Watch as the Wild West comes to life with two heritage rail excursions, a memorable drive along Route 66 and visits to some of the country’s most awe-inspiring sites.
About the Tour
Watch as the Wild West comes to life on this 9-day tour. Explore the hottest and driest destination in the United States, Death Valley National Park, and see one of the universe’s most awe-inspiring sites, the Grand Canyon. Travel by train on the Grand Canyon Railway and by deluxe motorcoach along historic Route 66. One amazing adventure after the next awaits!
The tour kicks off with a day in Las Vegas before moving onto Death Valley. Desert landscapes and fascinating points of interest are highlighted during our guided tour of the park. Enjoy Rhyolite ghost town, Badwater Basin, Harmony Borax Museum and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, amongst other sites. Continuing through the region, feel a tug at your heartstrings at the Manzanar National Monument and explore the eerie surroundings of Randsburg ghost town. It would not be a trip through the West without a journey down Route 66, and we do just that en route to Williams, AZ. It is here that we board the famous Grand Canyon Railway in pursuit of some of the most awe-inspiring views on the planet from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In addition to exploring the Canyon, enjoy a jeep tour through the surrounding backcountry, a visit to Jerome ghost town and a first-class ride aboard the Verde Canyon Railway. Heading back into the city, a trolley tour of Sedona is the perfect conclusion to this comprehensive trip.
- Two scenic rail excursions: Grand Canyon Railway and Verde Canyon Railroad
- Hotel accommodations for 8 nights
- 11 meals
- Death Valley National Park, including Zabriskie Point and Badwater Basin
- Discover Old West ghost towns in Rhyolite, Randsburg and Jerome
- See the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
- Visit Manzanar National Monument
- Discover the Grand Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Natural Wonders of the World
- Jeep tour into Arizona’s backcountry
- Sedona trolley tour, including a stop at Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Baggage handling
Day 1 - Las Vegas
Arrive in Las Vegas, and transfer to your hotel, which is conveniently located on the Las Vegas strip. The remainder of your day is at leisure to get acquainted with Sin City. Meet your tour manager in the lobby between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Overnight Las Vegas, NV.
Day 2 - Death Valley National Park
Today, we leave the lights of the city behind as we board our motorcoach and travel to Death Valley National Park in California. As we enter the park, we get our first view of the unique landscape from Zabriskie Point. This lookout offers views of the undulating landscape, the salt plains, the surrounding mountains and the beautiful colors of Golden Canyon. We continue to the visitor’s center, where there are interesting exhibits about Death Valley, as well as an introductory film that provides information about the park. Our final stop on the way to our hotel is Badwater Basin, an expansive salt basin that is the lowest point of elevation in all of North America at 282 feet below sea level. There is a small pool of water here, which gave the basin its name. The salt content in the water is so high that it cannot be ingested, and nothing can survive in it - thus making it “bad water.” We will see this pool in addition to a 5-mile stretch of flat desert land that is so thickly covered in salt deposits that it looks like a winter scene. We enjoy dinner at the hotel. Overnight Death Valley National Park. (B, D)
Day 3 - Death Valley National Park Tour
After breakfast, we enjoy a day of touring in and around Death Valley National Park. Our first stop is the Harmony Borax Museum, where we see the remains of the old borax mine and plant and learn about how settlers battled the torrid landscape to make life work in Death Valley. Next, we visit Rhyolite ghost town, which was once a booming mining town filled with life. All that remains now is the train depot, the unique bottle house that was restored by Paramount Pictures and the exterior walls of some of the buildings. Just past Rhyolite is the Goldwell Outdoor Museum, where a collection of art installations created by Belgian artists add a unique touch to the desert surroundings. The scenery changes once again as we visit the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. This location is one of the few sandy areas within Death Valley National Park and was created by the deterioration of the surrounding canyons. Here, see sand dunes that reach up to 100 feet high and are formed by nature into star, linear and crescent shapes. We return to our hotel following the excursion and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Death Valley National Park. (B, L)
Day 4 - Manzanar National Monument
Our journey takes us out of Death Valley today and into Owen’s Valley in Eastern California - a valley that is framed by the Sierra Nevada, White and Inyo Mountains. As we arrive in the valley, we stop at Manzanar National Monument - a somber reminder of World War II’s impact on the United States. This landmark site is home to the remains of the region’s Japanese Internment Camps. We watch a short film about the history of Manzanar and then have a chance to walk through the reconstructed mess hall and barracks; to see the remains of Japanese gardens, ponds, buildings and orchards; and to explore the artifacts. We continue to Randsburg ghost town, which is truly one of a kind in that it is a living ghost town. See the remains of the Old West town’s gold rush past while hearing the stories of historians and checking out the local businesses, which include a museum, some antique stores, a general store with a 1904 soda fountain and a couple of bars. Back on our motorcoach, we settle in for the last stretch of the day’s journey to our hotel in Barstow, CA. The evening is yours to relax. Overnight Barstow, CA. (B)
