mlsdrum/ShutterstockThe 3,400-mile train ride aboard the California Zephyr begins in Emeryville, California, and ends in Chicago, Illinois, taking a total of three days. The final travel day requires a train switch aboard the Lake Shore Limited, which ultimately transfers you to New York, NY. Travelers can expect spacious legroom, reclining chairs, and sleeper cabins (available at a higher cost).
As the cross-country train ride begins, travelers are first welcomed aboard by beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay Area. A Sightseer Lounge car is also available, where passengers are surrounded by windows for an almost panoramic view of everything around them. Passengers can expect local museum experts to also join them aboard the train to further explain the history of the lands around them.
As with any cross-country trip, there will be some changes in climate along the way. Snow will cover the sides of mountains in the Sierra Nevada, and after a mere few hours, passengers will find themselves in a hot, barren desert. “If you fall asleep and wake up, it’s almost like you were transported to a different planet,” says Low. (Bring your cameras, because it is likely there will be little to no phone service). And of course, how could anyone live life to its fullest without seeing the sunset in a desert? (Don’t miss these other breathtaking train rides in America.)
And, if you need more convincing, the journey between Utah and Colorado is regarded to be the most spectacular train ride in all of the United States,” says Low. The train then pulls into the Mile High City’s Union Station in Denver, Colorado. (Denver’s famous Oversized Silver Dog monument is only a 13-minute drive from Union Station!)
After stopping in Denver, the train ride continues through Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and ends at Chicago’s Union Station. It is here that in order to reach New York, a transfer to the Lake Shore Limited train line is required. With that, the twenty-hour train trip to the city that never sleeps begins, making its way through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally Penn Station, where the famous Hudson River and breathtaking city skyline will quite literally welcome you to New York.
Travelers: Pack your cameras. You’re about to create some incredible memories.