Travel log April 23rd, 2024

My Second Day on the California Zephyr

I woke up at around 6am after my first night's sleep on the train. It took me a few hours to get to sleep, but once my body was used to movement of the train, I slept soundly for a good few hours.

After freshening up a bit, I went to the dining car for an early breakfast at 6:30am. I was the first person there, but was quickly joined by a couple from Oregon. We spent a good two hours talking and revelling in the landscape of the Utah desert, with its bold and beautiful mountains, whilst having some amazing french toast with strawberries and a lot of coffee.

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By the time I got back to my room, we were almost moving into the state of Colorado. Later today, we'd go past the town of Boulder, where I've been a few times before, and a stop in Denver.


As we proceeded into Colorado, the landscape became more lush and green, with more farming and commercial activity than in Utah's barren valleys.


It is a beautiful state, also known for its peaches, which mostly come from a place called Palisade, that we passed by. Taking good pictures today is difficult, because the sun is shining directly at us, and the train is going quite quickly through this area.

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Getting further into Colorado, the weather became a bit more cloudy, and the hills more red - we're in Rocky Mountains territory now!

The train conductor on this part of the trip is amazing, really funny announcements! He talked about how a 'certain' train conductor once upon a time a few decades ago proposed to a woman at the top of one of these mountains, and the awkward hike back down the mountain that followed… 😁


Before arriving in Denver, we passed through Gore Canyon, one of the undeniably most beautiful parts of the route. The tracks here have many twists and turns, allowing you to see the front part of the train pass through some of the tunnels in the Canyon before you're in them.

This canyon leads into to a set of rapids that is part of the Colorado River.

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After Denver, we slowly made our way towards the border with Kansas and Nebraska, and by midnight we made it midway through Nebraska.


Tomorrow, on the last leg of the journey, we'll make our way through Iowa, before finally reaching Illinois and arriving at Chicago Union Station around lunch time.

Sleeping the second night definitely was a lot easier, even though the tracks in Nebraska are in a worse shape, leading to a bit more of a bumpy ride.

This was definitely the best train trip I've ever taken. It's hard to express in pictures (and I didn't try too hard to do it in words either) how many unique landscapes you see during this 2.5 day trip. I've seen 7 states from a unique angle in just over 50 hours, there's no other way I think you can do that.

In addition, the food and the staff was amazing, and it was great to meet such diverse people and have conversations over breakfast, lunch and dinner with people I'd never usually strike up a conversation with. There's a lot of retirees taking this train, who all have fascinating life stories and really gave colour to this journey. Great way to spend a few vacation days.