Day 5 - Route 66
No trip through the West is complete without traveling historic Route 66, and that is just what we do today! Barstow is conveniently located right on the iconic byway and is chock-full of motels and historic sites that highlight the glory days of Route 66. Just as travelers in the heyday of Route 66, we pass through unique arid landscapes and charming towns as we travel toward our destination. We make stops in Oatman, AZ, an Old West mining town that is now home to historic buildings and wild Burros that serve as a reminder of the town’s booming past, and Seligman, AZ, a town filled with old fashioned Americana and a story so inspiring it was retold in the Disney movie “Cars.” We arrive in Williams, AZ this afternoon and have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore this iconic Route 66 town, which is also the gateway to the mighty Grand Canyon. Overnight Williams, AZ. (B)
Day 6 - The Grand Canyon
All aboard the Grand Canyon Railway this morning for a ride to remember. This 65-mile journey takes us from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in just over two hours. We follow the same route the train did in 1901 when it was first opened. Along the way, the unique landscapes of the Colorado Plateau are on display, and we enjoy views of lush evergreen forests and wide expanses of prairie land. Upon arrival at the Grand Canyon, marvel at the beauty of this worldly wonder before boarding our deluxe motorcoach and following one of the most scenic routes in Grand Canyon National Park, Desert View Drive. This roadway includes 25 miles of breathtaking canyon scenes and includes numerous historic and scenic points of interest. Exiting the park, continue through Flagstaff and on to Sedona, our home for the next three nights. Overnight Sedona, AZ. (B)
Day 7 - Jeep Tour/Verde Canyon Railroad
Get your fill at breakfast this morning - you are in for a day of adventure. Begin with a Jeep tour through the Sedona’s surrounding backcountry. The red sandstone formations in the region are magnificent and include cliffs, towers and mesas. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you weave through the rugged landscape. Following the Jeep tour, we visit the unique town of Jerome - another ghost town that was once a mining metropolis. Today, the abandoned reminders of the town’s copper-, silver- and gold-boom past sit aside a thriving community of artists. Weathered old buildings and mining structures mingle with galleries, shops and restaurants, making this destination one to remember. The final stop of the day is in Clarksville, AZ, where we board the Verde Canyon Railway. As first-class passengers we enjoy comfortable living room-style seating and take in the views of Verde Canyon from large picture windows. The 40-mile round trip journey follows the rim of the canyon before descending to the bottom, where the train travels along the green waters of the Verde River. Canopied by lush foliage, the views from the bottom are quite different than what one might expect in Arizona. The train makes a stop in Perkinsville, where the route changes direction and you get yet another look at the flora and fauna that make this canyon so beautiful. As we return to Sedona this evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Sedona, AZ. (B, D)
Day 8 - Sedona
Get acquainted with Sedona today on our trolley tour of the city. The ride highlights Sedona’s neighborhoods, including the Tlaquepaque’s Art District, as well as the splendor of the rugged, red landscape. The tour ends at the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross church, which is a 1950s-era Roman Catholic church that was built into the sandstone cliffs of Sedona. As we arrive back in town, the remainder of the day is yours at leisure. Perhaps take a hike on one of the surrounding trails or check out the local art scene. This evening, we meet at a local restaurant for our farewell dinner. Overnight Sedona, AZ. (B, D)
Day 9 - Tour Conclusion
Following breakfast this morning, the group is transferred to the airport in Phoenix, where this Old West expedition concludes. The transfer accommodates flights that depart after 1:00 p.m. (B)
Hotel Accommodations include the Luxor Hotel (Las Vegas), Inn at Death Valley or Ranch at Death Valley (Death Valley), Ayres Hotel (Barstow), Grand Canyon Railway Hotel (Williams) and Hampton Inn (Sedona).
Grand Canyon Railway
Ride along 65 miles of track between Williams, AZ, and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. Like many heritage trains in the West, this historic line had its beginnings hauling metal ore. The inaugural ride was in September of 1901, and soon the rail line became a major attraction for tourists, as the train ride shortened the journey to the Grand Canyon. Today, this incredible 2-hour journey offers its own taste of the old-world romance of train travel through the Wild West.
Verde Canyon Railroad
Follow the winding path of the Verde River from Clarksdale, AZ, to Perkins on the Verde Canyon Railroad. This railway is a marvel of engineering, with a route that was carved through a mountain and along the canyon 110 years ago. The 20-mile route travels at a leisurely pace, highlighting the rugged beauty of Arizona from fully restored FP7 locomotives. In all, the journey to the ghost town of Perkins and back takes approximately 4 hours.
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