California Zephyr Railcar Charters



What better way to celebrate Spring than on board a train?  We will be taking two of our former California Zephy ‘Silver Fleet’, Silver Rapids, and Silver Solarium from Los Angeles to Chicago via Seattle and Minneapolis, then a fast trip back to Los Angeles on the Southwest Chief.

The Short Version:

     June 21 we depart Los Angeles on a trip that will visit Seattle, the Windy City and the Bay Area using our cars Silver Rapids and Silver Solarium.  Routing will be via the Coast Starlight, Amtrak's Empire Builder, Amtrak's California Zephyr from Chicago to Emeryville and return, then finally the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles.  

     We will provide our famous service, with meals served on our monogram china, on table linens from the original California Zephyr.  Full bar service featuring premium labels of beer, wine, and spirits is of course included.

     Sleeping accommodations include Roomettes, Double Bedrooms, a Drawing Room, and a Stateroom.            

     Total capacity will be 24 guests.

     Day riders will be welcome on the following segments on a space available basis:

          Los Angeles to Oakland

          Emeryville and Reno

          Salt Lake City and Denver

  

The Longer Version:

The Route:

     Our cars will be coupled on the rear of Amtrak's Coast Starlight, departing Los Angeles on June 21.  Arrival Seattle will be the evening of June 22.  The cars will lay over in Seattle June 23 while the staff restocks for the next segment.

          June 24 our cars depart for Chicago on the rear of Amtrak train 8, the Empire Builder.  Arrival Chicago scheduled for 4:55 PM June 26.  Guests detrain to hotel upon arrival CHI.

          June 28-30:  Our cars travel CHI-EMY on train #5, the California Zephyr.  Departure Chicago 2:00 PM.  Arrival Emeryville:  4:10 PM.  Cars layover in Oakland yard July 1.

          July 2-4:  We return to CHI on train 6.  Departure EMY 9:10 AM;  Arrival CHI:  2:50 PM.  All guests detrain upon arrival CHI.  Enjoy the spectacle of a 4th of July celebration in the Windy City!

          July 6-8:  We depart CHI on train 3, bound for Los Angeles.  Departure CHI 3:00 PM;  Arrival Los Angeles, 8:15 AM.  All guests depart.

Scenic Highlights:

          Our routing is designed to provide the best of the scenery these routes have to offer.  On day one, we will travel along California's central coast in the early afternoon, and the nation's salad bowl around happy hour.  On day 2, guests will awaken to spectacular vistas of Mount Shasta, then climb through the Oregon Cascades after breakfast.  After lunch, the train will travel through the Willamette Valley, with its vineyards and hop fields before arriving Portland.  Late afternoon and evening will see the train following the Columbia River as far as Longview.  If PTC work is not complete on the bypass the train will travel along Puget Sound on its way to Tacoma.  

On day 4 we travel along Puget Sound to Everett before turning inland and crossing the Cascades again over Stevens Pass.  Given the time of year, our crossing will be in daylight fading to dusk.  Day 5 sees us traveling along Whitefish Lake with a 7:21 AM arrival in the town of Whitefish. Continuing east the railroad forms the southern border of Glacier National Park.  East of the Park we begin our journey across the Montana prairie.  Don't miss our entry into Cut Bank, over the famous Cut Bank Bridge!  Day 6 has an early AM arrival in St. Paul, where you can stretch your legs at the recently renovated St. Paul Union Depot.  From St. Paul we follow the Mississippi River nearly all the way to Milwaukee.  From there it's a quick trip into Chicago.

Day 8-10:  California Zephyr.  Shortly after departing CHI and its suburbs, we find ourselves in fields of growing corn as we make our way toward the Mississippi River, which we cross at Burlington, IA.  We speed west through the dusk and evening hours, arriving Omaha around 11PM.  Through the night we cross Nebraska, and awake to the sudden appearance of the Front Range looming ahead of us.  The service stop in Denver affords the chance to step out and enjoy the crisp Rocky Mountain air.  For the next two hours we will climb the front range and cross the Continental Divide inside the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel.  Then for the next 200 miles we follow the Colorado River through 5 canyons, the most spectacular of which is Glenwood Canyon.  A night service stop at Salt Lake City and a last chance to step out for a few minutes, before we're again on our way for our trek across the Nevada desert.  Reno is reached at breakfast time and for the next 5 hours we will climb, then descend, the Sierra Nevada.  When we arrive Sacramento, we will have descended nearly 7,000 vertical feet from Donner Summit.  The leg ends at Emeryville, a scant two hours from Sacramento.

