America's Great National Parks - Explore America’s western frontier on this exciting 14-day rail holiday.
America's Great National Parks
This exciting 14-day escorted rail journey incorporates two iconic trains, the Empire Builder and the California Zephyr, six amazing National Parks of the American West—Glacier, Waterton, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, and Canyonlands—and plentiful sightseeing.
Your holiday begins in Chicago where you will board the Empire Builder bound for the first National Park on your trip, Glacier, where you will explore the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road and enjoy a full-day excursion to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Next, your travels take you to the historic mining town of Virginia City before arriving in Yellowstone National Park for a two-night stay. Continue on to Wyoming for visits to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, and finally to Utah for visits to Salt Lake City and Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Board the California Zephyr in Utah for your return trip home through the Colorado Rockies.
Tour Inclusions & Scenic Highlights
One-way rail transportation aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder from Chicago to Glacier National Park
One-way rail transportation aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr from Price, UT to Chicago
Transportation aboard a deluxe motorcoach
Train accommodations for one night onboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder
Train accommodations for one night onboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr
11 nights hotel accommodations
Sightseeing including the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Waterton Lakes/Prince of Wales excursion, Virginia City sightseeing, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and float trip, the Oregon Historical Center, John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. Admission to all attractions included.
Services of a professional tour director
Scenic highlights of your trip include:
Gassman Coulee Trestle
Glacier National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park
Upper Waterton Lake
Prince of Wales Hotel
Upper and Lower Falls
Fountain Paint Pots
Grand Teton National Park
Salt Lake City
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Day 1 - Depart Chicago aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder
Arrive at Chicago’s historic Union Station, the starting point for your fortnights holiday, meet your tour director and board the famed Empire Builder for your scenic overnight trip. As the Empire Builder begins its journey northwest at 14:15, settle into your comfortable seat, meet your fellow travellers, and enjoy the passing scenery. Important cities along this afternoon’s route include Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the city by the lake made famous by its breweries, and Portage, once a regular stop for traders on their trips between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan. Don’t miss a Trails and Rails presentation in the Sightseer Lounge car as you travel from Chicago to Winona, Minnesota, allowing you to meet volunteer rangers from the Chicago/Mississippi National River and Recreation Area sharing historical stories and cultural artifacts from the region through which you’re travelling. At 22:30 the train arrives in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where you’ll have a 45-minute break to disembark the train and stretch your legs before the Empire Builder continues its journey west tonight. Overnight train. (D)
Day 2 - Glacier Park Montana
When you awake this morning the train is nearing Minot, North Dakota for a 30-minute rest stop. When your journey continues a little after 9:00, the train will cross the renowned Gassman Coulee Trestle just west of the city. Spend the day enjoying the passing scenery as you make your way into Montana and toward Glacier National Park. Take time to learn about North Dakota and Montana parks from volunteer rangers who will be sharing stories and artifacts from the area as part of the Trails and Rails program in the Sightseer Lounge.
Arrive in East Glacier Park at 18:45. With more than 25 glaciers, over 130 named lakes, 200 waterfalls, and more than 1,000 different plant species, Glacier National Park is a breathtaking wonder. Your hotel for the next two nights is the Swiss chalet-inspired Glacier Park Lodge, one of the historic lodges built by the Great Northern Railroad and the largest log structure in the world. Your hotel is a two-minute walk from the station. The evening is at your leisure to relax at your hotel. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge. (B, L, D)
Day 3 - Going-to-the-Sun Road Excursion
Board a vintage red open-air Jammer bus for a tour of Glacier National Park. The tour will take you along the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road across the Continental Divide. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore Glacier National Park on your own. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge. (B, D)
Day 4 - Waterton Lakes National Park
Don’t forget your passport this morning because after breakfast you depart for Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada’s fourth National Park and also the country’s smallest. With a diverse ecosystem, Waterton Lakes National Park contributes to the Crown of the Continent. Separated only by an international border, Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park joined together in 1932 to create the world’s first Peace Park. The Waterton-Glacier National Peace Park was created as a symbol of goodwill between the U.S. and Canada.
