All Aboard the California Zephyr

Updated: May 30

I remember the first time I boarded the train out of Omaha several years ago thinking I would have a unique experience. I was so right! Since then, I've taken the California Zephyr several times, and each trip was an adventure.

With over 30 stops along the way, the California Zephyr runs from Chicago to Emeryville, California. During this journey, you'll see some of America's most scenic landscapes. As you climb through the Rockies and continue westward through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the views are breathtaking!

Fraser-Winter Park Stop
Stops along the route

Moon River

The sights through the Rocky Mountains are my favorite. Views are best from the viewing car when the train passes through 43 tunnels carved into the mountains. You'll cross the Continental Divide, cruise along the Colorado River, and travel through the red rock walls of Glenwood Canyon.

During my first Zephyr trip, I was sitting in the observation car, watching the whitewater rafters on the Colorado River with a retired couple from England. Then, one of the rafters stood up, turned around, dropped his pants and mooned the train. Laughter erupted in the car as everyone pointed to the moons on the river.

California Zephyr at Glenwood Springs
Selfie in the Observation Car

Don’t Pet the Goats

Recently, I took the Zephyr heading to Colorado for some hiking. I boarded in Omaha around 11:00pm, fell asleep, woke up around 6:30am as we pulled into Union Station in Denver.

Denver Union Station

I rented a car in Downtown Denver then made my way to Mt. Evans Wilderness Area, a quick 40-minute drive away. The area boasts Mt. Evans, one of Colorado's fourteeners, and the highest paved road in North America, which provides breathtaking views and Rocky Mountain Goats scrambling across the rocky terrain. After spending the day hiking the Chicago Lakes trail, I headed to my next destinations, Eldorado Canyon State Park and Gross Reservoir.

Mountain Goat on Mt Evans
Mountain Goats on Mt Evans Summit

Hidden Treasures

Among the most popular hidden gems in Colorado are Eldorado Canyon State Park and Gross Reservoir. These are both located in the Boulder area. The park is small but mighty as the South Boulder Creek flows through the golden canyon walls, home to some outstanding hiking and rock climbing.

Park Entrance
South Boulder Creek

About 40 miles northwest of Denver, Gross Reservoir sits at 7,225 feet. It's home to some of the best fishing, camping, hiking and sunrises in the state. The colors of the sky lightened as I hiked along a trail overlooking the dam as the sunrise filled the sky with beautiful, vibrant colors. Suddenly, I was surrounded by colorful reflections as light filled the area.

Gross Reservoir
Sunrise on the Trail at Gross Reservoir
Sunrise at Gross Reservoir

Rocky Mountain High

Colorado is home to 4 National Parks, 8 National Monuments, 42 State Parks, 11 National Forests, 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet and over 30 world class Ski Areas. I find it amazing that all of this is just over 500 miles away and only a scenic ride on the California Zephyr away from my home in the Nebraska plains! It is an amazing world God has created. Take a few moments and check out sunrises/sunsets on the site for some of God's artwork in nature!


Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.


Mark

Mt. Evans Summit

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