Rocky Mountain Winter Rails to Yellowstone
Embark on a winter journey by train, coach, sleigh and snowcoach to fantastic winter destinations including Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
Embark on a remarkable winter journey traveling roundtrip from Denver to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks by train, motorcoach, horse-drawn sleigh and Snowcoach. Train journeys incorporated into the tour include daylight excursions aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief and the California Zephyr over the snow-covered Rocky Mountains; the steam-powered Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; the new Rail Runner service from Santa Fe to Albuquerque; and, the Utah Front Runner train in the shadow of the Wasatch Range from Ogden to Provo.
High points of this seasonal tour include historic Santa Fe, the amazing vista of the Colorado River Canyons at Deadhorse Point near Moab, and the Sunday morning concert of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. But the true highlight of the tour is extended winter explorations of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We stay 2 nights in Jackson, WY where you can marvel at the incredible peaks of the Teton Range, which soar over the Jackson Hole valley. Keep an eye out for hundreds of elk, up-close on their winter pastures. from a horse-drawn sleigh at the National Elk Reserve. While enjoying a 3-night stay at the railway-themed Holiday Inn at West Yellowstone, MT, we enjoy two day trips into Yellowstone National Park using unique heated Snowcoaches, which are tracked vehicles of the kind used for arctic exploration. In the car-free winter world of Yellowstone, the wildlife becomes virtually fearless. See if you can spot elk, moose, buffalo, and wolves during our expeditions to view the geysers including Old Faithful and the awesome waterfalls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Please note: Due to an early afternoon start on Day 1, a pre-tour night in Denver can be added to your reservation for a nominal charge. Vacations By Rail can also arrange rail transportation to Denver aboard the California Zephyr, which brings travelers to Denver the morning the tour begins.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Rail transportation on Amtrak
- Hotel accommodations for 13 nights
- 20 meals
- Rail excursions aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Rail Runner and Front Runner
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance
- National Elk Reserve sleigh tour
- Snowcoach excursions to Old Faithful and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour manager
Day 1 - Scenic drive along the Front Range
Your winter adventure begins in Denver with a drive along the Front Range from Denver to La Junta. A Welcome Dinner is included at Boss Hogg's Steak and Barbecue café upon arrival. Overnight La Junta. (D)
Day 2 - Southwest Chief over Raton and Glorietta Passes
We board the Southwest Chief for the scenic run over the Rocky Mountains to the tiny hamlet of Lamy NM, the nearest stop to Santa Fe. This is the legendary former “Santa Fe All the Way” main line, once the route of the “Super Chief” and the “El Capitan.” Luncheon can be purchased in the full-service dining car, and there is a mid-train glass-topped lounge car as well. Enjoy the rugged climb over Raton Pass, ascending to over 7,000 feet. In the afternoon we travel through the narrow canyons and around horseshoe curves leading to Glorietta Pass and the Rio Grande Valley. At Lamy we board our motorcoach for the short drive to New Mexico's historic capital city, Santa Fe. We have an included dinner this evening at the famous Pink Adobe Restaurant. Overnight Santa Fe. (B, D)
Day 3 - Santa Fe at leisure
Our hotel is just a short walk from the historic “End of the Santa Fe Trail” at the central square in the heart of Santa Fe. The day is yours to explore the many museums and shops like the New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art and the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors (museum pass included). Highlights near the square include the Palace of the Governors, which was the seat of Spanish, Mexican, and American territorial authority; the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art; the Cathedral; the New Mexico History Museum; and the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. The beautiful former Fred Harvey House/Santa Fe Railway La Fonda Hotel (“The Inn at the End of the Santa Fe Trail”) provides an option for a wonderful independent lunch. Overnight Santa Fe. (B)
Day 4 - Rail Runner to Albuquerque / Drive to Durango
This morning is at leisure to sleep in or complete your exploration of Santa Fe. Early this afternoon, we ride the Rail Runner Express commuter train line to Albuquerque, and then continue by coach to Durango, CO, for a 2-night stay. Overnight Durango. (B)
Day 5 - Winter “Silverton Train” to Cascade Canyon
The steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway takes us on a full-day roundtrip excursion to Cascade Canyon Wye through the awesome canyon of the Animas River. The mighty peaks of the San Juan Range soar above the roadless gorge. The pretty and lively town of Durango contains many restaurants and shops to fill our leisure hours upon completion of our train ride. Overnight Durango. (B, L)
Day 6 - Drive through Red Rocks Country to Salt Lake City
We drive northwest into the desert landscape of the Red Rocks region of Utah. After a lunch stop in Moab, we ascend to an incomparable viewpoint of the narrow gorges of the Colorado River as it traverses Canyonlands National Park in Deadhorse Point State Park. This evening we overnight on Temple Square. Overnight Salt Lake City. (B, L)
