America's Great Parks of the Southwest - 11-day rail holiday including travel aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and California Zephyr as well as visits to Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef and Arches National Parks.
Great Parks of the Southwest
America’s scenic southwest beckons on this 11-day rail holiday to the colourful canyons, rushing rivers, and lush wilderness of Cowboy Country. See the country with two great rail journeys—Amtrak’s Southwest Chief from Chicago to Winslow, Arizona, and the California Zephyr from Grand Junction, Colorado across the Rockies to Chicago—and drink in incredible sights including Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Arches National Parks and Dead Horse Point State Park. This is a southwestern adventure to remember!
Tour Inclusions & Scenic Highlights
Rail transportation aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and California Zephyr
Transportation aboard a deluxe motorcoach
Hotel accommodations for 8 nights
One night aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief
One night aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr
Sightseeing and scenic excursions (admission to all attractions included in tour price)
Services of a professional tour manager
Taxes and service charges
Scenic highlights of your trip include:
Oak Creek Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park
Zion National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Arches National Park
Day 1 – Depart Chicago aboard the Southwest Chief
Arrive at Chicago’s historic Union Station, meet your tour manager in the Metropolitan Lounge and prepare for your 14:45 boarding call. Settle into your accommodations aboard this iconic train before it begins the exciting journey west at 15:15. Take time this evening to meet your fellow travellers and enjoy a full-course dinner in the dining car. Snacks and lighter fare can be purchased in the Sightseer Lounge, the glass-enclosed car with floor to ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the ever-changing scenery. (D)
Day 2 – Southwest Chief to Winslow
After a hot breakfast, spend the morning admiring the passing scenery, including the imposing Raton Pass, reaching an elevation of 2387 metres. You may wish to participate in a Trails and Rail presentation led by volunteer rangers in the Sightseer Lounge car and learn about the area through which you’re travelling. Stretch your legs with a brief train side walk in Albuquerque, New Mexico, around 16:00 before continuing on to Winslow, Arizona where you’re scheduled to arrive just before 20:00. Overnight La Posada Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 3 – Oak Creek Canyon, Verde Canyon and Sedona
The day begins with a journey through Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona’s second most visited tourist area next to the Grand Canyon. The canyon is known for its multi-colored cliffs, colourful rocks and unique formations. Continue on to Sedona, nestled among crimson towers of sandstone and well-known for its unique heritage, culture and art. Shop for pottery, paintings, jewellery and art in the excellent galleries and boutiques found throughout the city and in Tlaquepaque, a Mexican/Spanish-style village. Later, embark on a scenic rail excursion aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad. The 3 ½-hour round-trip excursion takes you through Arizona’s “other” Grand Canyon. Keep an eye out for Sinaqua Indian Ruins and a variety of wildlife and waterfowl. This evening, there will be a chuckwagon supper and a live Western stage show at Blazin’ M Ranch. Overnight Best Western Inn of Sedona. (D)
Day 4 – Grand Canyon Experience
After breakfast, board your deluxe motorcoach bound for the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World seen by more than five million visitors each year. Carved over several millennia, the canyon is unsurpassed in size, color and geological importance. View the canyon from Mather, Yavapai and Desert View lookout points on your tour of the South Rim, admiring the spectacular views of the Colorado River, the Canyon, the Painted Desert and Kaibab National Forest. Later today, travel to Page, Arizona, and enjoy a group dinner in the Rainbow Room at your hotel. Overnight Lake Powell Resort. (B, D)
Day 5 – Glen Canyon and Lake Powell Cruise
Lake Powell is situated in both Arizona and Utah. Formed during the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963, Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the United States. No visit to the area would be complete without a cruise on the pristine lake, offering incredible views of Antelope Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam. Your day continues with the scenic drive into Utah. Overnight Best Western Zion Park. (B)
Day 6 – Zion National Park
After breakfast at your hotel, board the coach for the scenic drive to Utah’s first National Park, Zion National Park. Your tram tour will highlight the most stunning parts of the Park including hidden waterfalls, hanging gardens and towering red and white sandstone cliffs. Overnight Best Western Ruby’s Inn. (B)
Day 7 – Bryce Canyon National Park
