Best of the West - Five National Parks
America's West is home to five of the country's most outstanding National Parks, and you can witness each firsthand on this extraordinary 14-day rail journey.
America's West is home to five of the country's most outstanding National Parks, and you can witness each firsthand on this extraordinary 14-day rail journey. Begin your journey in Chicago, Portland or Seattle as you board Amtrak's renowned Empire Builder. Your first destination is the spectacular Glacier National Park. Home to 25 standing glaciers, the days spent at this park are truly some of the most spectacular of the entire tour. Embark on a journey down the “Going to the Sun” road aboard a red ‘jammer bus” and witness the beauty of Lake McDonald on a boat cruise.
Following your time at Glacier National Park, journey to the Fairmont Hot Springs, the ideal “Travelers Rest” for an overnight of relaxation before continuing to your next stop, Yellowstone National Park. America's first national park, Yellowstone is home to famous sights such as Old Faithful and Hayden Valley. After discovering Yellowstone, travel south to Grand Teton National Park, home of unique wildlife like bison and moose. During your time at Grand Teton, visit legendary Jackson Hole and embark on a float trip down the Snake River.
Continuing on your adventure, stop at the stunning Salt Lake City. Spend your evening at leisure exploring this famous city. Visit Temple Square, tour one of the cities many museums or dine at one of the various restaurants in the city. From Salt Lake City travel to Arches National Park, where the greatest density of natural arches in the world is located, a truly stunning display of nature's beauty at its best. Conclude your National Parks of the west at your final destination, Canyonland National Park. Take in the colorful display of profound canyons and mesas. After your time exploring, board the California Zephryr for your rail journey home.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Train travel from Chicago, Seattle, or Portland to Glacier National Park, Montana aboard the famous Empire Builder train, a speedy scenic overnight trip.
- Hosted by professional tour manager that handles all the details.
- Two-night stay and full day in stunning Glacier National Park including the famed Going to the Sun Highway across the Continental Divide by red open-air Jammer bus.
- A blissful overnight stay in Fairmont Hot Springs with plenty of time to enjoy the healing waters (admission is included).
- Gates of the Mountain cruise on the Missouri River so vividly described by Lewis & Clark, a visual feast.
- Two-night hotel stays in Yellowstone, Jackson Hole and Arches National Park.
- Complete sightseeing throughout including all admission fees and special treats such as the scenic float trip on the Snake River in Jackson Hole, all at no extra charge.
- Luxury hotel stay in Salt Lake City, a nice 'urban indulgence' during our tour.
- Many meals including breakfast daily.
- Train travel from Colorado to California through the Sierra Nevadas or to Chicago aboard the California Zephyr train with a spectacular daylight trip through the Colorado Rockies over the storied Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad 'Mainline through the Rockies'.
Day 1 - Chicago, Seattle, or Portland
Travelers depart Chicago, Seattle, or Portland for Glacier National Park aboard the famed Empire Builder train, a scenic overnight journey via the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company.
Day 2 - Glacier National Park
Guests arrive in East Glacier today aboard the Empire Builder train. Transfer to the charming Izaak Walton Inn, one of the historic lodges built by the Great Northern Railroad.