Day 12-14:  We retrace our steps back to Chicago.  Our late afternoon descent into Denver gives us the opportunity to watch the city lights come on.  It's a bit like a slow-moving aircraft approaching the airport.  Vistas from the mountains can stretch 100 miles or more on clear days.  Dawn finds us in Omaha, and the last morning and afternoon on the Zephyr is spent crossing the rich farmlands in Iowa and Illinois.  Arrival Chicago 2:50 PM.

On day 16 our cars depart Chicago on the Southwest Chief.  We cross the mighty Mississippi River at Fort Madison Iowa in late afternoon.  Shortly after departing Fort Madison we enter Missouri,with its hardwood forests and farm fields, as we make our way to Kansas City, arriving there late evening.  Morning of day 8 finds us in eastern Colorado.  We travel across high prairie on our way to Trinidad, eastern side of steep and winding Raton Pass.  Later, we traverse the lovely Glorieta Pass before descending into Lamy, then on to Albuquerque.  Red mesas, made even more so with the late afternoon sun, are the pictures out the windows as we speed westward.  On our last morning, we have crossed the Mojave desert and descended Cajon Pass as we enter the Los Angeles basin.  Arrival in LA is 8:15 AM.

Our Meal Service:

     We will have chefs on board who prepare meals from scratch, using fresh, frequently locally-sourced ingredients.  We can accommodate most dietary needs, provided we are informed of them in advance of the day of departure.  On longer trips we vary the entrees, and may include various fish, shellfish, pork and lamb as well as beef and chicken.  All meals will be served in the dome of Silver Solarium.

Our Bar Service:

     Our complimentary bar service features premium labels of beer, wine, champagne, and spirits.  We can usually accommodate special requests.

Our Overnight Accommodations:

     Our Silver Fleet features traditional railroad room accommodations.  These include:

     Roomettes: 1 person. Murphy bed.  Day accommodation is a sofa-style chair.  An upholstered bench seat accommodates day visitors.  Roomettes have sinks with hot and cold running water.  Toilets are located a few feet down the aisle.

     Double Bedrooms:  1 or 2 persons.  These rooms feature an upper and a lower berth, and a restroom annex that includes toilet and sink.  Some double bedrooms also have European-style hand-held showers in the annex.

     Drawing Room: 1, 2, or3 persons.  This room features one upper and two lower berths, as well as a restroom annex that is considerably larger than the others.  In addition to toilet and sink it has a fixed-head shower.

     Stateroom:  2 persons.  The Stateroom features booth seating by day that makes down into a double bed.  It has a generous closet, and its restroom annex features a fixed-head or hand-held shower.

     Bedroom On Suite: Several of our double bedrooms feature a folding wall that when open makes into a spacious room that can accommodate up to 4 guests.


Our Amenities:

     Shower/changing room in the roomette end of Silver Rapids.  All guests, including those whose room annexess have a shower, are welcome to use it at any time.

     Bathrobes, of white cotton terry are provided to all of our guests.

     Individual bar soap, shampoo and conditioner will be found in each annex or medicine cabinet.

     White cotton terry washcloths and bath towels will be found in each room.  Hand towels are of Huck material.  This is the same material that was used by Pullman.  We starch our Huck towels.

     White cotton percale sheets and pillowslips are starched and pressed providing that crisp look found nowhere else among private railcars.  All of our beds are made with triple sheets.

     Each bed has two blankets and two pillows for guest comfort.

Itinerary:

     June 21:  We depart Los Angeles Union Station on Amtrak train #14, 10:10 AM;  Arrive Oakland Jack London Square 9:24 PM.  For those guests continuing with us, our train will depart Oakland at 9:39 PM.  Servicing stop at Sacramento and last chance to stretch legs tonight.  Meals today:  Breakfast, Lunch, hors d’Oeuvres, Dinner.

     June 22:  Breakfast time finds us approaching Klamath Falls, Oregon, with great views of Mount Shasta out the rear windows.  KFS is a crew-change and fresh air stop.  Departing Klamath Falls, the train follows the shore of Upper Klamath Lake, then begins its climb to Cascade Summit through the deep emerald forests of Oregon.  Descending the north slope, we pass through Oakridge, and shortly thereafter pass one of the only covered bridges in Oregon.  Arrival in Eugene is at 12:36.  Feel free to step down and stretch legs prior to our fast ride through the verdant Willamette Valley on our way to Portland.  In Portland our train will take on fuel, and there is ample time to enter the station, which was built before the turn of the last century.  Departing Portland, around 4PM, we will again cross the Willamette River, then a slough off the Columbia, then the Columbia River itself all in the space of a few minutes before our stop in Vancouver, WA.  Our ride from Vancouver to Seattle is swift, with brief stops at several picturesque towns.  In Seattle our cars will be separated from the train and parked for the night.  Meals today:  Breakfast, Lunch, hors d'Oeuvres, Dinner.

