A private railroad car journey can be as short as a day, or as long as your time and budget allow. Most trips begin in either St. Louis or Chicago with a couple of shorter day trip destinations from St. Louis being to Chicago or Kansas City. From Chicago the routes to Pontiac and Grand Rapids, MI, or Quincy, IL are all pleasant one day round trip excursions. Traveling from St. Louis, the Puget Sound can also connect, via Kansas City, with Amtrak’s Southwest Chief to Albuquerque and Los Angeles.
Starting a journey in Chicago provides the most options for private rail travel nation-wide. From the Windy City, trains originate to such destinations as Albany and Montreal, San Antonio, New Orleans, Washington, DC, Savannah, and Miami. Also beginning in Chicago are our most popular trains and itineraries: the California Zephyr to Denver and Emeryville (Oakland), CA, the Southwest Chief to Albuquerque and Los Angeles, and the Empire Builder to St. Paul, MN, Spokane and Seattle. From either Los Angeles or Seattle, we also have train ride across America like our popular Coast Starlight that extends the length of the west coast. New Orleans or San Antonio, both present the possibility of attaching to Amtrak’s Sunset Ltd train which travels the southern route through Texas between New Orleans and LA. Many of our clients’ travel plans include multiple routes and destinations. These loops trips are common:
-Chicago to Los Angeles to Seattle to Chicago
-Chicago to New Orleans to Los Angeles to Chicago
-Chicago to Washington, DC to New Orleans to Chicago or Los Angeles
Our most popular itinerary is the California Zephyr from Chicago to Emeryville (Oakland), CA an dis claimed to be one of the best train rides in USA. Departing Chicago in the afternoon, we soon cross the Mississippi into Iowa, travelling onward through the night to awaken the next morning with a view of the Rockies and arrival in Denver. It is possible to leave the Puget Sound parked in Denver to use as your hotel while visiting. The car would then be placed on the Zephyr again to continue the journey west, or return to Chicago. Our train ride across USA climb into the mountains going west from Denver offers a full day of dramatic scenery, from mountain peaks to canyons and rivers. Following the
Green River through Utah, the second day ends with a late night arrival into Salt Lake City. On the third day of the journey the train traverses Nevada, climbing out of Reno into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and over Donner Pass before gradually descending into the Bay area, concluding the journey in the late afternoon along the water with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Unfortunately, due to recent (2018) changes to Amtrak vacation packages, we can no longer access the Coast Starlight in Oakland, and so this route is currently only available as round trip or one way.
A circle trip from Chicago to Los Angeles to Seattle and return would offer wonderful viewing on every leg. The Southwest Chief highlights the mountains and dramatic scenery of New Mexico and Arizona, and the approach to LA. The Coast Starlight travels from LA up the coast along the Pacific Ocean to San Luis Obispo and into the rolling hills to traverse the length of San Francisco Bay, and onward the next day to dramatic views of Mt. Shasta and the Cascade mountains and then on to Portland and Seattle along our train ride vacations with Puget Sound. From Seattle, the Empire Builder’s return to Chicago starts in the afternoon along Puget Sound and soon enters the Cascades en route to a midnight arrival in Spokane. The next morning begins along Whitefish Lake and continues past the south end of Glacier National Park with dramatic scenery throughout the day before passing out of the mountains into the Great Plains. The third day on the way eastward begins with arrival in St. Paul, MN. The better part of the day is spent with beautiful views along the Mississippi before transiting Wisconsin and approaching Chicago in the late afternoon.
Going east from Chicago also presents some fine scenery and the distances are shorter than travel in the west. Washington DC, New Orleans, Savannah and Miami are all accessible to private rail cars and allow occupied parking at those facilities. Washington DC is accessible by both the daily Capitol Ltd and the more scenic 3 day a week Cardinal, and so an alternate round private train trip is possible. Another popular route is from Chicago to DC to New Orleans and return. It is also possible to continue on to Los Angeles from here. Montreal is another excellent eastern destination with dramatic viewing along Lake Champlain.
The list of destinations available via Amtrak and private railroad car is always changing. We would be glad to put you on our email list and keep you
informed of any updates as well as letting you know about discounted positioning moves.