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Great Parks of the Southwest featuring the Grand Canyon

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4.6 stars(60 reviews)
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Discover the scenic southwestern U.S. on this 10-day rail tour through Canyon Country to five national parks.

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10 days From $3,495 per person
Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

2023 Tour code: RM-GPSA-23

About the tour

Discover the natural wonders and rugged wilderness of the Southwest on this scenic rail tour through Canyon Country. This tour has it all: amazing national parks, classic train journeys, and spectacular sightseeing and excursions.

Travel aboard the Southwest Chief to Flagstaff, where your Southwest adventure begins. Continue by deluxe motorcoach to Williams for an excursion aboard the vintage railcars of the Grand Canyon Railway to Grand Canyon National Park for a 2-night stay at the South Rim of the Canyon.

That's just the beginning! Visit Lake Powell and Kanab, known as "Little Hollywood" for the high number of Western TV shows and movies filmed in the area. Explore Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks and learn about the history and iconic features of each on guided tours. Take a jetboat ride along the Colorado River for a new perspective of Utah's red rock cliffs and breathtaking scenery. 

Iconic sites, unique experiences and five beloved national parks and make this a southwestern adventure to remember!

Highlights

Activity level Natural Explorer

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You don’t mind spending the day on your feet. You enjoy sightseeing that includes walking, standing or stair climbing. You’re okay with longer days that are more active, such as multiple sightseeing stops, longer motorcoach journeys and getting on and off ships and trains.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart Chicago aboard the Southwest Chief

Arrive at Chicago Union Station and board the Southwest Chief. Settle into your onboard accommodations and prepare for your overnight rail journey. Travelers may elect to travel from Los Angeles or points in-between and meet your tour manager in Flagstaff on Day 2. Overnight train.

Day 2 - Southwest Chief to Flagstaff

Enjoy spectacular scenery from the comfort of your onboard accommodations, the Sightseer Lounge, or over a meal in the Dining Car as you travel to Flagstaff. Upon arrival, we'll board our waiting motorcoach and transfer to our hotel. Overnight Flagstaff, AZ.

Day 3 - Grand Canyon National Park

This morning we travel by motorcoach to Williams, AZ, where we board the Grand Canyon Railway for the 90-minute journey to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We arrive in Grand Canyon Village in time for sightseeing and lunch on your own. In the afternoon, travel along the South Rim to the Desert Watchtower viewpoint. We return to Canyon Village Area for two nights lodging in Grand Canyon National Park. Overnight Grand Canyon, AZ. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Grand Canyon at Leisure

Enjoy a day at leisure to discover Grand Canyon National Park. The park's complimentary shuttle buses pick-up right outside our rustic lodge and take you on tours around the park. Hop on and off at those stops you want to explore at greater length. Also, you might like to take a Ranger Talk or trail walk along the South Rim or take the shuttle west to Hermit's Rest viewpoint. Your tour manager can assist you with suggestions. Overnight Grand Canyon, AZ.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Lake Powell

After breakfast, we leave Grand Canyon National Park for Page, Arizona. As we head north out of the park, we stop at the Cameron Trading Post before having a delightful lunch in the Wahweap Lodge Rainbow Room. Our next stop is Kanab, Utah, known by locals as "Little Hollywood" due to its history as a filming location for many western movies and television series including Stagecoach, The Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke. Overnight Kanab, UT. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6 - Zion National Park

Today we travel to Zion National Park, taking the Mount Carmel Tunnel, built in 1931, into the park. There will be time for lunch on your own at Zion Lodge before an afternoon guided tram tour. We will learn the geological history of Utah's first national park as we see the most stunning aspects of the Park, making several stops along the way for pictures and short walks. After touring the park, there is free time to explore on your own before departing the park from the east gate. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep along the sandstone slopes! Overnight Kanab, UT. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Bryce Canyon National Park / Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

We depart Kanab this morning and drive down Long Valley on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park. There is time for lunch on your own before our tour of the park. The pink rocks of Bryce were formed by the sediments of an ancient lake. The hoodoos and spires of the canyon seem to stand erect as if mimicking people frozen in time. We leave Bryce Canyon for a drive through one of the newest monuments in the parks system, Grand Staircase-Escalante, which consists of 1.9 million acres of wilderness cut by the Paria and Escalante Rivers. We will stop for panoramic pictures as well as at the Ranger Station to learn about the establishment of this area. Our day continues with the drive to Torrey, Utah for our overnight. The views from our hotel are breathtaking. Overnight Torrey, UT. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Capitol Reef National Park

We depart Torrey this morning and travel to Capitol Reef National Park. This remote and little-visited area of Utah is a pristine wilderness and is famous for its Navajo Sandstone that erodes into dome-like structures that resemble our nation's capital. We will stop at the park Visitor Center first and then make two stops at spectacular viewpoints for pictures and to see some ancient ancestral Pueblo petroglyphs. Next, we head to Green River, Utah, for lunch before continuing to Moab. Overnight Moab, UT. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 9 - Arches National Park / Colorado River Jetboat Ride

Today begins with a tour of Arches National Park. This rugged area contains the largest concentration of sandstone arches, fins, spires and balancing rocks. The scenery is spectacular-be sure to bring your camera! After a delicious lunch, we will board our Jetboat to travel down the calm water section of the Colorado River (subject to river water levels). Moab is one of the few places where you can access the Colorado River along its 1,450-mile route to the sea. Enjoy the beauty of the wilderness as we float leisurely down the red rock cliffs that mark the southern boundary of Arches National Park. We return to our hotel this evening and gather with fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner. Overnight Moab, UT. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 - Tour Conclusion

Your National Parks journey concludes after breakfast today. A group transfer to Grand Junction Amtrak Station or Grand Junction Airport will accommodate trains departing after 10:00 a.m. (Amtrak schedule permitting) and planes departing after 1:00 p.m. 

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

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.

Hotels

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff

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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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Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kanab

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kanab

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SpringHill Suites Moab

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Capitol Reef Resort, Torrey

Capitol Reef Resort, Torrey

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Trains

Amtrak's Southwest Chief
Grand Canyon Railway

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Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 60 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (38)
  2. 4 stars
    (22)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Shellye

4 stars

Submitted 06 Oct 2022

This was a great escorted, rail/bus trip. Most meals were included and accomodations were excellent. Included two nice boats rides too.

Collected by Trustpilot

CATHY PEARLMAN

5 stars

Submitted 06 Oct 2022

I had a great time on this trip! Our group leader, Mary Klepper was awesome!! She was organized, knowledgeable and funny! Our bus driver, Michael, was also a lot of fun! I very much enjoyed the camaraderie of the people in the group, as this was my first group trip. If I were to book another trip through VBR, I would absolutely try to get Mary as the group leader again. She really made the trip very relaxing and so much more fun.

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DANIEL BOWMAN

5 stars

Submitted 06 Oct 2022

Great tour guide and driver

Collected by Trustpilot

JOSEPHINE HAYDEN

5 stars

Submitted 03 Oct 2022

My dream vacation

Collected by Trustpilot

Ellen for Arthur

5 stars

Submitted 02 Oct 2022

The tour director was fantastic! Every aspect of the trip was well managed. She was enthusiastic, engaging and helpful. We had great tours of 5 National Parks and we enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and special events including the boat tour of Lake Powell and the river cruise on the Colorado River. Well done!

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ANTHONY CETTA

4 stars

Submitted 02 Oct 2022

The Amtrak experience was horrible. There was no observation car on the 31 hour journey. The sleeping accomodations ( roomette) were unacceptable and a refund should be applied. We did NOT receive the services that were advertised!!

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