Amtrak California Zephyr title card
Amtrak California Zephyr title card

The Amtrak California Zephyr schedule and more

The Amtrak California Zephyr is a daily train service between Chicago, IL, and Emeryville, CA, with stopovers in Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City. The train travels 2438 miles and takes around 52 hours to complete. The Zephyr is one of the most scenic routes operated by Amtrak, offering spectacular views of the Midwest’s farm fields, the Rockies, and the Sierras. Riding on this train is an excellent opportunity to relax and enjoy the journey.

The Zephyr is one of Amtrak’s most scenic routes, and a ride on this train allows you to relax and enjoy the journey. Let it take you through the farm fields of the Midwest, travel through the Rockies, see the Sierras, and more await you!

Amtrak’s California Zephyr map and stops

CA Zephyr Map
CA Zephyr Map

Travels with Kev Podcast on the Amtrak Californa Zephyr

What can you see while aboard the Californa Zephyr?

I suggest taking this one if you only have time for one Amtrak train.

Moab, Utah from the window of the Amtrak California Zephyr.
A view of Moab, Utah, from Amtrak’s California Zephyr window

The scenery on the California Zephyr changes every day of your journey. You will pass through small Midwest towns with agriculture and small manufacturing and the lights of major cities like Chicago, Denver, and Omaha. The train follows the Colorado River for miles, passing through the Rockies and many tunnels. Along the route, you will see the High Sierras and beautiful sections of California.

If you time your trip right, you can experience the beauty described in the song “America the Beautiful”—spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountains, and more!

While the Rockies are breathtaking, I particularly enjoy traveling through the beauty of Utah. Check out a map to see the train’s day and night sections!

California Zephyr’s on-time performance & host railroads

The California Zephyr, a passenger train operated by Amtrak, travels across the United States using tracks owned by host railroads BNSF and Union Pacific (UP). However, Amtrak does own the tracks around Chicago Union Station.

From April 2023 to 2024, the California Zephyr’s passenger on-time performance average is 38.1%, with an average delay of 127 minutes. In April 2024, passengers got delayed 51% of the time, with an average delay of 130 minutes.

The primary causes of delays on BNSF’s 1027-mile stretch were freight train interference and slow order delays. On UP’s 1381-mile stretch, freight and passenger train interference were the primary causes of delays.

Information from Amtrak Host Railroad Report April 2024.

Coach class on the California Zephyr

Amtrak Superliner coach seats
Amtrak Superliner lower-level coach seating (Photo courtesy of Amtrak.com)

Taking a coach class on the California Zephyr could be a great option, whether you are traveling for an hour or end to end. 

On my first trip on this train, I chose coach class. The seats were comfortable and spacious, allowing me to lean back without invading my neighbor’s space.

The coach class seating on the Zephyr provides various features, such as reclining seats, ample legroom, fold-down trays, seat-back pockets, individual reading lights, 120v grounded (three-prong) electric outlets under the window, and foot and leg rests. Additionally, there is an above-seat luggage shelf, a baggage rack on the lower level, and restrooms.

You can choose to sit on either the upper or lower level of the coach class. The lower-level seats are ideal for those who have difficulty climbing stairs. 

Kev’s coach class tips

I suggest packing a small blanket, pillow, and an eye mask to block out the light. If you can get an eye mask with headphones, that can make your trip even more enjoyable. 

Moreover, I recommend you bring an extension cord and your chargers, as the outlets are on the wall, and an extension cord will allow you to use them without disturbing your seatmate. You can also bring headphones or other forms of entertainment to make your journey more enjoyable.

California Zephyr coach car layout.

Amtrak Superliner Coach Car Diagram
Superliner coach car diagram: Some cars do not have lower seating but have a space for baggage.

Sleeping accommodations on the California Zephyr

All rooms include:

Amtrak Superliner roomette seat
  • Fresh linens and towels
  • Traditional Dining
  • Lounge access in Chicago
  • Dedicated car attendant
  • Room lights, plus reading and night lights.
  • Closet or hook to hang things, and Amtrak provides hangers!
  • Seating by day and beds by night
  • Cup holders and a table with a checkered board
    • Bring your checkers or chess pieces.