     June 24:     You will have all morning and much of the afternoon to explore Seattle.  Our train will depart at 4:40 PM.  Once we exit the downtown tunnel we will travel along Elliott Bay and Puget Sound to Everett.  There we head inland to meet and cross the Cascades.  Late afternoon adds drama to the craggy peaks as we climb over Stevens Pass.  The summit is inside the 7.75 mile long Cascade Tunnel.  On the east side, we'll briefly stop at Leavenworth's Icicle Station, then proceed to Wenatchee, where crews change.  Spokane is reached at 12:40 AM.  Guests who haven't retired for the night are welcome to step off here while the two sections of the train are joined.  Meals today:  Breakfast, Hors d'Oeuvres and dinner.

     June 25:  Whitefish arrival at 7:21 AM.  This is a crew change and fresh air stop.  Be sure to visit the chalet-style station, and the little park to the east of the building.  Departing Whitefish we will begin our climb over Marias Pass, the lowest rail crossing of the Rockies in the US.  The railroad forms the southern border of Glacier National Park, and offers vistas of some of the Alpine scenery there.  We make a brief stop at Essex, MT., home of the one-time GN crew hotel and now popular tourist destination the Isaac Walton Inn.  Note several older locomotives parked nearby.  These are now guest rooms!  Continuing east, across the park from the East Glacier station is the iconic Glacier Park Lodge.   Continuing east, we enter the Montana prairie.  Cut Bank is entered via the famous Cut Bank Bridge.  Miles of snow fences testify to the cold and howling winds winter brings to this part of the State.  Havre Montana is a service stop and a place to stretch legs.  We enter oil country around Glasgow, MT and Williston, ND.  This area is home to the Bakken crude oil, which gained notoriety in several spectacular fiery derailments.  Note on the passing oil trains that there is a buffer car between the locomotives and the tank cars.  Minot, ND is a service stop, and is reached at 9:27 PM.  Meals:  Breakfast, Luncheon, hors d'Oeuvres and Dinner.

     June 26:  We arrive St. Paul, at its recently restored Union Depot, at 7:43 AM.  Feel free to step off.  For much of the next 300 miles we will be in close proximity to the mighty Mississippi River.  We make an early afternoon stop in Milwaukee, then it's a quick trip to Chicago, arriving 4:55 PM.  In Chicago, all guests will detrain.

       June 27:   Our cars lay over for service and restocking in Chicago today.

       June 28:   We depart CHI on train 5, the California Zephyr, at 2:00 PM.  Fresh air stop at Ottumwa, where we change engineers.  Another fresh air stop in Omaha before we begin our fast trek across Nebraska.  Meals:  Hors d'Oeuvres, Dinner.

      June 29:     Arrive Denver 7:15 AM.  Step off and enjoy the renovated Union Station and lower downtown ("LODO").  All aboard by 8:05 for our climb up the Front Range and our day following the Colorado River.  Fresh air stops at Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, and Salt Lake City.  Meals:  Breakfast buffet, Lunch, hors d'Oeuvres, Dinner.

     June 30:     Arrive Reno about 8:00 AM.  This is a fresh air stop, although the train is in the "Trench", so the scenery isn't world-class.  Departing Reno we begin our climb of the Sierra.  After a fresh air stop in Sacramento, we begin a swift ride to Emeryville.  Arrival Emeryville 4:10 PM.. Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, hors d'Oeuvres.

     July 2:     Depart Emeryville 9:10 AM.  Fresh air stops in Sacramento and Reno.  Meals today: Breakfast, Lunch, hors d'Oeuvres, and Dinner.  Through the night we travel across the Nevada desert and make a service stop in Salt Lake City.

     July 3:     Morning finds us descending the Price River Canyon toward Helper, then past the Book Cliffs as we make our way to Grand Junction and another fresh air stop.  Step out again at Glenwood Spriings, then enjoy the climb of the Rockies and dramatic descent into Denver.  Arrival Denver 6:57 PM.  Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, hors d'Oeuvres, Dinner.

     July 4:     Omaha is reached at dawn.  This is a servicing stop, and those who are awake are welcome to step out.  The morning light highlights the growing fields of corn and the gently rolling countryside.  Another fresh air stop at Ottumwa, then our journey continues to Chicago, with arrival at 2:50 PM.  All guests depart.  Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch.