Day 3 - Going-to-the-Sun Highway
Depart this morning aboard one of the famed red open-air Jammer buses for the stunning trip over the famed Going-to-the-Sun Highway across the Continental Divide. Later today, visit shimmering Lake McDonald for a boat cruise. Many of our passengers rate this the prettiest day of the entire tour and you will soon see why. Overnight Izaak Walton Inn. (B, D)
Day 4 - Gates of the Mountain cruise
After breakfast we depart for the Gates of the Mountain Cruise, a lovely two-hour excursion in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains between Helena and Great Falls, Montana. Aboard an open-air boat (covered in case of rain), you'll glide through magnificent country Meriwether Lewis would still recognize with great towering walls of limestone, Bighorn sheep, Mountain Goats and eagles.Today is a special treat and a relaxing coda after a few days of travel as we arrive at enchanting Fairmont Hot Springs, the perfect 'Travelers Rest' to borrow a line from Lewis & Clark on their epic journey through the same area. Nestled between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone this idyllic setting features a variety of soothing mineral pools (admission is included) and there is also golf and a fine spa with massage. The perfect refresher and a highlight for our guests that no other tour company offers. (B, L)
Day 5 - Virginia City, Montana - Yellowstone National Park
After breakfast, embark on another beautiful day as we head off to Virginia City, Montana, a historic mining town of great charm and later today, arrive at Lake Yellowstone to begin our two-night stay. Overnight at Lake Yellowstone Lodge in Frontier Cabins. (B, L)
Day 6 - Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first National Park and after breakfast, travelers begin a day that is a visual feast. You will see Upper and Lower Falls, Hayden Valley, Old Faithful, Fountain Paint Pot and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Overnight in Lake Yellowstone cabins. (B)
Day 7 - Grand Teton National Park
Drive south today to spectacular Grand Teton National Park, a spectacular landscape rich with jagged mountains, glaciers, pristine lakes and amazing wildlife including bison, moose and antelope. Here too, like in Yellowstone, guests enjoy a two-night stay with plenty of free time. Overnight at the Homewood Suites in Jackson. (B)
Day 8 - Jackson Hole
Today you tour Jackson Hole with the highlight being an afternoon float trip on the Snake River. Grand Teton National Park protects stunning mountain scenery and a diverse array of wildlife. The Teton Range is the focal point of the park, the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains. An active normal fault, the Teton Fault, lies on the 40 mile long mountain front. Rock is jetted into the sky some 7,000 feet from the flat plains, with the highest peak at 13,770 feet, the Grand Teton. Happily, we have all afternoon and evening at leisure to enjoy this quaint and historic setting. Overnight at the Homewood Suites. (B)
Day 9 - The Oregon Trail Historical Center - Salt Lake City
Departing Jackson Hole this morning we travel south, stopping at the Oregon Trail Historical Center and then traveling along the Great Salt Lake before an afternoon arrival in Salt Lake City. After our time in the National Parks, luxury awaits tonight in the Four-Diamond rated Little America Hotel in the heart of downtown. There is even time to visit Temple Square with all evening at leisure. (B, L)
Day 10 - Moab
Depart Salt Lake City for Moab and the remarkable Gonzo Inn, possibly the best of all of our hotels and certainly the most fun and well-located, surrounded by natural beauty and a short walk from various shops and restaurants. The hotel as a great outdoor pool, and our guests uniformly praise this as the highlight of a trip filled with many highlights and we enjoy a three-night stay in this extraordinary setting. All afternoon is free to enjoy the facilities, spa or nearby winery of this remarkable resort. (B)
Day 11 - Arches National Park
We tour Arches National Park this morning, with the afternoon free to enjoy the resort. The forces of nature have acted in concert to create the landscape of Arches, which contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world, over 2100 amazing formations of varying colors. Throughout the park, rock layers reveal millions of years of deposition, erosion and other geologic events. (B)
Day 12 - Canyonlands National Park
Today's highlight is a visit to Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves, another spectacular day of scenery. Tonight is your hosted Farewell Dinner. (B, D)
Day 13 - All aboard the California Zephyr
All Aboard! Board the California Zephyr this morning for the epic daylight passage through the Colorado Rockies over the storied Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad traveling through Grand Junction and Glenwood Canyon for a journey described by the BBC as one of the top ten train rides in the World. The train has a full dining car and Sightseer Lounge car and later tonight, pass through Denver en route to Chicago. Guests traveling home to the West will be transferred to Salt Lake City to board the train for the overnight journey to California. Overnight on-board. (B)
Day 14 - Arrive Chicago and continue home.
Cross the Mississippi River after breakfast and are soon speeding through the rich farmland of Illinois bound for Chicago with an afternoon arrival in the Windy City. West coast guests will cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range this morning for an afternoon arrival in Sacramento and the Bay Area.
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
Prices are land-only, per person based on double occupancy. Single pricing is available upon request. Prices are are correct at the time of this web page going live; however, are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
3rd/4th persons sharing a room pay $1,995 per person. No additional taxes or fees.
Guests who wish to upgrade from the included coach accommodations may upgrade to bedroom accommodations. Pricing varies by date and room type.