Amtrak's Southwest Chief Operates Itinerary on Santa Fe Trail

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The Santa Fe Trail is in the news as it celebrates its 175th anniversary as a major trading route.

Missouri trader William Becknell blazed the trail with pack animals, but clients can see the sights in more comfortable surroundings.

The Southwest Chief, an Amtrak Superliner train, follows portions of the trail as it makes its way between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The itinerary, which takes a little less than two days to complete, includes Flagstaff, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M., and Kansas City, Mo.

The trip gets under way with a Chief's Roundup in the lounge car, where passengers can enjoy Southwest-style snacks.

To make the journey more interesting and educational, tour guides from the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial Association will be on board for the New Mexico leg, which runs from Gallup to Albuquerque.

Passengers will hear about local history, culture and folklore as well as viewing points of interest along the way.

The Sightseer Lounge Car, located on the upper level of the train, offers panoramic windows from which to see the sights.

The lounge car features videos, and there are games in the dining car.

The train makes a stop at a Native American trading post in Albuquerque so that passengers can get out, stretch their legs and shop.

The route traverses part of the Mojave Desert on its way from Flagstaff, then enters Canyon Diablo, home of the Navajo reservations.

New Mexico side trips from Gallup include Mesa Verde National Park, the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.

The landscape features the red cliffs for which New Mexico is famous as well as the early settlements of the Anasazi Indians.

The train runs along the Rio Grande and makes a stop near Santa Fe.

The New Mexico portion of the journey takes about seven-and-a-half hours.

Other noteworthy stops on the way to Chicago include Las Vegas and Dodge City, Kan.

Passengers can choose from assigned coach seats or first class sleeping car service.

The latter option includes meals and private sleeping accommodations in deluxe rooms.

Family rooms that accommodate up to two adults and three children feature private rest rooms and a shower.

Roundtrip coach rates for this season start at $242 per person, $804 for an economy sleeper.

For more information, call (800) TEL-TRAK.

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