California Zephyr Denver to Salt Lake City: How did Llama pay for it?

Llama’s recent train trip aboard the California Zephyr was a complete success. If he can get his hooves together, he will write a blog post or two about the actual trip. But for now, he likes to look at the costs of the trip.

In total, Llama spent $492 for 2 humans and 1 llama.

Flights to Denver and home from Salt Lake City were covered with 14,069 Southwest miles and the Companion Pass. Taxes of $11.20 per person were paid out of pocket. We caught these tickets on one of the Southwest fare sales to save a few points.

The Hotel Indigo Downtown in Denver was covered by 19K US Bank points through the US Bank portal. The Hotel Indigo did charge a required $20 Denver tax, but they offset that with a $20 snack bar credit, so Llama grabbed some waters and snacks for the train the next day. Bonus is also the hotel added our IHG number to the stay for credit.

The estimated cash cost for the hotel would been $197, so about 1 cent per point redemption rate. Not bad.

The Hyatt House in Salt Lake City was covered with 16K Hyatt points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards for 2 nights. This hotel was in a great location for visiting the city.

Cash price would have been $356 for the stay. This is a 2.2 cents per point redemption rate. Llama is happy with that.

Both hotels were wonderful with great staff, excellent locations, and comfortable, clean rooms. Llama would stay in them again. No hesitation.

The Amtrak train tickets were $169 for 2 coach seats from Denver to Salt Lake, 1 senior and 1 adult. Llama also purchased travel insurance for the trip for $38. I paid for the Amtrak tickets by purchasing an Amtrak GC at my local grocery store for 5X Ultimate Rewards on my Chase Freedom Flex and 2X local gas points. Always know that Amtrak is flexible pricing. As the train gets more full, the price goes up. The earlier you can book the lower the cost.

Most of the activities Llama chose in Salt Lake City were free and transportation in the downtown area is free on TRAX or Llama’s friends got about 10 miles of walking in.

The remainder of the costs out of pocket were for food, Denver light rail tickets from the airport, home airport parking, a couple souvenir pins, and a couple of drinks. Llama was blessed that a dear friend took them to brunch Sunday morning are refused to let Llama pay. All of these expenses were put on 1 of 2 Chase cards to earn UR points.

Light rail from the Denver Airport is so easy to use, way cheaper than taxi or rideshare, and is better for the environment.

That breaks down to $141 per day for 3.5 days or $70 per person per day.

Llama would HIGHLY recommend this trip to anyone. It was so easy to do and pretty seamless.

Photo Credit: Travels with Llama. Somewhere near Glenwood Canyon, Colorado riding the California Zephyr on 12/9/22. 🚆

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