A highlight of Waterton Lakes National Park is Upper Waterton Lake, on which you will enjoy a boat cruise along the Park’s chain of lakes. After your boat cruise enjoy lunch at the Prince of Wales Hotel, overlooking Waterton Lake and Waterton Village. The hotel was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1927 and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Return to Glacier National Park later today with the remainder of the day at your leisure. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge. (B, L)
Day 5 - Yellowstone National Park, WY
After breakfast, depart Glacier National Park for the scenic drive to Yellowstone National Park. You will arrive with enough time in the day to explore Yellowstone on your own for a bit. You may wish to make time to see Old Faithful and kick off your stay with one of its scheduled eruptions. Overnight Grant Village, Yellowstone. (B)
Day 6 - Yellowstone National Park
Spend the day exploring America’s first National Park, Yellowstone, on a guided tour of the Park’s most well-known attractions including the Upper and Lower Falls, Hayden Valley, Old Faithful, Fountain Paint Pot and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Overnight Grant Village. (B)
Day 7 - Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park
The morning is yours to explore Yellowstone National Park at your leisure. Later in the day, board the motorcoach for your drive south to Grand Teton National Park, a picturesque landscape filled with towering mountains, sparkling lakes and an abundance of wildlife. Overnight Antler Inn or 49er Inn. (B)
Day 8 - Grand Teton National Park
After breakfast, embark on a float trip in Grand Teton National Park. As you drift along the Snake River, admire the Teton mountain range, the glaciers that surround the forests and wetlands in the Park, and the local wildlife including bison, elk, and moose. The remainder of the day is yours to explore the Park’s well-maintained hiking trails or visit the shops and restaurants in Jackson. Overnight Antler Inn or 49er Inn. (B)
Day 9 - The Oregon Trail Historical Center and Salt Lake City
Depart Jackson this morning, stopping at the Oregon Trail Historical Center in Montpelier, Idaho. Located at what was once the rest stop for pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail, this interpretive centre gives you the opportunity to step back in time and experience pioneer life in the 1850s, including a simulated wagon train. Your journey continues to Salt Lake City, where you will have the remainder of the day on your own to explore the city. Overnight DoubleTree or Marriot Downtown. (B, L)
Day 10 - Moab
Depart Salt Lake City for Moab this morning. Stop along your route at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum located in Green River, Utah. Powell embarked on many expeditions along the Green and Colorado Rivers in order to learn more about the geology and lay of the land. The museum features artifacts from his travels as well as replicas of his boats. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B)
Day 11 - Arches National Park
After breakfast embark on a guided tour of Arches National Park. You’ll be stunned by more than 2,100 rock formations of varying sizes and colours. Highlights of the Park include Delicate Arch, the free-standing arch that is the symbol of Utah, and Landscape Arch, the world’s longest natural arch. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B)
Day 12 - Canyonlands National Park
Today’s excursion takes you to Canyonlands National Park for another spectacular day of scenery. This National Park showcases colourful canyons, mesas and buttes along the Colorado River. Your day continues with a visit to Dead Horse Point State Park, offering stunning views of the Colorado River. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B, D)
Day 13 - California Zephyr
Your journey home begins this morning as you board the California Zephyr for the breathtaking journey through the Colorado Rockies. Share your favorite moments of the trip with your fellow travellers or savour the quiet morning hours to reflect on your journey through the western U.S. This afternoon you may wish to visit the Sightseer Lounge for a Trails and Rails presentation as you travel between Grand Junction and Denver. Meet volunteer rangers who will share their stories and artifacts from the region. Overnight train. (L, D)
Day 14 - Arrival in Chicago
When you awake this morning you will be passing through Creston, the highest point between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The California Zephyr crosses the Mississippi River around lunchtime and continues its journey through the fields and farmlands of Illinois as the train chugs toward Chicago, where your tour comes to an end this afternoon. (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 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.
The Empire Builder travels daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest along major portions of the Lewis and Clark trail. Travellers will enjoy magnificent views of the mighty Mississippi, Minneapolis’ glowing night skyline, the spectacular Gassman Coulee Trestle, and the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
DoubleTree: Guests will enjoy two-room suites that include high-speed wireless Internet access as well as hotel amenities that include a pool, whirlpool, and fitness center.
Marriott Downtown: Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, this luxurious 504-room hotel is centrally-located to the historic Temple Square, Symphony Hall, and many entertainment and dining options. Hotel amenities include a heated pool, sauna, hot tub, and fitness centre.
Glacier Park Lodge: The 161-room Glacier Park Lodge was built almost a century ago by the Great Northern Railway. In addition to well-appointed rooms, the Lodge contains the Great Northern Dining Room, Empire Bar, Empire Café Espresso Stand, a gift shop, outdoor swimming pool, nine-hole golf course, day spa, and more.
Grant Village: Named after President Grant, who made Yellowstone the United States’ first National Park, the hotel is comprised of six 2-story buildings, each containing 50 rooms with private baths. There are two restaurants with lake views, a lounge, and small gift store.
Antler’s Inn: Located 1 block from Jackson’s Town Square and within walking distance of many restaurants, shops, galleries, and evening entertainment, this 110-room inn features a 25-person hot tub, sauna, fitness center, guest laundry, and wireless Internet connections.
49er Inn: Located in downtown Jackson Hole, this 142-room inn includes indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a sauna, fitness room, wireless Internet access, and business center.
Red Cliffs Lodge: If you crave a break from the ordinary, a unique retreat from the all-too-familiar, experience the Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge. Located 14 miles up the Colorado River on scenic Hwy 128 from downtown Moab, it's situated beside the river's best white water rapids, at the foot of dramatic Red rock cliffs. A classic, rugged Western landscape worthy of Hollywood, and was in fact the site of numerous films, including Rio Grande with John Wayne.