NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SOUTHWEST RAIL CIRCLE


May 27-June 9, 2017
Tour from $3899.00
Once again Rail Travel Adventures offers this classic National Parks rail tour as a late spring departure, before the great summer heat in the desert. There is a fantasy of stone and sky in the southwest United States, revealing panoramas of buttes and stone monoliths of startling shapes and sizes. New in 2017 is an added visit the ancient Indian cliff-dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park and a ride on the steam-powered Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge RR SILVERTON TRAINinto the roadless wilderness of the Animas River Gorge in Colorado's San Juans.

Participants experience Amtrak's magnificent CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR from Denver to Grand Junction CO, traveling through multicolored canyons into the heart of the Rocky Mountains. We return using the SOUTHWEST CHIEF from Flagstaff, AZ to La Junta CO across the Painted Desert and over Raton Pass atop the Rockies. These are two of the most beautiful rail trips in North America. Also included are rides on the Grand Canyon Railway and on the Verde Canyon Railroad out of Clarkdale AZ in the First Class Parlor Car with luncheon on board.
A unique “Sound and Light” cruise takes us down the mighty Colorado River into the red-rock gorges of the Canyonlands country of eastern Utah. A jeep tour with a Navajo guide explores Monument Valley to see ancient Native American ruins and towering rock walls. This tour includes a two-night stay in spectacular Westwater Canyon at beautiful Red Cliffs Lodge, a night at famous Goulding's Lodge in Monument Valley, and three nights in Flagstaff, AZ at the Little America Resort while visiting Grand Canyon National Park and the Verde Canyon in northern Arizona.

The parks we explore include Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park (with its incomparable views of the roadless wildlands of Canyonlands National Park), Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Glen Canyon National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. We invite you to join Rail Travel Adventures Tour Manager Denny Thompson, along with retired Rail Travel Adventure President Carl Fowler on this unique journey. Complete details follow. All aboard!

Day One, Saturday, May 27, 2017 Independent arrivals into Denver.Participants arrive in Denver, where a pre-tour night is included at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. The new “A Line” electric train provides a quick run from the airport to downtown's restored Union Station.

Day 2, Sunday May 28 (B) CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR to Grand Junction, CO. We board the CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR and climb through the Front Range of the Rockies. Lunch can be purchased in the mid-train dining car; and we also can enjoy all-around viewing in the glass-topped Superliner Lounge-café car. The train follows the Union Pacific's former Denver and Rio Grande Western RR's “Mainline through the Rockies—not around!”. The route evokes Teddy Roosevelt's comment that a rail journey through the Rockies is the “trip that bankrupts the English language!” In just the first 50 miles, we climb over 4000 feet through the South Boulder Canyon and traverse the 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel.At Granby we meet the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River. For the next 200 miles, we closely follow the Colorado through a succession of ever more spectacular gorges, traversing the Byers, Gore, Red, Glenwood, and Palisade Canyons. The Glenwood Canyon is over 4,000 feet deep. This awesome spectacle inspired the invention of the dome car. In late afternoon at Grand Junction, we meet our motorcoach and drive to beautiful Red Cliffs Lodge for a two-night stay in Westwater Canyon.

Day Three, Monday, May 29 (B, L, D)
Arches National Park; Dead Horse Point.The full day is devoted to exploring the Utah Canyonlands region. We visit Arches National Park, with the greatest density of natural arches in the world. We then travel to Dead Horse Point State Park, an overlook 2000 feet above the Colorado River. The view here extends out over one hundred miles of the red rocks country over the vast wilderness of Canyonlands National Park. This evening we enjoy a barbecue dinner and a narrated “Sound and Light” float trip on the Colorado River in Westwater Canyon.

Day Four, Tuesday, May 30 (B) Mesa Verde National Park.
We drive to Colorado's “Four Corners” to explore the cliff-dwellings of the Anasazi Indians, “the ancient ones”, who lived in these mesas until vanishing in the 13th century. Their empty homes are a haunting and unique site, in a setting of rugged canyons and vistas. We spend the next two nights in downtown Durango, CO at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, adjacent to the terminus of the steam-powered former Rio Grande RR Silverton Branch.

Day 5, Wednesday, May 31 (B) Steam-powered SILVERTON TRAIN.
The entire day is devoted to the grandest of all Colorado rail journeys and one of the most spectacular in the world, the steam-powered SILVERTON train's ascent of the Animas River Canyon to the “ghost town” of Silverton. The train travels 45 miles north from Durango through scenery that approximates Switzerland. For the last 30 miles there exists only the railroad, the glacial green waters of the Animas and the 12--14,000 foot peaks of the San Juans.
Day Six, Thursday, June 1 (B, L , D) Tour Monument Valley. We drive south through the immensity of the red-rocks country into Arizona to at our hotel in Monument Valley. We are staying at panoramic Goulding's Lodge. Lunch is included before our guided jeep tour deep into Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. With its many arches, buttes, brilliant colors and the famous “mittens”, this is a superb area for photography. Monument Valley is a place of haunting beauty, frequently used in Hollywood films including the John Ford/John Wayne classics “Fort Apache”, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, and “Rio Grande”.

