Discover over a hundred years of California train history from historic railways that supported the logging industry to the metropolitan transport that moves today’s residents of San Francisco around the Bay Area.

Starting at: $5,895 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Napa Valley Wine Train passing through a vineyard. Credit: Napa Valley Wine Train  Dining room aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. Credit: Napa Valley Wine Train  The acclaimed Napa Valley Wine Train. Credit: Napa Valley Wine Train  Passengers aboard one of San Francisco's world-famous cable cars.  Credit: Library of Congress  Cable cars, an icon of San Francisco. Credit: Library of Congress  Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. Credit: Jo Ackerman  ACE Train on Altamont Pass. Credit: Nathan D. Holmes

Railroading California

8 days from $5,895

Discover over a hundred years of California train history from historic railways that supported the logging industry to the metropolitan transport that moves today’s residents of San Francisco around the Bay Area.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

From historic railways that supported the logging industry to the metropolitan transport that moves today’s residents of San Francisco around the Bay Area, California has known more than a hundred years of train history. Join us for a unique journey to ride the rails from the Sierra Nevada through the Central Valley, across the San Francisco Bay, and into Napa Valley.

Highlights Include:

  • Sierra Nevada Railways: Journey to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park to ride the Sierra Railway, which held a starring role in many Hollywood films, including Back to the Future. Travel aboard the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, a vestige of the Sierra Nevada logging railroads that operates gear-driven Shay steam locomotives.
  • San Francisco Cable Cars: Ride these world-famous icons and learn about their history.
  • Napa Valley Wine Train: After crossing San Francisco Bay by ferry, enjoy lunch aboard this acclaimed restaurant on wheels.
  • California Western Railroad: Travel through coastal Redwood forests on the Skunk Train, a one-time lumber hauler that has attracted summer visitors since 1911.
  • California State Railroad Museum: Learn about the rich and colorful history of California’s railroads and the unique economic development that resulted at this highly recognized museum in Sacramento. 

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Oakland

Arrive in Oakland’s Jack London Square neighborhood by midafternoon. Check into the hotel and gather for a welcome reception, opening remarks, and dinner. (D)

Day 2 — San Joaquin and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Depart Oakland’s Jack London Square Amtrak Station aboard the San Joaquin to Stockton. Next, a short drive brings you to California’s Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, home of the historic Sierra Railway and the embarkation point for the first of your scenic-train rides this week. Afterward enjoy lunch on your own in picturesque Jamestown, California. After a chance to stretch your legs, you’ll travel to the hotel at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. (B,D)

Day 3 — Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

A vast network of logging railroads once existed in the Sierra Nevada. Its vestiges survive, and today we ride one of the best of them. Trains of the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad are powered by gear-driven steam locomotives operated on rail lines of the West Side Lumber Company before the 1960s. The track occupies part of the original roadbed of the Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company’s railroad, which ceased operation in 1931. After lunch in this wooded setting and a short drive to Merced, you’ll re-board the San Joaquin for the return to Stockton. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Altamont Pass / Niles Canyon; San Francisco and Cable Cars

This morning you’ll ride the route used by the pre-Amtrak California Zephyr on its way between California’s Central Valleyand its terminus on the east side of San Francisco Bay. The train, an Altamont Corridor Express, takes you over Altamont Pass and through Niles Canyon. You’ll transfer to Caltrain for a ride into San Francisco on rails that Southern Pacific’sCoast Daylight traveled. You will experience San Francisco Municipal Railway (“Muni”) light-rail and cable car lines on your way to the Cable Car Powerhouse, which doubles as the cable car museum. Ride a cable car to the foot of Hyde Street, to visit Fisherman’s Wharf or the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Dinner is on your own tonight, and you reach our hotel on one of the historic streetcars that ply Muni’s acclaimed F-line along the Embarcadero. (B,L)

Day 5 — San Francisco Bay / Napa Valley Wine Train

Today see Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge from the water this morning, aboard a Golden Gate Ferry boat from San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building to Sausalito. Upon landing you’ll will visit the three-dimensional, hydraulic model of San Francisco Bay used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to simulate tides and currents. More than 1.5 acres in size, it represents the area from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento and Stockton. Lunch today will be a special treat–aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Gourmet Express. After lunch you’ll shuttle north to Ukiah where you’ll have dinner and spend the night. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — By Rail through the Coast Redwoods

After a short drive this morning, you’ll travel the California Western Railroad aboard its famed Skunk Train through redwood forest. Completed in 1911 as a lumber hauler, the California Western attracted summer visitors from the beginning. In collaboration with the Northwestern Pacific railroad during the 1920s, it even had through sleeping-car service from San Francisco Bay. Later you’ll shuttle to Sonoma County where you’ll spend the evening. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — California’s Newest Railroad & the California State Railroad Museum

Today’s train ride is on California’s newest commuter railroad: Sonoma and Marin Area Rail Transit–SMART. A revival of the south portion of the Northwestern Pacific, SMART was authorized by the California Legislature in 2002 and funded by a sales-tax initiative approved in 2008 by voters of the two counties it serves. Its first 43 miles, between the Sonoma County Airport station and downtown San Rafael, began operation in 2016. After the SMART trip you'll depart for Sacramento. The afternoon is yours to spend in Old Sacramento, home of the California State Railroad Museum, best of its kind in the nation. Gather this evening for a festive farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Depart

Your trip home may be arranged from Sacramento International Airport; or, by connecting from Amtrak Capitol Corridor service, Oakland International Airport. Sacramento is also served by Amtrak’s California Zephyr to Denver and Chicago, and Coast Starlight to southern California and the Pacific Northwest.