Train Rides of the Southwest

Southwest Train Rides

There are three train rides in the Southwest that are run by Amtrak Lines. These are the Southwest Chief, the California Zephyr and the Sunset Limited. These three lines are all part of the program known as “Rails for Trails” which is a collaboration between Amtrak and the National Park Service. In this program, park service representatives would provide educational resources on monuments, local national parks and sites while traveling on the trains.

Southwest Chief

The Southwest Chief is a higher speed passenger train that travels on a 2265-mile route through the Southwestern and Midwestern U.S. It runs south of the California Zephyr through New Mexico and Arizona on its way from L.A. to Chicago.

The train is made up of a pair of P42 locomotives, a single baggage car, a pair of Superliner sleeping cars, one Superliner transition sleeping car, a Superliner lounge car, a Superliner dining car, and a trio of Superliner coach cars. During the peak travel periods, the list may be added with a fourth Superliner coach.

California Zephyr

This passenger train which is operated by Amtrak is deemed to have one of the most scenic routes. Passengers can enjoy views of the Sierra Nevada and the upper Colorado River valley in the Rocky Mountains. Covering up to 2,438 miles, it is no doubt the second longest route of Amtrak. Travel time between termini is said to take around 2 and a half days.

Currently, California Zephyr uses the equipment known as Superliner. Usually, a train is made up of two P42 locomotives, a sightseer lounge car, a dining car, two sleeping cars, two or three coaches, a transition sleeper, and a baggage car.

Sunset Limited

With operations that started since November 1894, the Sunset Limited is America’s oldest named train which goes through the sunset route. This route, which originates in New Orleans, is the southernmost route of the three gateways to the West Coast. The other two routes were St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL.

The trip’s highlight is when it crosses the Huey P. Long Bridge which is west of New Orleans. Stretching up to 4.5 miles, this bridge is one of the U.S.’ longest railroad bridges. Elevation at the bridge is at 135 feet above the Mississippi River.

Sunset Limited has the following facilities: reserved coach seat, superliner lower level coach seats, dining car, sightseer lounge, and a number of sleeping arrangements. It also has checked baggage available at certain stations.