AmtrakAmtrak Tips

Top 5 Amtrak Sleeper Car Routes

complete guide to amtrak guest rewards points and upgrade coupons
Ready for a free trip using my Amtrak Guest Rewards Points
Grounded Life Travel is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. List of everything we use in our travels.

In this list of top 5 Amtrak sleeper car routes you will find the most popular cross country routes. Each of these routes has something special to offer. You can find more details for each of these routes in the corresponding route guide for each one. There is nothing more quintessential about America than a cross country train trip. You get the feel of a road trip without all the hassle of driving and having to make arrangements. Prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime.

top 5 amtrak sleeper car routes
Ready for a great trip

1. California Zephyr

The California Zephyr is known as one of the most scenic train routes in the USA. This route travels from Chicago to Emeryville, California near San Fransisco. The journey from the Heartland to the West Coast. This journey is 2,440 miles from terminus to terminus stations. After taking in the corn fields of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska you will start to head into the most dramatic scenery of this route. This train route will take you through mountains, tunnels, under the Continental Divide and dramatic canyons. The Sierra Nevada Mountains will signal the change in scenery. You will traverse Donner Pass and Donner Lake as you descend into the valley. The gorge section of Colorado is the best scenery available in the USA by train.

2. Empire Builder

The Empire Builder is a 2,200 mile journey through the Wild West. This route leaves from Chicago and quickly takes you across the Mississippi River where you’ll begin retracing the famed Lewis and Clark trail across the Plains of North Dakota and into Big Sky Country in Montana. You will be treated to the panoramic view of Glacier National Park and crossing the Continental Divide. The Empire Builder takes you from Chicago to either Seattle or Portland. Depending on which terminus you choose you will either see the Cascade Mountains or the Columbia River Gorge. This journey is not one to be missed. It’s not hard to see why the Empire Builder is on the list of the top 5 Amtrak sleeper car routes.

3. Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle

One route that often gets left off the top 5 Amtrak sleeper car routes is the Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle. These trains come together in Texas to complete the journey to Los Angeles. On the Texas Eagle you will start in Chicago and meet up with the Sunset Limited in San Antonio where the trains are put together and continue as the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles Union Station. Together they comprise the longest train journey in the USA covering 2,728 miles. The Sunset Limited begins it’s journey in New Orleans. This Amtrak’s southernmost route running parallel the the Mexico border as it travels through Texas and New Mexico, giving you some very interesting views.

4. Coast Starlight

The Coast Starlight has definitely earned it’s spot in the top 5 Amtrak sleeper car routes. It is certainly in the running for one of the most scenic routes in the USA. The gleaming waters of the Pacific Ocean is enough to entrance you on this journey of 1,440 miles. Starting the journey in the famed Los Angeles Union Station, this journey brings all the glitz you would expect of a journey up the California Coast. On the other end of this journey you will arrive into King Street Station in Seattle, Washington. If the waves crashing on the shore is not enough to move this route to the top of the list then the views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens will certainly do the trick. You will not want to miss a single second of this gorgeous journey north.

5. Southwest Chief

Last but certainly not least on our list of the top 5 Amtrak sleeper car routes is the Southwest Chief. This route is often overlooked as the scenery is mostly through the American southwest. But if you look closely you will see you are following Route 66 for a good portion of your journey. The Southwest Chief runs between Chicago and Los Angeles. If you love Route 66, you will truly enjoy this journey. This route also crosses the Mississippi River as well as rushing past eight states. The views in the west are dramatic and will certainly draw your attention. This journey is not one to be missed.

Top 5 Amtrak Sleeper Car Routes

It is easy to see how each of these routes earned their spot on the top 5 Amtrak sleeper car routes. It’s hard to choose a favorite route but the California Zephyr and the Coast Starlight are certainly at the top of the list. Each route has something special for the passengers.

Allie Marmion
Allie is married to Rob and has been traveling with him across the world for the last two years. She is an accomplished personal trainer, speaker and author.