Independent Amtrak Tours
Escorted Amtrak Tours
New England and Autumn Tours
Winter Escapes on Amtrak
National Parks of the Wild West is not offered this year. A variety of other spectacular National Park Tours are currently available for travel.
This great rail and motorcoach tour to the beautiful National Parks of Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, the true Wild West! Ride Amtrak’s luxurious Superliner-equipped Empire Builder over the legendary Great Northern Railway route from Seattle, traveling east along the shores of Puget Sound, over the Cascade Mountains and then across the Montana Rockies to Glacier Park Station. Other train rides include the new Copper King Express from Butte to Anaconda in the canyons of western Montana and two steam railways: the Alder Gulch Short Line at Virginia City, Montana and the Black Hills Central from Hill City to Keystone in the heart of South Dakota’s Black Hills.
Sightseeing spotlights two National Parks: Glacier and Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. In Glacier you cross the Continental Divide riding the famous Red Buses on the legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road and cruise the emerald waters of St. Mary Lake. Your exploration of Yellowstone includes the geysers of Old Faithful and the thundering waterfalls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. You also visit Lake Yellowstone and less-familiar sights such as the former Union Pacific Railroad depot in West Yellowstone, which now houses the exceptional Museum of the Yellowstone. In the Black Hills you marvel at the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore by day and illuminated by night!
Unique sightseeing experiences include a cruise on the Missouri River through the awesome canyon at the Gates of the Mountains, a tour of the restored Nevada and Virginia City ghost towns, a visit to the incomparable Buffalo Bill Historical Center (one of the world’s greatest museums of the old west, with wonderful galleries of western and Indian art) and a visit to the great volcanic monolith of Devils Tower National Monument. Wildlife is a tour focus. You watch for bear, buffalo, elk and moose in Yellowstone National Park. At West Yellowstone you tour the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, and in Custer State Park, South Dakota, you have a jeep safari into the buffalo herds that still freely range that area of the Black Hills.
- Amtrak's Empire Builder
- Glacier National Park
- Scenic St. Mary Lake Cruise
- Missouri River Cruise
- Ride the Copper King Express
- Alder Gulch Shortline Railway
- Yellowstone National Park
- Old Faithful
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
- Devils Tower National Monument
- Crazy Horse Memorial
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- Black Hills Central Steam Railway
- Wildlife Jeep Safari Custer State Park
- 10 Nights Hotel Accommodations
- All Rail Travel
- All Boat Fares
- All Motorcoach Travel
- All Sightseeing as included below
- 12/14 Meals as noted below
- Luggage Handling
- Professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Amtrak’s Empire Builder over the Cascade Mountains.
We board Amtrak’s famous Empire Builder Superliner this afternoon at Seattle’s King Street Station and roll east. First the line takes us directly along the shores of the Puget Sound for sweeping vistas over the distant peaks of the Olympic Range. We turn inland at Everett and begin a steep climb along the Skykomish River toward the towering peaks of the Cascade Range. In early evening we traverse the 7.9 mile-long Cascade Tunnel before descending through narrow gorges to the Columbia River at Wenatchee. We overnight in comfortable leg-rest reclining coach seats or, at the modest additional costs noted below, in your choice of Pullman sleeper accommodations. The diner-lounge car is open to all passengers. Sleeper passengers enjoy included choice of the menu dining. The Empire Builder is the flagship of western trains. Its diner offers fully-prepared-on-board dining from a menu of western specialties. (D for sleeper passengers)
Day 2 - Glacier National Park.
Dawn finds the train deep in the mountains. Overnight, a dome-lounge was added to the train, where we can enjoy great viewing as we climb the rugged grades in the Rockies. Departing Whitefish, we begin the legendary assault over the Continental Divide at Marias Pass on the supremely scenic former mainline of the Great Northern Ry, now operated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. In mid-morning we detrain at Glacier Park Station and begin our exploration of Glacier National Park. We drive north to the Many Glacier Hotel, where we have lunch. Then we drive to Swift Current Lake, where we board historic and unique “Red Bus” touring coaches for a sight seeing journey like no other.
In restored 1930s White Motor Company open-topped touring cars, we re-cross the Continental Divide on the soaring loops of the Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass. The views at the summit of the eternally snow-capped peaks of the Rockies are unforgettable. We end our Red Bus tour at Lake McDonald Lodge and transfer by private motorcoach to our overnight this evening at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, Montana. (B for sleeper passengers, L for all passengers)
Day Three - Scenic Swan Lake Valley; cruise the Missouri at Gates of the Mountains.