Day 7 - Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sunday concert / Jackson Hole
Attendance at the Sunday morning radio concert of the legendary Mormon Tabernacle Choir, performed at Temple Square (the “Crossroads of the West”) is this morning's highlight. We then drive north into the Rockies, following the narrow canyons of the Snake River to the Jackson Hole Valley. Overnight Jackson. (B)
Day 8 - National Elk Reserve sleigh tour / Museum of Wildlife Art*
This morning we begin our wildlife safaris with a horse-drawn sleigh tour of the National Elk Refuge. When the winter snows close the high mountain pastures, thousands of elk gather in Jackson Hole to feed on hay provided by the Forest Service. Our sleighs take us into the middle of the elk gathering. Later we explore the wonderful collection at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and have free time to for optional lunches and shopping in Jackson. Overnight Jackson. (B)
Day 9 - Tour Grand Teton National Park / scenic drive to West Yellowstone*
This morning we enjoy a motorcoach tour of Grand Teton National Park. We stop at the Visitor's Center and at several overlooks to view the towering peaks of the Teton Range. The mountains rise nearly 5,000 feet from the valley floor in Jackson Hole. Next we drive to West Yellowstone, MT, where we check into our hotel and enjoy a prime rib dinner at the hotel this evening (non-beef dishes are available as well). Overnight West Yellowstone. (B, D)
Day 10 - Full-day Snowcoach trip to Old Faithful*
The roads in Yellowstone National Park are not plowed in winter. The only access for groups is by Snowcoaches (tracked vehicles on broad treads) to explore the snow-covered roads. With no cars allowed and very few people present, the wildlife is particularly unafraid and therefore more visible in the winter. We are likely to see elk, moose, buffalo and wolves today and tomorrow. The boiling water from the geysers and hot springs keeps most of the Firehole River free of ice, which encourages animals to congregate along the stream as well. Our travel is along the river through the Lower and Midway Geyser Basins to Old Faithful. We see multiple geysers including the most reliable performer, Old Faithful Geyser itself, and enjoy a hot lunch at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. There also is free time (weather permitting) to walk the paths to the geysers, which stay open due to the geothermal heat and the hard work of Park staff. Overnight West Yellowstone. (B, L)
Day 11 - Full-day Snowcoach trip to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone*
We enjoy a full-day's excursion over the mountains to view the awesome spectacle of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the tremendous cataracts of the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls. A boxed lunch is included. Overnight West Yellowstone. (B, L)
Day 12 - Tour Ogden Union Depot Museum Center / Front Runner to Provo
We drive south to Ogden, UT to visit the Ogden Union Depot Museum Center. This landmark depot, the former “hub” of the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific transcontinental railway, now houses the Utah State Railroad Museum, the Browning Firearms Museum, and an historic car collection. Admission is included, and there is time for independent lunches before boarding the new Front Runner commuter rail train. We ride the Union Pacific mainline through Salt Lake City and south along the peaks of the Wasatch Range to Provo. Here we reboard our coach for a sunset drive over Soldiers Summit to Price, UT, where we overnight . Our Farewell Dinner is at the Castle Ranch Steakhouse. Overnight Price. (B, D)
Day 13 - California Zephyr through the Colorado River Canyons and over the Rockies
The California Zephyr takes us on the most beautiful one-day journey on the Amtrak system today. We ride the Union Pacific's former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad mainline, long promoted as the “Rio Grande Thru the Rockies—Not Around” from Price/Helper, UT to Denver, CO. For over 236 miles we follow the gorges of the Colorado River, traversing in succession the Westwater, Palisade-Dubeque, Glenwood, Red, Gore and Byers Canyons, then climb steeply to crest the Rockies over the Continental Divide. We reach over 9,000 feet at the summit, which comes deep inside the 6.2 mile-long Moffat Tunnel. In late afternoon we descend the South Boulder Canyon to Plainview, where an amazing viewpoint reveals the vast expanse of the Great Plains spread out to the east for over 100 miles. Overnight Denver. (B)
Day 14 - Tour Conclusion
Your Rocky Mountain winter getaway ends today with individual departures.
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Train and Hotel Accommodations
Holiday Inn Express (La Junta), Santa Fe Inn, DoubleTree Hilton (Durango), Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, Wyoming Inn (Jackson), Holiday Inn (West Yellowstone), Holiday Inn (Price), Hilton Garden Inn (Denver).
Dates & Prices
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|16th February 2015||$3,299||Book Now|
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: Departs 16th February 2015 ($3,299)
* All activities in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are weather dependent. In the event of adverse conditions, the itinerary could be changed for your comfort and safety.
Note: This is a soft-adventure tour. To fully enjoy the trip participants need warm winter clothes and boots and should be able to walk at least a half mile over snow-covered and uneven ground. The National Park Service keeps paths open to select viewpoints, but these are often snow-packed. Snowshoes are not needed. Below zero temperatures are possible on this trip, especially in the Yellowstone area.