Room types offered on the California Zephyr

  • Roomettes
    • 1-10 are on the upper, and 11-14 are on the lower level on standard sleeper cars.
    • The smallest of the accommodations
  • Bedrooms
    • Only on the upper level
    • It is twice the size of a roomette and has a bathroom/shower.
  • Family bedrooms
    • Lower level, and only on per sleeper car.
    • For two adults and two little ones
  • Accessible rooms
    • Lower level, and only one per sleeper car
    • For those with mobility issues

California Zephyer Sleeptin car layout

In most cases, this is the car you will have, but sometimes there is a transdorm car with all roomettes on the upper level. Typically, Amtrak runs the bedroom side forward in the direction of travel, but that can change anytime.

Superliner Sleeper
The layout of a Superliner Sleeper Car.

Luggage

When you travel on the California Zephyr, you can take advantage of Amtrak’s generous carry-on policy or, in some cases, check bags.

California Zephyr Carry-on

Each passenger may carry on:

  • One personal item, 25 lbs. (12 kg) and 14 x 11 x 7 inches, and 
  • Two carry-on pieces of luggage, 50 lbs. (23 kg) and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each
  • If you transfer to the Pacific Surfliner at some point along your journey, the baggage size for that train is up to 28 x 22 x 11 inches each. 

Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage; check out Amtrak’s carry-on bag policy for more information.

Checked bag rules

Not all locations can handle checked baggage; your first and last stations must offer this service.

  • Amtrak allows two bags up to 50 lbs. Seventy-five linear inches are per person for free.
  • Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage, up to four bags total.

Add-ons Bikes And Pets

This train allows a few paid add-ons to bring your ride or furry family.

Bringing your bike

  • There is space on the train for standard, full-size bicycles
    • Up to 50 lbs, 70 inches x 41 inches x 8.5 inches.
  • Amtrak stores bikes in designated bike racks/areas inside the baggage car.
  • For more information, please check out Amtrak’s bike policy.

Bring your pets with you.

  • Amtrak allows dogs and cats.
    • Up to 20 pounds combined weight of pet and carrier
    • For trips up to seven hours.
    • Complete paperwork before leaving for the station
      • Once you complete your reservation, you will receive the online form. You can also find it in the My Trip section on the Amtrak website or app.
    • Learn more about Amtrak’s pet policy.

Accessibility on the California Zephyr

A wheelchair ramp is available to assist passengers with a wheeled mobility device in boarding and detraining. There is accessible seating on the lower level of coach cars and rooms on this train.

Wi-Fi on the Zephyr

There is no Wi-Fi on this train, and there will be sections of the route where you will not have cell service.

Food Offerings On The California Zephyr

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee tastes better on the rails, especially from the Amtrak cafe car.

This train has two food cars; find your options for this train!

The Califonia Zephyr Cafe Car

  • The cafe is on the lower level of the Sightseer Lounge,
  • It sells a variety of meals, snacks, and beverages
  • Open for all customers from early morning until late at night.

To see a sample menu, check out the button below and look for the National Cafe car menu.

California Zephyr Dining Car

Sleeper passengers and limited coach passengers can enjoy themselves in the dining car!

AMTRAK PAN ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST
AMTRAK PAN ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST
  • The California Zephyr offers traditional dining.
    • Meals are chef-prepared meals with table service.
    • Meaks offered breakfast, lunch, and a three-course dinner with selections for kids.
    • Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.
    • Your first drink at dinner is on Amtrak!
  • In this car, you can purchase a wide array of wine, beer, and spirits to accompany your meal or for later in your room.

Sleeping passengers can have meals brought to their rooms if needed. The meals are complimentary for customers with sleeping accommodations or at set prices for coach passengers. Amtrak can limit seating for coach passengers.

The California Zephyr does not offer breakfast out of Emeryville, so plan on having your first meal be lunch. Out of Chicago, your first meal is dinner.

DIRECTIONCITY SECTIONSDAYS OF TRAVELMEALS OFFERED
#5 WestboundChicago, IL- Omaha, NE1dinner
Lincoln, NE – Salt Lake City, UT2breakfast, lunch, & dinner
Elko, NV – Emeryville, CA3breakfast & lunch
#6 EastboundEmeryville, CA – Elko, NV1lunch & dinner
Salt Lake City, UT – McCook, NE2breakfast, lunch, & dinner
Holdrege, NE – Chicago, IL3breakfast & lunch

Amtrak California Zephyr Schedule

If you want to print out the Amtrak California Zephyr Schedule, there is one below, or you can print an Amtrak Schedule or custom schedule yourself!