You drive south this morning in the shadow of the towering peaks of the Continental Divide, passing lovely Swan Lake enroute to a lunch stop in remote Lincoln. This afternoon you follow the route of Lewis and Clark as you cruise the Missouri River through its deep canyon at the Gates of the Mountains. You overnight in Montana’s capital city, Helena, at the new Great Northern Hotel, which is decorated to commemorate the heritage of the Great Northern Railway. (L)
Day Four - Tour Helena; dine on the Charlie Russell Chew-Choo train.
This morning we visit the superb museum of the Montana Historical Society, then tour Helena on the Last Chance Tour Train. We drive north to Great Falls and visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, then enjoy an included lunch at a local cafe. After lunch we drive southeast to Lewistown, where we overnight at the Yogo Inn. This evening we travel through the mountains and prairies of central Montana, while dining on fine gourmet cuisine on board the Charlie Russell Chew-Choo. The train follows the former Milwaukee Road line to Great Falls, passing over high trestles as we cross the foothills of the Rockies while enjoying dinner in the diner. (CB, L)
Day 5 - Livingston Depot; Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs.
Drive south to Livingston, Montana for a visit to the historic depot built in 1902 as the Northern Pacific Railroad’s original access to Yellowstone National Park. Its majestic row of pillars and ornamental architecture greeted travelers until 1979, when Amtrak suspended passenger service. We have lunch at the Northern Pacific Beanery located at the depot. After lunch we drive into Yellowstone National Park for a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs. Our hotel for the next three nights is the Holiday Inn Sun Spree Resort, located just outside the park in West Yellowstone, Montana, the one-time Union Pacific Railroad gateway. (L)
Day 6 - Nevada City; Bovey Restorations; Virginia City; Alder Gulch Shortline (steam).
You follow the route of the pioneers to the restored mining camps of Nevada City and Virginia City. First we explore the Bovey Restorations at Nevada City, a collection of original historic buildings brought in from all over Montana. This interesting “town” has been used in several movies.
You then ride to Virginia City on the usually steam-powered narrow gauge Alder Gulch Shortline Railway. After an included lunch at Virginia City’s Star Bakery, there is free time to explore the restored silver-rush camp before returning to our hotel for the evening.
Day Seven - Museum of the Yellowstone; Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center; Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful.
You begin with a visit to the Museum of the Yellowstone, housed in the beautifully restored terminal of the former Union Pacific RR Yellowstone Branch. The railways opened up Yellowstone National Park, and the U.P. built a beautiful combined station and restaurant here to serve its summer park tours. The center contains wonderful exhibits about the early days in the park during the era of railway touring. U.P. passenger service directly to West Yellowstone ended in the early 1960s.
Next you visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, which not only tells the life-story of the great bears, but also serves as an animal rehabilitation center for grizzly bears and other native animals such as wolves. This is a most unique wildlife park!
After a short drive into Yellowstone National Park, there is time to purchase lunch at Old Faithful (there are several restaurants adjacent to the geysers) and enjoy several hours viewing the active geysers. An Old Faithful eruption is certain, but there also is time to take the easy boardwalk paths to view other geothermal wonders, including hot springs, thermal pools and less-well-known geysers. On the return to West Yellowstone, we follow the Madison River and stop at additional geothermal sites for photography of the hot spring wonders. (L)
Day 8 - Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; Lake Yellowstone; Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
You take a different route through Yellowstone for most of the day today. Our first stop is the awesome gorge at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Here we marvel at the spectacle of the yellow and gray walls of the canyon and the thundering Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. As we motor south to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, we pass through one of the best areas in the park to see bear, elk and especially buffalo. Lunch is included at the restored Lake Yellowstone Hotel, overlooking the vast blue waters of Yellowstone Lake, the highest large natural lake in the Rockies.
You leave the park through the East Gate and descend a deep canyon to the “wild west” town of Cody, Wyoming. This was home to the legendary scout and showman Buffalo Bill Cody. His collections became the nucleus of one of the world’s great museums of the west, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, which we tour this afternoon. The collections here include one of the most comprehensive collections of western firearms, Cody’s personal “kit”, American Indian artifacts, and an incomparable collection of paintings and sculptures. Treasures include Bierstadt landscapes, Remington paintings and sculptures, saddles, Native American art, blankets and much more. We enjoy dinner this evening at what was once Buffalo Bill’s own hotel, the Irma. We overnight at the Holiday Inn at Buffalo Bill Village Resort. (L)
Day 9 - Drive the Big Horn Range; Sheridan; Bradford Brinton Memorial and Museum.
