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Great Parks of the Southwest - 11 Day Tour
Discover the scenic southwestern U.S. on this 11-day tour through Canyon Country. Your tour begins in Chicago where you’ll board the legendary Southwest Chief for your journey to Winslow. From there travel by motorcoach to Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona’s second most visited tourist area, Sedona and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon. But that’s just the beginning! Additional tour highlights include visits to Lake Powell, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Arches National Parks and Dead Horse Point State Park. The rushing rivers, deep canyons, rugged wilderness and natural wonders of Arizona and Utah make this a southwestern adventure to remember!
Round-trip rail can be provided from your closest Amtrak Station. Contact a rail specialist at 877-929-7245 for details.
- 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
- 18 meals
- Sightseeing and scenic excursions (admission to all attractions included in tour price)
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Baggage handling
- Taxes and service charges
Scenic highlights include:
- Raton Pass
- Oak Creek Canyon
- Grand Canyon
- Lake Powell
- Glen Canyon
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Dead Horse Point State Park
- Arches National Park
- Colorado River
- Colorado Rockies
Day 1 - Depart Chicago aboard the Southwest Chief
Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station, meet your tour director and prepare for your 2:45 pm boarding call. Settle into your accommodations aboard this iconic train before the train begins its journey west at 3:15 pm. Make time this evening to meet your fellow travelers 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 expansive floor to ceiling windows offering impressive views of the ever-changing scenery. Overnight train. (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 7,834 feet. You may wish to participate in a Trails and Rail presentation led by volunteer rangers in the Sightseer Lounge and learn about the area through which you're traveling. Get set for adventure and experience the historic wonders of the Santa Fe Trail as you cross into New Mexico! Enjoy a brief train side walk when you pull into Albuquerque around 4:00 pm before continuing on to Winslow, Arizona where you're scheduled to arrive just before 8:00 pm. Transfer to your hotel for the evening. Overnight La Posada Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 3 - Oak Creek Canyon, Verde Canyon and Sedona
Your day begins with a journey through Oak Creek Canyon, the second most visited tourist area in Arizona next to the Grand Canyon. Keep your camera handy! This canyon is known for its multi-colored cliffs, colorful rocks and unique formations. Continue on to Sedona, nestled among crimson towers of sandstone and well-known for its inimitable heritage, culture and contemporary arts. Shop for pottery, paintings, jewelry and art in the excellent galleries and boutiques found throughout the city and in Tlaquepaque, a Mexican/Spanish-style village. A highlight of the day is a scenic rail excursion aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad. The 3 ½-hour round-trip excursion aboard this distinctive tourist train will take you through Arizona’s “other” Grand Canyon. Keep an eye out for Sinaqua Indian Ruins and a variety of wildlife and waterfowl. Overnight BW Arroyo Roble.
Day 4 - Grand Canyon Experience
After breakfast, board your deluxe motorcoach bound for the Grand Canyon, seen by more than five million visitors each year. Carved over several millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau, the canyon is unsurpassed in size, color and geological importance. Your tour of the South Rim will give you an opportunity to see the canyon from Mather and Desert View lookout points. Admire 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
Beautiful Lake Powell is located partly in Arizona and partly in Utah. No visit to the area would be complete without a cruise on the crystal-clear lake with incredible views of Antelope Canyon. Formed during the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963, Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the country and is home to an abundance of wildlife along its shores. Your day continues with the scenic drive into Utah. Overnight Majestic View Lodge. (B)
Day 6 - Zion National Park
After breakfast at your hotel, board the coach for the scenic drive to Zion National Park, Utah's first National Park. Your tram tour will showcase the most stunning aspects of the Park, from hidden waterfalls and hanging gardens to towering red and white sandstone cliffs and a spectacular gorge of uniquely-colored sandstone and shale carved by the Virgin River. About a half-mile deep and a half-mile wide, the canyon narrows to about 300 feet at the Temple of Sinawava. Overnight Best Western Ruby's Inn. (B)
Day 7 - Bryce Canyon National Park / Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument
Today's adventure takes you into Bryce Canyon National Park. Enjoy a guided tour including spectacular views of the cavernous canyons. The Park is named for just one of the many canyons that form a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Erosion has carved colorful limestone into thousands of spires, arches and mazes. After visiting the Park, enjoy the scenic drive along Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on your way to Torrey. This geological smorgasbord showcases a variety of rock formations including Grand Staircase, comprised of colorful cliffs, buttes, pinnacles and canyons. It rises in stepped terraces and cliffs, hence its comparison to a staircase. 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 many colorful canyons, ridges and monoliths. A must-see attraction and a defining characteristic of the 100-mile long Park is the Waterpocket Fold, step-like dips in the rock stretching the length of the Park. The Park is named for this natural attraction's appearance as the white domes and cliffs that comprise the Waterpocket Fold resemble the U.S. Capitol Building. Your day continues with an excursion to Dead Horse Point State Park featuring 2,000 foot sheer cliffs and an overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B, D)
Day 9 - Arches National Park / Colorado River Float Trip
Today finds you at Arches National Park, appropriately named for its 2,000+ natural sandstone arches found within the confines of this 76,000 acre property. Keep an eye out for the Park's 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. A 7-mile trail winds through Devil's Garden, leading travelers to other famous rock formations within the Park including Dark Angel, a free-standing 150-foot tall sandstone pillar. After you have explored the impressive arches in the Park, embark on a relaxing float trip along the Colorado River, bursting with breathtaking scenery. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B, L)
Day 10 – California Zephyr En Route to Chicago
This morning you'll 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, chat with your fellow travelers, or relax on your own and reflect on your exciting travels through America's Southwest. Overnight train. (B, L, D)
Day 11 - Return to the Windy City
The California Zephyr rolls across the plains and prairies of the Midwest before you arrive back in Chicago at 2:50 pm, where your tour comes to a close. Post-night stays in Chicago are strongly recommended to prevent missed connections. (B, L)
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.
BW Arroyo Roble: Located in uptown Sedona, next to Oak Creek, guest rooms feature private balconies with either reed rock or town views. Hotel amenities include an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, steam room and sauna, and fitness center.
Lake Powell Resort: Located on the shores of Lake Powell at Wahweap Marina, travelers are in the heart of the resort area's lake activities. Amenities include an outdoor pool and fitness room.
Majestic View Lodge: Located three miles from Zion National Park, this 69-room hotel features guestrooms with rustic furnioture and a balcony or patio. Amenities include guest laundry, a seasonal outdoor pool, and a year-round hot tub.
Best Western Ruby's Inn: This 368-room 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 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.
Red Cliffs Lodge: Offering stunning views of the beautiful red rocks, all guest rooms are located alongside the water and include private patios and kitchenettes. The property is also home to the Castle Creek Winery and the Moab Movie Museum.
CB = Continental Breakfast, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = DinnerVBR-1
Prices are land-only, per person.Prices are are correct at the time of this web page going live; however, are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
Pre and Post hotel nights are recommended in Chicago.
Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.