a wonderful place to visit! 

    Nice trip,you'll love the Denver to Bay Area Train scenery on the Zephyr which is some of our best!
     
  4. Dec 23, 2018 #4

    AutoTrDvr

    A

    AutoTrDvr

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    618
    I'm thinking of doing a similar trip.  The draw of train travel for me is seeing the scenery along the way.  Otherwise, I may as well fly to each city and save time (and, potentially), expense if I fly cheaply enough.  Therefore, any train route would have to be optimal in re: the scenery I would see during the day time.

    I'm going to take the CZ as well, but I'll probably stop off in Utah, somewhere (either Provo or SLC).  I'll probably spend a couple of days there, and then either drive or bus to Las Vegas, where I'd spend another day or two, before flying to LAX to to take the Coast Starlight up to Portland or Seattle, then the EB back to CHi and then to fly home. 

    The only thing major I might miss would be the Sierras (most of the travel through NV is at night, except for Reno).  Thus, an alternative to the Utah Stop off would be to go Sacramento and then fly down to LAX from there to catch the Coast Starlight and continue on.  Not sure which one I'll do, yet, but...
     
  5. Dec 23, 2018 #5

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,992
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I agree with Bob. Glenwood Springs, and Truckee/Lake Tahoe. I personally would stop in Reno, but that's because I have family in the area. If you're a gambler it's OK (and the best casinos are right downtown near the Amtrak station), but otherwise the only event in Reno I would really recommend are the air races held in September.
     
  6. Dec 24, 2018 #6

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,509
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Agree 100% on all these points. I don’t see any reason why one would plan a stopover in Omaha, unless they have friends/family there and/or want to be in close proximity to Warren Buffett.  :p

    And IMHO, Reno really is basically just a low rent Las Vegas, which doesn’t have anything of note to offer anyone who won’t be gambling their time away. Just get off the CZ in Truckee (one stop west of Reno) and spend a day wakeboarding or tubing out on Lake Tahoe.

    But yeah, can you (the OP) give us a bit more info on why and how you made your decisions on where to stop?
     
  7. Dec 24, 2018 #7

    Jose

    J

    Jose

    Guest

    Thank you all for your answers!

    Actually, I’m not really sure where to stop. I was thinking about Omaha and Reno because they are more or less halfway to Denver and Sacramento and are not small villages but I have not decided yet.

    Maybe Truckee –Lake Tahoe- is a better option than Reno. also I'm considering a stop somewhere around the rocky mountains.

    Actually I’ve been thinking in visiting Milwaukee and Madision just after Chicago and flying from there to Denver and skip the “boring” part of the CZ.

    I’m into music, punk and rock and roll mostly, Vegan/vegetarian food, urban culture in general and also wild animal sighting, so any advice regarthing that would be really appreciatted.
     
  8. Dec 24, 2018 #8

    Saddleshoes

    S

    Saddleshoes

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    Messages:
    22
    My favorite stop on this whole line is Glenwood Springs.  (I must reveal that I grew up in Colorado, so maybe I am bias.)

    There is a fantastic bus service in that area that can get you up to Aspen for a day of "Mountain hobnobbing" with the rich and famous.  (Be sure to have lunch in the Red Onion!)  An afternoon in the hot springs fed pool is a must.  You can sign up for a mountain bike ride or a white water raft ride down through the Glenwood Canyon.   There is a ton of great eating, including vegan, in this small town too.  If you should care to rent a car the best of the Colorado high country is with in an hour or 2 drive as well as famous Colorado history locations like Leadville.   For wild animal sighting the area is great!  When I was there last summer I saw mountain sheep on a bike ride.   The bike path I was on had a detour, at one point, to avoid a mountain lion and her cub which had moved into a den beside the trail.

    Have a great trip.
     
  9. Dec 24, 2018 #9

    the_traveler

    the_traveler

    the_traveler

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Messages:
    25,544
    Location:
    Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
    Remember that this route has only 1 train per day - unlike many in Europe. So if the train arrives at 03:00, the next train is the following day at 03:00.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 24, 2018
  10. Dec 24, 2018 #10

    F900ElCapitan

    F

    F900ElCapitan

    Service Attendant AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2018
    Messages:
    186
    Location:
    Frisco, TX
    I second all of this. The Hotel Denver is across the street from the train station and Hotel Colorado is across the river next to the hot springs. Both offer some unique rooms and history and are quite nice places to stay. The Pullman and Juicy Lucy’s are both very good and very close to the Hotel Denver. There is also very good hiking, biking, river rafting, fishing, and other activities in the area. 
     