The Indians called the Big Horn Range rising to the east of Cody the “Great Shining Mountains”. These peaks were sacred to the Sioux and still are a place of great natural beauty. We drive across these glorious yet little-known ridges this morning to Sheridan, Wyoming. Lunch is included here at the newly restored historic Sheridan Inn before touring a restored cattle-barons’ ranch, the Bradford Brinton Memorial and Museum. Later we stop at the site of Fort Phil Kearney. The fort was abandoned by the US Army in 1868 when the Sioux Indians actually won the Bozeman Trail War. We overnight in the “black gold” coal mining town of Gillette, Wyoming at the Holiday Inn Express. (L)
Day 10 - Devils Tower National Monument; Homestake Mine; Deadwood.
This morning you stop to visit the remarkable mass of columnar volcanic rock that forms Devils Tower National Monument.
Drive into South Dakota, stopping for an included lunch in Spearfish. After lunch we drive the beautiful Spearfish Canyon Road, which follows the grade of a former Burlington Route narrow gauge line. We visit the historic town of Lead and visit the Homestake Mine Visitor Center. Before its closing in 2002, Homestake Gold Mine was the oldest, largest and deepest mine in the western hemisphere. We continue to the gold-rush town of Deadwood, located in the rugged Black Hills, for free time to view historic sites related to the lives of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. There also is a spectacular model railroad which can be viewed during our time here. We continue south to Hill City and overnight for two nights at the railway-themed Best Western Golden Spike Inn. (CB, L)
Day 11 - Crazy Horse Memorial; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Black Hills Central steam railway.
Monumental sculpture is a theme today. This morning we visit “the Shrine of Democracy”, Mount Rushmore National Park. We see the awesome carvings of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and (Teddy) Roosevelt in the ideal morning light that is best for photography.
Later we board the “1880s Train” of the steam-powered Black Hills Central RR for a trip from Hill City to Keystone. This line was built as a three-foot narrow gauge line, then rebuilt by the Burlington RR as standard gauge track in the early 20th century. The trip features extremely steep grades and offers sweeping vistas of the peaks enroute. The train frequently has been featured in Hollywood movies and television shows.
In the afternoon we visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, in the process of being carved from the entire peak of a rugged mountain. When finished, this will be the largest single carving in the world. It depicts the great Sioux warrior Crazy Horse astride his horse, pointing across the Black Hills range held sacred by the Sioux. Already much of the face is visible. This evening we return to Mount Rushmore for dinner in the newly renovated Carver’s Café with views of the Presidential sculptures and the twilight “Sound and Light Show” illuminations.
Day Twelve, Sunday, July 18 (L) Wildlife jeep safari in Custer State Park, Badlands National Park. We have a wonderful final tour event this morning, a wildlife jeep photo safari through the open range country of Custer State Park. Here in the heart of the Black Hills is one of the largest free-ranging buffalo herds. Our jeep driver-guides provide commentary as we seek these great animals out for photos. We also enjoy an included lunch at the historic State Game Lodge.
After lunch, we visit Badlands National Park. The tortured buttes and mesas here contain the world’s richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, some over 28 million years old. The forces of deposition and erosion have shaped this stunning and foreboding landscape. We then drive to Rapid City for a final night at the downtown Radisson Hotel. (D)
Day 12 - Wildlife jeep safari in Custer State Park, Badlands National Park.
You have a wonderful final tour event this morning, a wildlife jeep photo safari through the open range country of Custer State Park. Here in the heart of the Black Hills is one of the largest free-ranging buffalo herds. Our jeep driver-guides provide commentary as we seek these great animals out for photos. We also enjoy an included lunch at the historic State Game Lodge.
After lunch, we visit Badlands National Park. The tortured buttes and mesas here contain the world’s richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, some over 28 million years old. The forces of deposition and erosion have shaped this stunning and foreboding landscape. We then drive to Rapid City for a final night at the downtown Radisson Hotel. (L)
Day 13 - Tour Ends.
The “City View Trolley” serves the hotel twice every hour and offers an optional informal city tour if you have an afternoon flight. The fare is only $2.00 for the day and allows unlimited stops. The tour offers a recorded narration and visits all the major museums, neighborhoods and landmarks. Our tour ends with independent departures from Rapid City today. The Radisson offers a shuttle bus to the airport for $12 per person. Reservations can be made at the front desk. Taxis also are available. Plan to leave for the airport at least two hours prior to your flight departure time.