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Canyons, Glaciers & Waterfalls by Rail

17 days From $5,306 per person
4.0 stars(2 reviews)

Take a rail journey to three of the US's famed National Parks, aboard three renowned Amtrak trains.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2024 Tour code: WC-CGWR-24

About the tour

Start your rail vacation in Chicago, with the first day at your leisure. Between the city's numerous museums, terrific shopping, and delicious local cuisine, it will be hard to fit experiencing all that's outstanding about this city in one day. After Chicago, begin your train journey by visiting one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon. While at the Canyon have the opportunity to ride the historic Grand Canyon Railway to the Canyon's South Rim. Additional highlights include city stays in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Continue your journey aboard the Southwest Chief towards Los Angeles. Keep your eyes peeled for a possible celebrity sighting as you get a day to sightsee in this star-studded city. Upon your visit to Los Angeles continue to San Francisco, which is a short motor coach ride to the beautiful Yosemite National Park. The dazzling waterfalls and diverse plant and wildlife are what make this National Park truly unique.

Proceed north towards Seattle, where you will board your final train of the trip, the Empire Builder, to gorgeous Glacier National Park. Spend the last part of your journey exploring this stunning National Park, with glaciers over 4,000 years old.


What’s included


Day 1 - Arrive in Chicago

Arrive at your centrally-located hotel in the heart of downtown Chicago. Learn all all about the city's history and gaze at the skyscrapes on an iconic archicture tour through the river in the heart of the city. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure and see all the famous sites including the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, and the John Hancock Observatory. Make sure to indulge in some local cuisine such as Chicago deep dish pizza. Overnight Chicago.

Day 2 - Depart Chicago aboard the Southwest Chief

The morning is yours to explore Chicago at your leisure before you transfer on your own to Chicago's historic Union Station for your 3:00 pm departure aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief for your overnight journey to Williams, AZ. Overnight train.

  • Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 3 - Arrive in Williams, AZ.

Spend the day socializing with other passengers or take in the sights in the Sightseer Lounge as you travel through the great Southwest. Arrive in Williams, AZ around 10:30 this evening. Overnight Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 4 - Grand Canyon Railway to South Rim

Wake-up early and enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Grand Depot Cafe. Then board the vintage rail cars of the Grand Canyon Railway for a 9:30 am departure to the South Rim of the Canyon. Travel the same route as other notable Railway passengers before you including William Howard Taft, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, and Doris Day. Upon arrival, you will be met by tour buses waiting to take you on a Freedom Tour of the Grand Canyon. This narrated motorcoach tour of the South Rim visits the most scenic overlooks of the canyon, with stops at breathtaking vistas including Mohave Point, Pima Point, the Abyss, and Hermits Rest. Overnight Maswik Lodge.

  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Explore the South Rim of Grand Canyon on own

Spend the morning exploring the South Rim on your own or take another guided tour. There are several historical buildings worth visiting including Buckey O'Neill's Cabin, the longest continually standing structure in the South Rim; and Bright Angel Lodge with its small museum honoring Fred Harvey, who played a prominent role in popularizing the Grand Canyon. Opt to visit Mary Colter's Lookout Studio and Hopi House, or take the shuttle to the Geology Museum at Yavapai Point or to the Visitor Center.  Overnight Maswik Lodge.

Day 6 - Grand Canyon Railway to Williams Southwest Chief to LA

Transfer to Williams aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. Enjoy dinner and relax before you board the 10:30 pm Southwest Chief bound for Los Angeles. Overnight train.

  • Dinner
Day 7 - Arrive Los Angeles

Say "Hooray for Hollywood" as you arrive in Los Angeles around 8:15 am. Check into your downtown hotel and take the rest of the day to explore LA at your leisure. Take in the sights, go shopping or dine seaside. Overnight Los Angeles.

Day 8 - Explore Los Angeles

Discover Los Angeles on a small group tour through the city's highlights. Enjoy the views of the city as you drive through the tour points with your local guide. From Downtown L.A. through Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive, and Beverly Hills, take in Los Angeles's hotspots on this grand city tour. Overnight Los Angeles.

Day 9 - Coast Starlight to San Francisco

This morning arrive at Los Angeles' Union Station to board Amtrak's Coast Starlight for your 10:10 am departure for San Francisco. Spend the day relaxing, reading a book, watching a movie or socializing with other travelers, taking time to enjoy the gorgeous California coastline! Arrive in Emeryville, this evening and transfer by thruway bus to San Francisco. Overnight Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf or similar.

Day 10 - Yosemite National Park

Home to the American Black Bear, Ponderosa Pine, Spotted Owl, and mule deer, Yosemite's biodiversity is bound to leave you breathless. Discover all the beauty of one of the world's greatest natural wonders on a full-day tour to this beautiful National Park. Start early as you cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at sunrise. Then spend the day exploring the Park's five vegetation zones, a guided tour of the Sierra Mountains, and the options of shopping, hiking and dining in Yosemite Village. Overnight Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf or similar.