  11. Dec 24, 2018 #11

    caravanman

    caravanman

    caravanman

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,569
    Location:
    Nottingham, England.
    You probably know, but you can't just get off one long distance Amtrak train and jump on the next one along without reservations for each train.

    I agree that the bit between Chicago and Denver is pretty boring, but the rest of the trip is outstanding!

    I quite like "seedy" Reno, it is a bit sad, but has a run down appeal of it's own.

    Americans sometimes can't quite understand that some visitors may want to see the rust belt, the poor and gritty areas as well as the well kept parts.

    Chicago is one of my favourite cities, be sure to spend some days there.

    Ed.
     
  12. Dec 24, 2018 #12

    oregon pioneer

    oregon pioneer

    oregon pioneer

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2,094
    Location:
    near Seneca, Oregon
    I would add a few things to the above (which I mostly agree with). While in the Denver area, you may prefer staying in the town of Boulder to staying in Denver itself. It is a "green" university town, so lots of parks, bike trails, wildlife close-to-town, young people and plenty of healthy food available. Check out the reports on tripadvisor.com, and maybe someone else with more intimate knowledge of the area will chime in.

    I'd disagree with the idea that there isn't much to do in Salt lake City (SLC) unless you are Mormon. First, Mormon history is very interesting -- they came from all over Europe to join the migration and it's not your typical American history. Second, the mountains around Salt Lake are a mecca for outdoors adventure lovers. SLC has a very good public transit system, and you can take bus and light rail to many recreation areas. The food is pretty decent too, as long as you stick with the most urban (especially close to the University) or tourist destinations. Be sure and read the reviews before you go to the restaurants, and you'll find what you need.
     
  13. Dec 25, 2018 #13

    BCL

    BCL

    BCL

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,787
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Did you map out what you plan to do and transportation in/around San Francisco?  While the locals don't particularly like the reliability of public transportation, it's actually pretty good there.  San Francisco International Airport is well south of the actual city,, and is legally in another county.  The BART system now has a direct connection to the airport, and once you get to San Francisco the city's public transportation can get you pretty much anywhere you want in the city.

    The other thing (which you might have already researched) is that the California Zephyr physically starts in Emeryville, but there are designated Amtrak connecting buses from San Francisco.  Some guests prefer to stay overnight in Emeryville.  You can force a different bus using what Amtrak calls "multi-city booking" rather than the #5006 bus that specifically connects with California Zephyr train #6.  There are also 4 different bus stops in San Francisco, although the SFC (Temporary Transbay Terminal) is the only one that handles check-in baggage.  If you want to take an Amtrak bus in California, it has to be booked along with a train ride of some sort, although it might not need to be related.  You might have other options to get from San Francisco to Emeryville, including Uber/Lyft, taxis, public transit buses, BART (and Emery Go Round).

    Also - I don't mind Reno, but it's not really all that spectacular.  They do have ample lodging and the food isn't bad.
     
  14. Dec 25, 2018 #14

    BCL

    BCL

    BCL

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,787
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Also, have you looked into possibly purchasing a USA Rail Pass?  The only issue is that the cost includes a maximum number of "segments" where a bus trip counts as one segment, and there's a limit on how many days you can use it from the first day.  There are also limits on the number of tickets that can be reserved for each particular train.

    https://www.amtrak.com/take-the-trains-across-america-with-usa-rail-pass

    I also read it wrong - I thought you might be going from San Francisco to Chicago.  In that case you're probably better off just taking the bus directly to San Francisco.  Also - look into public transportation while you're there.  BART goes directly to the SFO International Terminal.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2018
  15. Dec 26, 2018 #15

    tomfuller

    tomfuller

    tomfuller

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Crescent Oregon (17 miles from Chemult)
    To save a little money on a trip on the Zephyr, my wife and i switched from coach to a roomette in Omaha about 11 PM. We had the Roomette until Glenwood Springs.

    I agree Glenwood Springs would be better unless you want a huge city (Denver).  There is good bus service up from Glenwood Springs to Aspen if you wanted to see that.

    I don't like arriving in a city after 10PM and then heading for a hotel room (Omaha)
     

Share This Page

arrow_white