      July 6:  The morning is yours to enjoy the sights sounds and aromas of Chicago.  Our train departs Chicago at 2:00 PM.  Guests who show their boarding passes are welcome to wait for the train in Chicago's Metropolitan Lounge.  We take the famous Burlington route to Galesburg, where we diverge for Fort Madison Iowa and our crossing of the Mississippi.  Shortly after departing Fort Madison we enter Missouri, where we speed through hardwood forests and farmland at up to 90 mph, before arriving Kansas City at 10:11 PM.  Feel free to step off and explore the restored Union Station during our 35 minute stop.  Meals:   Hors d'Oeuvres and Dinner.

       July 7:  Morning finds us in eastern Colorado, approaching La Junta.  Feel free to step off for some fresh morning air.  Leaving La Junta we speed across the Colorado high plains to Trinidad, and our ascent of Raton Pass.  Out the window one can see the old wagon road, and a sign or two placed by the Santa Fe Railway that mark spots of historical interest.  The summit of the pass is inside the tunnel.  Descending the west slope we arrive Raton, NM.  Nearby is a large Boy Scout ranch, so expect a lot of activity as a new group of scouts detrains, and other scouts board for their trip home.  At the station in Las Vegas is the Casteneda hotel, a former Fred Harvey property now being restored by Alan Affeldt, who also brought La Posada in Winslow back to life.  Departing Las Vegas, we shortly begin our climb of Glorieta Pass, every bit as twisty and steep as Raton Pass.  Descending the pass, we stop at Lamy, former helper station and rail gateway to Santa Fe.  Albuquerque is reached at 3:55 PM.  Step off and check out the Native American vendors.  We will be here for 50 minutes.  Late afternoon sees us in western New Mexico and the red mesa country, made all the more so by the setting sun.  The Winslow stop is at La Posada, the last of the Fred Harvey hotels.  Flagstaff is nestled in the Ponderosa pines and stepping on the vestibule one can take in that quintessential aroma.  Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, hors d'Oeuvres, Dinner.

       July 8:  Early morning we will be climbing from Barstow, following the Mojave River to Victorville with its Lower and Upper Narrows before reaching Cajon Summit.  From there it is a steep and winding descent to San Bernardino and the Los Angeles Basin.  Arrival at Los Angeles Union Station is 8:15 AM.  Meal today:  Breakfast.

       

Pricing:

     

     Los Angeles to Seattle, June 21-22:

          Roomette:                  $1,395/person

          Double Bedroom          $1,395/person double occupancy (PPDO)

          Drawing Room          $1,745 PPDO/ $1,395/person triple occupancy  SOLD

          Stateroom                  $1,745 PPDO

          Single occupying a double bedroom, or two occupying a bedroom on suite:  $2,095/person

                Pricing does not include hotel accommodations.


       Seattle to Chicago June 24-26:

          Roomette:                  $2,169/person

          Double Bedroom          $2,169/person double occupancy (PPDO)

          Drawing Room          $2,715 PPDO/ $2,169/person triple ,occupancy  SOLD

          Stateroom                  $2,715 PPDO

          Single occupying a double bedroom, or two occupying a bedroom on suite:  $3,255/person

                Pricing does not include hotel accommodations.

      Chicago to Emeryville June 28-30 or Emeryville to Chicago, July 2-4 (specify in your email):

          Roomette:                  $2,175/person

          Double Bedroom          $2,175/person double occupancy (PPDO)

          Drawing Room          $2,715 PPDO/ $2,175/person triple ,occupancy Westbound sold

          Stateroom                  $2,715 PPDO

          Single occupying a double bedroom, or two occupying a bedroom on suite:  $3,259/person

                Pricing does not include hotel accommodations.

       Chicago to Los Angeles,  July 6-8:          

                Roomette:                  $1,997/person

          Double Bedroom          $1,997/person double occupancy (PPDO)

          Drawing Room          $2,497 PPDO/ $1,997/person triple occupancy  SOLD

          Stateroom                  $2,497 PPDO

          Single occupying a double bedroom, or two occupying a bedroom on suite:  $2,997/person

                 Pricing does not include hotel accommodations.

    Day Rides (limited availability):

          Los Angeles to Oakland:         $299/person

          Emeryville to Reno:         $199/person

          Salt Lake City to Denver:    $399/person            


    




We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express.  A 3% convenience fee will be added to the total for those paying by credit card.


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Ride a Train!

June 21-July 8, 2018