Southwest Chief

Route

Chicago - Albuquerque - Los Angeles Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, through the vast expanse of the fabled American West. You'll be mesmerized by this region's beauty and allure. We'll take you across the mighty Mississippi through eight states—past wheat fields and ranches, missions and pueblos, mountains and deserts. Carving through curving canyon passages only a few feet wider than the train itself, you'll see spectacular landscapes and pristine vistas not visible from interstate highways.

Length of Trip

40+ hours

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The journey to Flagstaff, winding through mountain passes and across prairie and desert, is a thing in itself. One cannot help whistling "Home on the Range" as the train rumbles past homestead farms with windmills all aflutter. At a stop in a dusty town in Colorado, it is difficult to force oneself back onto the train and resist the urge to explore this strange new world. It is essential that you arrive in Flagstaff after dark, that you stay in one of the old motels next to the tracks, that you sleep fitfully in anticipation of the day to come. In the morning, the shroud is lifted and the forested hills around the town bask in the morning mountain light. The chill of the mountains is best countered with a visit to Macy's, one of Flagstaff's many coffeehouses that cater to its large population of students, artists, and eccentric mountain dwellers.Flagstaff itself offers little to a pedestrian sightseer. A stroll through the downtown is a stroll through the wild west, with little else at the end save for the welcoming doors of the saloon. Flagstaff is also an ideal base camp for a visit to the Grand Canyon. The canyon is a wonder to which words do no justice and of which pictures offer only the vaguest approximation. The canyon should be approached with closed eyes, so that you first sight of it is from the edge of one of the lookout points. For the more athletically inclined, a short hike into the canyon opens wide the doors of perception, imprinting you with the experience of a wholly other world. Things to watch out for: rattlesnakes, hungry and fearless canyon squirrels, feisty crows, black widow spiders, scorpions, cactus barbs, falling rocks, and desolate heat. Be sure to bring plenty of water or you'll find yourself wilting like a towering century plant past its prime. Cap off a trip to the canyon with your feet up in one of Flagstaff's many bars sipping mountain microbrews, or by devouring the formidable "California Burrito" at the aptly named Taco Loco.