Day 11 - Coast Starlight to Seattle

You have a full day at leisure in San Francisco. This evening, head to the Emeryville Amtrak station for your 10:00 pm departure aboard the Coast Starlight. Settle in and prepare for the overnight journey to Seattle, Washington. Overnight train.

Day 12 - Arrive Seattle

Arrive in Seattle around 9:30 pm and check into your centrally-located hotel. Overnight Seattle.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 13 - Empire Builder to Glacier National Park

Spend the day exploring more of Seattle, visiting one of its many incredible museums, or taking a ferry cruise on Puget Sound until your late afternoon Empire Builder train departure for Glacier National Park. Overnight train.

  • Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 14 - Arrive Glacier National Park

Arrive in Glacier National Park mid-morning and check into your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring the Park on your own, taking in the wildlife and all the gorgeous scenery including mountains and breathtaking glaciers. Spanning more than 1.2 million acres of lakes and waterfalls, dramatic peaks and breathtaking ice-carved glaciers, all the majesty of Glacier National Park is at your fingertips. The next two nights will be spent at Glacier Park Lodge, where you will experience the western charm of this historic lodge. Modeled after a Swiss chalet, the heated outdoor swimming pool and nine-hole golf course make for a spectacular retreat. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge.

  • Breakfast (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 15 - Exploring the Park

Today embark on an inclusive tour of Glacier National Park that starts with a morning drive over Marias Pass, with wildlife viewing at Goat Lick and a stop at the historic Izaak Walton Inn. After an optional lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge, tour the rich cedar and hemlock forests that lie within the Lake McDonald Valley. Ascend to the high alpine region of the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Logan Pass and down into the St. Mary Valley, stopping at the Wild Goose Island overlook for another incredible photo opportunity. Your excursion concludes with grand vistas of grassland, prairie, and mountains as you arrive back at Glacier Park Lodge. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge.

Day 16 - Empire Builder to Chicago

Begin your journey home as you board the Empire Builder mid-morning. Take time to reflect on your amazing travels, socialize with fellow passengers or wind down and relax in the Sightseer Lounge. Overnight train.

  • Lunch, Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 17 - Arrive Chicago

Arrive at Chicago's Union Station late this afternoon where your Canyons, Glaciers & Waterfalls vacation comes to an end.

  • Breakfast, Lunch (Sleeping Car passengers only)

Additional information

Pricing Plans

Amtrak accommodations are available in Coach class, Roomette, and Bedroom.

Coach accommodations include a reclining seat with leg rest.

Roomette accommodations include a private cabin featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting to an upper and lower berth at night.

Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day, and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower.
All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge. 

Roomette and Bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train. Sleeping car passengers aboard the  Southwest Chief enjoy meals in the train's Dining car. New contemporary and fresh dining choices replace traditional dining car service on the  Capitol Limited. Sleeping car passengers may elect to have a chilled prepared meal selection delivered to your Roomette or Bedroom or enjoy meals in a private cafe or lounge car. 

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Palmer House Hilton, Chicago

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Glacier Park Lodge, East Glacier Park

Glacier Park Lodge, East Glacier Park

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Maswik Lodge - Grand Canyon Lodges, Grand Canyon National Park

Maswik Lodge - Grand Canyon Lodges, Grand Canyon National Park

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Sheraton in Los Angeles Downtown, Los Angeles

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Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

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Westin, Seattle

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Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, Williams

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, Williams

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Amtrak's Empire Builder
Amtrak's Southwest Chief
Amtrak's Coast Starlight
Grand Canyon Railway

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4.0 stars4.0 / 5 · 2 reviews

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  5. 1 star


4 stars

Submitted 22 Aug 2023

Scheduling of train arrivals to next day touring dates needed to be adjusted... Every leg of the Amtrak transporting had several major delays, causing missed or hurried turn arounds for touring. And the attention to customer service was not as good as I remembered it to be, had I not been a lite sleeper, I would not gotten off at Flagstaff at 2am, cause the porter missed that assignment. But the worst of the trip were the accommodations at East Glacier Lodge, no tv, no coffee service in the room and the bathroom did little to accommodate the hooks for clothing or towels, the shower was a little bit larger than a old telephone booth.

from Vacations By Rail
Thank you for taking the time to provide your detailed feedback. We regret to hear that some portions of the vacation were not up to expectations. We passed this information along to our product team to help improve this trip. We hope you consider traveling with us again.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

Tom C, De Soto, MO

4 stars

Submitted 08 Feb 2018

We received excellent assistance from our VBR representative who assisted us with our vacation plans... Overall, we received exceptional service on the train and at the train stations. Also, we had a very pleasant experience at the hotels, restaurants, planned sightseeing trips and taxi service.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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