AmtrakSouthwest Chief

Amtrak Southwest Chief: 14 Things You Need To Know Before You Ride

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The Southwest Chief is one of Amtrak’s iconic routes that connects Los Angeles and Chicago through the American Southwest.

Is the Southwest Chief a Superliner

The Amtrak Southwest Chief is a 2 level Superliner train that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Superliner sleeper cars have roomettes, a family bedroom and an accessible bedroom on the lower level and roomettes and bedrooms on the upper level. On these 2 level cars you move between cars on the upper level. There is no pass through on the lower level as the family bedroom and accessible bedroom run the width of the car. Luggage racks, a shower and bathrooms also occupy the lower level.

Lower Level Of A Superliner Sleeper Car

Can pets be brought on the Southwest Chief

Pets are allowed on the Southwest Chief in coach class but not in sleeper cars. Pets must also have a ticket, which can be purchased when you buy your ticket. There are a limited number of pet tickets for each train.

Is smoking allowed on the Southwest Chief

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the Southwest Chief. After leaving the station, fresh air breaks of 10-15 minutes happen about every 4 hours. During these breaks you can get off the train and smoke.

Is the Southwest Chief or California Zephyr Better

The California Zephyr is a better route than the Southwest Chief as it is the most scenic route in the USA. The Southwest Chief ranks as the 4th most scenic route in the USA though, so it still provides a great view. The main difference is that the California Zephyr ends in Emeryville, near San Francisco and the Southwest Chief ends in Los Angeles. The California Zephyr travels through the gorges of Colorado which makes it the most scenic route.

California Zephyr in the Fall

How many stops does the Southwest Chief make

The Southwest Chief makes 31 stops on the way from Chicago to Los Angeles or the other way around. The train will go through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona before arriving in California.

Amtrak Southwest Chief stations
Albuquerque, NM Amtrak station

What food is available on the Southwest Chief

The Southwest Chief offers traditional dining to its passengers in the sleeper cars. The meals are included with the price of a sleeper car ticket. Traditional dining meals cannot be purchased by passengers in coach class. The cafe is open to both coach class passengers and sleeper car passengers. Hot and cold meals can be purchased there throughout the day. The cafe is located in the observation car on the lower level in the middle of the train.

Traditional Dining on the Southwest Chief

Does the Southwest Chief have an observation car

The Southwest Chief has an observation car for its entire route. The observation car is open to all passengers in both coach and the sleeper cars. The observation car is open 24 hours per day so you can use it if you like to stay up late. Food from the cafe can be brought to the car to eat. There are tables, outward facing chairs and extra power outlets in the observation car.

southwest chief observation car
The observation car

Does the Southwest Chief run daily

The Southwest Chief operates daily in both directions from Chicago to Los Angeles. There is only one train per day so you cannot hop off and get back on a later train that day. If you get off the train to stay overnight in a city, you’ll need a new ticket to get back on the train the next day. You can board the Southwest Chief 7 days a week in either direction.

Does the Southwest Chief have WiFi

The Southwest Chief does not have WiFi and you’ll also have trouble getting cell service for some of the route. Once the train moves away from major interstates and cities you’ll lose your cell connection.

How Long does the Southwest Chief take

The Southwest Chief takes 43 hours to travel between Chicago and Los Angeles. This is the quickest train between the two cities as the Texas Eagle also runs between them, but takes much longer. The Southwest Chief covers 2,265 miles on its way between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Can bags be check on the Southwest Chief

Bags can be checked on the Southwest Chief if you are starting at a major station. Some smaller stations do not offer baggage check. If baggage check is not available you can use the luggage racks on the lower level of the cars.

How fast does the Southwest Chief go

The Southwest Chief has a top speed of 90mph and an average speed of 55mph. Much of the time on the train you will not be travelling at top speed, as it goes slower through towns and cities.

How much does the Southwest Chief cost

The base price for a coach ticket on the Southwest Chief is $183 and the base price for a sleeper car roomette is $623. You can get a better deal through discounts and sales that are run from time to time.

What stations does the Southwest Chief go to

Robert Marmion
Rob is married to Allie and together they have been traveling the world for the past 5 years. Rob is one of the most published photographers in the world, having published over 1 million images in the last 20 years. He enjoys doing landscape and astrophotography while on the road.