The full journey of the Southwest Chief stretches 2,256 miles (3,631km) from Chicago to Los Angeles, taking passengers on a historic route well-trodden by American Indians, Spanish conquistadors and fur trappers. We travel on just a short section of the route from Flagstaff in Arizona to Los Angeles overnight; we board the train in the evening and arrive at our destination the following morning.
The Southwest Chief departs Flagstaff and takes us along the route of the famous US Route 66 highway, through Arizona to the State Line, where we enter California. We cross the Colorado River and travel through the Mojave Desert, making stops in small desert towns before ascending the Cajon Pass at a height of 3,811 feet (1,162m). Created by the movements of the San Andreas Fault, the Cajon Pass offers a route through the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains. The Southwest Chief continues through Fullerton in Orange County and passes through the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles before reaching the end point of our journey: the Mission Revival style Los Angeles Union Station.