Day Seven, Friday, June 2 (B, L) Goosenecks of the San Juan; Capitol Reef N.P. We drive northwest back into Utah, seeing the amazing vista of the San Juan River canyon at the Goosenecks of the San Juan, cross the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Monument, and drive through Capitol Reef National Park. Our hotel tonight is the Best Western Capitol Reef Resort in Torrey UT.

Day Eight, Saturday, June 3 (B, L) Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument; Bryce Canyon National Park.
We drive to Bryce Canyon, crossing Boulder Mountain at over 9,000 feet. We traverse the new Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument and experience the amazing Devil's Backbone. After lunch at the former UP railway Bryce Canyon Lodge, we explore the red cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park. At more than 8,000 feet elevation, Bryce is nestled in twelve huge bowls sinking into the earth. It is noted for thousands of freestanding “hoodoos”, made from eroded stone. Our hotel for the next two nights is the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, Kanab UT.
Day Nine, Sunday, June 4 (B, L) Zion National Park.The bottom layer of rock at Bryce Canyon is the top layer at Zion National Park! The colorful sediment layers of sand, soil and minerals have left a geologic showcase at Zion. Here we are in a deep canyon setting, with the flowing waters of the Virgin River contrasted with the towering cliffs. After lunch at the Zion Park Lodge, we return to our hotel in Kanab.

Day Ten, Monday, June 5 (B, L) Marble Canyon and Flagstaff. drive to Marble Canyon AZ for luncheon at the historic Lees Ferry Lodge. Our route takes us along the edge of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and across the mighty Colorado River on the soaring Marble Canyon Bridge before a relaxing three-night stay at the luxurious Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Day Eleven, Tuesday, June 6 (B) Grand Canyon National Park; Grand Canyon Ry.

We take a short drive this morning to Williams, where we board the restored former Santa Fe line to the Grand Canyon. Riding the Grand Canyon Ry. we ascend from the desert to the deep pine forests lining the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. We enjoy free time at the South Rim to enjoy the vistas. There are level paths along the rim, and a free shuttle service runs to even more stupendous West Rim overlooks. The Park Service Museums, unique shops and cafes beckon. In late afternoon we follow the East Rim Road past the Desert View Tower back to Flagstaff.
Day Twelve, Wednesday, June 7 (B, light lunch) Verde Canyon Railroad. This morning we depart by motorcoach for Clarkdale. A tasty buffet of snacks and hors d'oeuvres is included on this afternoon's trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad, riding in First Class. Along the way we may see bald and golden eagles and other wildlife. Sinagua Indian ruins are located along the route, which also passes through a 680-foot tunnel. This former Santa Fe Ry branch traverses a deep canyon with soaring cliffs of red and bronze sandstone setting off the sparkling waters of the Verde River.

Day Thirteen, Thursday, June 8 Amtrak's SOUTHWEST CHIEF to La Junta CO.
We're up early today for the spectacular ride on Amtrak's SOUTHWEST CHIEF on the former “Santa Fe all the way”. Today this is the mainline of the BNSF across the Painted Desert to Albuquerque and then over the Rockies. Our scenic route parallels the old Santa Fe Trail as we retrace the steps of the pioneers, crossing the Sangre de Christo range of the Rockies over Raton Pass. Our view is enhanced as we gaze through the wrap-around windows of the Superliner Dome-Lounge Car. Meals can be purchased in the mid-train diner. We arrive at La Junta CO in the evening and transfer to our hotel for the night, the Holiday Inn.

Day Fourteen, Friday, June 9 (B) To Denver; tour ends.

Our private motorcoach takes us to Denver, where this colorful tour ends with mid-day drop offs for independent departures at Denver International Airport (for flights departing after 2:30 p.m.) and at Amtrak's Denver Union Station.
TOUR PRICES are inclusive roundtrip from Denver and include all rail and motorcoach fares, all lodging, and sightseeing and meals shown as included above. Connecting travel in/out of Denver, meals not shown as included, alcoholic beverages, and items of a personal nature are not included in the tour price. Transfers and luggage handling are not included to the hotel on Day One, as there are too many potential flight/train arrivals. Good taxi and rail service connects the Denver Airport to the city center.

$3899.00 per person, double occupancy
$4859.00 single occupancy