Today’s adventure takes you into Bryce Canyon National Park where you will set off on a guided tour including spectacular views of the cavernous canyons. The Park is named for one of the many canyons that form a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Later, your journey continues with a scenic drive along Highway 12 into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. You’ll be awed by the cliffs, buttes, and pinnacles prevalent throughout the area as well as numerous rock formations including Grand Staircase, so named because it rises from the Earth in stepped terraces and cliffs. Overnight Best Western Capitol Reef. (B)
Day 8 – Capitol Reef National Park / Dead Horse Point State Park
Today starts with a visit to Capitol Reef National Park, home to colourful canyons, ridges and monoliths. A must-see attraction and a defining characteristic of the 100-mile long Park is the ridged Waterpocket Fold, featuring numerous white domes and cliffs that resemble the U.S. Capitol Building—so much so that this National Park takes its name from this formation. Your day continues with an excursion to Dead Horse Point State Park featuring 609 metre sheer cliffs and an overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The day comes to a close upon your arrival in Moab, just 30 miles from the State Park. Overnight La Quinta Inn. (B)
Day 9 – Arches National Park / Colorado River Float Trip
More than 2,000 sandstone arches await you today at the appropriately-named Arches National Park. Amazing natural rock formations are abundant throughout 30756 Hectare Park. Keep an eye out for the the most popular attractions: Delicate Arch, the symbol of Utah; Landscape Arch, the longest natural arch in the world; and, Devil’s Garden, a series of rock fins protruding from the ground. Conclude your day with a relaxing and scenic float trip along the Colorado River. Overnight La Quinta Inn. (B, L)
Day 10 – California Zephyr En Route to Chicago
This morning transfer to the Grand Junction rail station and board the legendary California Zephyr for your journey to Chicago. You’ll be met with spectacular mountain scenery as you settle in for the overnight journey east. Be sure to visit the Sightseer Lounge for breathtaking views of the Rockies, take the time to share your favourite parts of the tours with your fellow travellers, or relax on your own and reflect on your exciting travels through America’s Southwest. Overnight train. (B, L, D)
Day 11 – Arrival in Chicago
The California Zephyr arrives in Chicago at 14:50, where your tour comes to a close. (B, L)
Prices are per person based on double occupancy. All prices are subject to change without notice.
Tour prices are based on costs in the country of destination. There occasionally may be fluctuations in currencies that are not reflected as a Sterling equivalent. The prevailing rate of exchange when booked will determine the specific tour cost.
The Southwest Chief travels daily from Chicago through the storied American West to Los Angeles. This legendary train chugs across the mighty Mississippi River and runs alongside the wheat fields of the Midwest. Travellers will be stunned by the spectacular scenery which can only be seen by train.
The California Zephyr makes the daily trip between Chicago and San Francisco, cutting through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, across the Rockies to Salt Lake City, and on through Reno and Sacramento into Emeryville/San Francisco. Enjoy magnificent views of the Rocky and Sierra-Nevada mountain ranges, deep canyons, and glistening lakes as your train speeds towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Best Western Ruby’s Inn: This 368-room hotel has the distinction of being the closest hotel to Bryce Canyon. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool and spa, high-speed wireless Internet, 8 internet kiosks, a Laundromat, and two restaurants.
Best Western Inn of Sedona: This 110-room hotel features 4 promenade decks from which to admire Red Rock Country. Amenities include complimentary high-speed wireless Internet service, fitness room, and a heated outdoor pool and hot tub.
Lake Powell Resort: Located on the shores of Lake Powell at Wahweap Marina, travellers are in the heart of the resort area’s lake activities. Amenities include an outdoor pool and fitness room.
La Posada Hotel: This historic hotel built by the Santa Fe Railway in 1929 has hosted many famous guests. Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Amelia Earhart, and President Harry Truman are only a sampling of the celebrities who have stayed in this restored railway hotel. Each room is uniquely furnished and offer views of the Santa Fe trains, cottonwood groves, the Secret Garden, or Route 66.
La Quinta Inn: This 99-room hotel is located in the Moab Valley, within walking distance to local eateries and shops. Amenities include free Internet access, guest laundry facilities, business centre, fitness centre and outdoor pool and hot tub.
Best Western Zion Park: Located just three miles from Zion National Park in southern Utah, this 69-room hotel features guest rooms with rustic aspen furniture and a balcony or patio. Amenities include free wireless Internet, guest laundry, an outdoor pool and hot tub and full service restaurant as well as on-site Wildlife Museum, Trading Post and Zion Canyon Brewing Company.
Best Western Capitol Reef: Located close to Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the hotel offers spaciously-appointed guest rooms and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Hotel amenities include an outdoor heated swimming pool, hot tub and tennis courts.