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Snow Zephyr - Chicago to San Francisco

Chicago in winter California Zephyr Sightseeing Mississippi River Colorado's Gore Range Donner Pass Truckee River San Francisco

See the best of the American West this winter as you travel from Chicago's winter wonderland to the shores of San Francisco.

5 days    $899

About the Tour

See the best of the American West this winter as you travel from Chicago's winter wonderland to the shores of San Francisco. Travel in the winter adds a bit of magic to any itinerary.

As your train travels west, you'll be awed by the plains and prairies of America's heartland blanketed in pristine snow. The Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains flash their snow-capped peaks. And the mild northern California weather greets you at the end of your journey.

This 5-day winter train vacation includes two nights onboard Amtrak's California Zephyr as well as one night each in Chicago and San Francisco.


  • Transportation aboard Amtrak (2 nights on train)
  • Hotel accomodations for 2 nights
  • All Meals on board the train (Roomette & Bedroom passengers)
  • The Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Moffat Tunnel
  • Colorado's Gore, Byers and Glenwood Canyons
  • Byers and Glenwood Canyons
  • Truckee River
  • Donner Lake
  • San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait
View Dates & Pricing

Call to Book 1-877-929-7245


  • Day 1 - Chicago's Winter Wonderland
    Arrive in Chicago and spend the day exploring the city's most popular attractions, all dressed in their winter finest. Visit the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, Willis Tower, the John Hancock building, Navy Pier, and Water Tower among other famous city attractions. Take time to explore some of the city's unique neighborhoods, ice skate in Daley Plaza, or during the holidays visit the Christmas Markets or see the store windows on State Street decorated for the holidays. Overnight Palmer House Hilton or similar.
  • Day 2 - Depart Chicago aboard the California Zephyr
    Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station for your 1:50 pm departure. Once onboard the iconic California Zephyr, settle into your accommodations as you begin your 2,400+ mile journey across the country to San Francisco. As the train slices through the plains of the Midwest, you may wish to visit the Observation Car or head to the Sightseer Lounge Car to meet some new friends and admire the winter scenes passing before you. Enjoy dinner in the Dining Car as you cross the icy Mississippi River. Overnight train. (D Sleeping Car passengers only)
  • Day 3 - Westward Ho! California Zephyr and the Snow Covered Rockies
    You'll awake this morning to a magnificent view of the snowy peaks of the Colorado Rockies on the horizon. Enjoy your breakfast in the dining car as the Zephyr climbs the front range of the Rockies and heads towards the Continental Divide. Visit the Sightseer Lounge Car to admire the winter wonderland. Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially when passing through the ski resort town of Winter Park. Overnight train. (B, L, D Sleeping Car passengers only)
  • Day 4 - California Zephyr to San Francisco
    Watch as the scenery changes from snowy mountains to canyons, lakes and greenery as you enter the final leg of your journey west. By mid-morning, your train arrives in "The Biggest Little City in the World," Reno, Nevada. Cross the border into California, climbing through the legendary Donner Pass, the high point in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Your train is scheduled to arrive at Emeryville around 4:10 pm this evening. A shuttle will be waiting to transfer you to the Ferry building in downtown San Francisco where you can catch a taxi to your hotel.Overnight Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf or similar. (B, L Sleeping Car passengers only)
  • Day 5 - Winter Escape in San Francisco
    San Francisco is yours to explore today! During the holiday season, make a point of visiting the Dickens Christmas Fair to get you in the holiday spirit. Visit the shops and restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf. Hop a trolley or enjoy a leisurely walk to others areas of the city. Don't miss Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, and Jackson Square. Your rail adventure ends today; however, you may wish to extend your stay in San Francisco to further explore this vibrant city. Or transfer on your own to the airport for your return flight home


Hotels include Palmer House Hilton, Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf. 

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 without notice. 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.
Prices are per person based on double occupancy, tax included. Prices are are correct at the time of this web page being published; yet, are subject to confirmation at time of booking. Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.
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