Train 5
Westbound
Communities Served
By the California Zephyr
From
Chi
Train 6
Eastbound
Read DownDaily TrainMilesLast Stop
2:00pChicago, IL
Union Station (CHI) (CT)
02:39p
2:34p RNaperville, IL (NPV)
BNSF Metra Line
281:44p R
3:44pPrinceton, IL (PCT)10412:28p
4:43pGalesburg, IL (GBB)*
S. Seminary St.
16211:38a
5:34pBurlington, IA (BRL)20510:28a
6:06pMt. Pleasant, IA (MTP)2339:55a
6:57pOttumwa, IA (OTM)2799:07a
8:23pOsceola, IA (OSC) (Des Moines)3597:38a
8:55pCreston, IA (CRN)3927:01a
11:09p | 11:25pOmaha, NE (OMA)5004:54a | 5:10a
12:36a | 12:46aLincoln, NE (LNK)555 3:27a
2:22aHastings, NE (HAS)
(Grand Island)
6521:36a
3:11aHoldrege, NE (HLD)70612:48a
4:22aMcCook, NE (MCK)78311:43p
5:46aFort Morgan, CO (FMG)
(Sterling)
9608:17p
7:56a | 8:46aDenver, CO
Union Station (DEN)*
10386:27p | 6:59p
10:53aFraser-Winter Park, CO (WIP)11003:28p
11:22aGranby, CO (GRA)
(Rocky Mt National Park)
11132:54p
2:36p | 2:43pGlenwood Springs, CO (GSC)
(Aspen)
122311:36a | 11:42a
4:30p | 4:43pGrand Junction, CO (GJT)13119:41a | 9:53a
6:32pGreen River, UT (GRI)14177:44a
7:53pHelper, UT (HER) (Price)14886:22a
10:02pProvo, UT (PRO)15634:18a
11:15p | 11:40pSalt Lake City, UT
Amtrak Station (SLC)* (MT)
16082:55a | 3:20a
3:25aElko, NV (ELK) (PT)18718:44p
6:01aWinnemucca, NV (WNN)20136:26p
9:13a | 9:24aReno, NV (RNO)22023:27p | 3:37p
10:33aTruckee, CA (TRU) (Lake Tahoe)22372:01p
12:50pColfax, CA (COX)230111:39a
2:14p DRoseville, CA (RSV)233610:51a
3:05pSacramento, CA
Sacramento Valley Station (SAC)
235310:12a | 10:23a
3:31pDavis, CA (DAV)23679:48a
4:13pMartinez, CA (MTZ)
(San Joaquins Trains)
24119:07a
4:47pRichmond, CA (RIC)24308:35a
4:57pEmeryville, CA (EMY)24388:25a
Last train stopTransefer between train and busMilesStart of train End of Bus
5:15pEmeryville, CA (EMY)*
San Fransico Bus Transfer
07:25a
5:45pSan Fransico, CA (SFC)
Chase Plaza Curbside Stop
26:55a
Last StopStationsMilesRead Up
‘Use this chart as a guide and check with Amtrak for any time corrections they may cause.

Abbreviations

Yellow = bus connection

R = Receive passengers only; this means you can board the train, but you cannot buy a ticket on this train to this station.

D = Depart only; you can buy a ticket to this station but not from this station.

* = Stations with Amtrak Connecting Services.

Printable California Zephyr Schedule

You can use the button below to print out the Califonia Zephyr schedule or get the latest from Amtrak.com. You can even print out customs schedules that include other transportation on your Amtrak ticket! Learn how to print route or customs Amtrak schedules here!

Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Valerie

    Hey Kev I love your stuff. Can you help me find out how I know which station is a stop that you can get off the train for a bit?

    1. Kev

      Here is a list of most stops where you can get off the train; sometimes there are more, and sometimes these stops get abridged.
      Galesburg, IL; Ottumwa, IA; Omaha, NE; Dever, CO; Frasier, CO; Glennwood Springs, CO; Grand Junction, CO; Salt Lake City, UT; Winnemucca, NV; Reno, NV; Sacramento. CA.

      1. Valerie

        Thanks Kev!

        1. Kev

          You are welcome!

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