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California Zephyr with Yosemite National Park - Chicago to San Francisco

Brideveil Falls Millennium Park Amtrak's California Zephyr Sierra Nevada Mountains Golden Gate Bridge Half Dome

Explore both big city culture and grand natural wonders with this trip that takes you from Chicago to San Francisco, traversing through the Rockies and Sierra Mountains, topping off with a visit to beautiful Yosemite National Park.

8 days    $1,945
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About the Tour

The only thing more appealing than a train vacation through the Rocky and Sierra Mountains is one that includes a visit to the waterfalls and Giant Sequoia groves of Yosemite National Park. Your great western rail adventure begins in Chicago with a two-night stay in this Midwest metropolis, providing ample time to explore the highlights such as the Bean in Millennium Park, a Ferris wheel ride at Navy Pier, or a stop to do some shopping in one of the several fabulous stores lining the Magnificent Mile.

After you're done discovering “The Windy City”, continue on your train vacation as you board Amtrak's legendary California Zephyr for a two-night rail journey across the plains of the Midwest into the snow-capped Rocky and Sierra mountain ranges to San Francisco. During your two-night stay in the City by the Bay, spend the first part visiting famed highlights such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermans Wharf, or a take a ride on one of the city's classic cable cars.

Conclude your stay in San Francisco with a visit to the famous Yosemite National Park. Known for its dazzling waterfalls and vibrant evergreen forests, discovering the wonders of this National Park is the absolute ideal way to complete this unique rail adventure.
This vacation is also available from San Francisco to Chicago based on your travel preference.


  • Rail travel on Amtrak (2 nights on train)
  • Hotel accommodations for 5 nights
  • Meals on the train included when upgrading to private sleeping accommodations
  • Yosemite National Park Tour
  • Chicago Hop-on Hop-off tour
  • Historic Chicago Tour
  • San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing tour
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  • Day 1 - Chicago

    Arrive in Chicago and spend the day exploring the city at your leisure with a hop on/hop off tour. See Millennium Park, the theatre district, the Art Institute, Navy Pier, the John Hancock Observatory, Willis Tower and other important city landmarks. Overnight Chicago.

  • Day 2 - Chicago Sightseeing

    Discover Chicago's South Shore on this 2-hour tour! Highlights include Grant Park, Soldier Field, the Adler Planetarium, the Art Institute, Orchestra Hall, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, Jackson Park, the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and much more! The remainder of the day is at your leisure to shop, take in a spectacular theater performance or enjoy a delicious meal. Overnight Chicago.

  • Day 3 - Depart Chicago aboard the California Zephyr

    Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station for your 1:50 pm departure and prepare for your train adventure. Once onboard the iconic California Zephyr, settle into your onboard accommodations for the 2,400+ mile journey across the country to San Francisco. As the train chugs across the Midwest, make sure to visit the Sightseer Lounge to meet some new friends and admire the passing scenery. Enjoy dinner in the Dining Car as you cross the mighty Mississippi River. Overnight train.

  • Day 4 - California Zephyr and the Rockies

    Stunning views of the Colorado Rockies await you this morning as the Zephyr climbs the front range of the Rockies. Keep an eye out for wildlife and enjoy the breathtaking scenery from your onboard accommodations, or opt for a more panoramic setting in the Lounge Car. During the summer months, take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the area through which you're traveling during a Trails and Rails presentation conducted by volunteer rangers as you travel from Denver to Grand Junction. Overnight train.

  • Day 5 - San Francisco

    The train arrives in Reno, Nevada mid-morning and continues across the border into California, climbing through the legendary Donner Pass, the high point in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The California Zephyr is scheduled to arrive in Emeryville around 4:10 pm this afternoon. Upon arrival, hop a shuttle for your transfer to the San Francisco Ferry building, where you can get a taxi to your hotel located near Fisherman's Wharf. Overnight San Francisco.

  • Day 6 - San Francisco Sightseeing

    Spend the day exploring the City by the Bay on a Hop On/Hop Off city tour. Learn about San Francisco's history from the early Spanish settlers and the Gold Rush to today. Highlights include the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Haight Ashbury, Coit Tower, Ghirardelli Square and more! Overnight San Francisco.

  • Day 7 - Yosemite National Park

    Discover the wonders of Yosemite National Park on a full-day excursion to Yosemite Valley and the Giant Sequoias. Visit El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and Inspiration Point before driving to a lesser-traveled part of the Park for a chance to hike in the evergreen forest to see the world's largest living things: a grove of Giant Sequoia trees! Overnight San Francisco.

  • Day 8 - Return Home

    Your California Zephyr and Yosemite National Park vacation comes to an end today. Check out of your hotel and transfer on your own to the airport or railway station for your return travel home.


Hotels are centrally-located, well-appointed properties such as the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago and Hotel RIU Plaza Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. 

Amtrak accommodations are available in Coach class, Roomette, and Bedroom. Coach accommodations include a reclining seat with leg rest. Roomette accommodations include a private cabin featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting to an upper and lower berth at night. Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day, and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower. All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge. Roomette and Bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train. 

Know before you go
Please be aware Amtrak may experience occasional schedule changes and service disruptions.  Vacations By Rail recommends visiting the Amtrak web site prior to your departure for the latest information.

+Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.

Hotel accommodations are based on availability; substitutes will be similar in quality and amenities.


It is your responsibility to check and fulfill the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.


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* Arrival and Departure times are subject to change. Please be advised that passengers traveling on California Zephyr Trains may encounter delays of approximately three to six hours due to heavy congestion, speed restrictions and other operating conditions. Chicago Historical Tour is not available on Thursdays and substitution of equal value would occur. The Giant Sequoias hike on the excursion to Yosemite is dependant on snow levels and trail conditions. Prices are correct at the time this webpage is published; however are subject to change. Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.
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