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Colorado To California
Trains & Treasures
Tourist / railfan tour
July 23 - August 5, 2016
This tour will visit Colorado, California, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada linked by one of the most scenic Amtrak rides in the country, narrow gauge railroads, articulated and geared steam locomotives, interesting railroad museums, stunning scenery and some great towns and cities for a varied railroad and scenic tour. The tour will undoubtedly appeal to railfans, particularly those with a special interest in narrow gauge. It is also a great way to see Colorado and San Francisco, with an itinerary that offers a balanced program of scenic train rides and general touring. The ladies have not been forgotten with ample time for sightseeing and shopping in locations from old gold mining towns to fabulous cities.
Day 1 Saturday July 23:
Arrive in Denver today. You will be met and transferred to the downtown Crown Plaza hotel. The rest of the day and evening on your own to relax. The hotel will be within walking distance of many shops and other attractions right downtown. For railfans, Denver has a 47 mile long standard gauge light rail system to explore. Opened in 1994, it has 172 vehicles serving 6 lines and 46 stations.
Day 2 Sunday July 24: (L-D)
Visit the Colorado Railroad Museum in nearby Golden. This museum is full of wonderful Colorado Narrow Gauge history and rolling stock, the best railroad museum in Colorado. A narrow gauge steam train operates around the museum grounds, sometimes with a Shay geared locomotive. We will leave the museum around mid-day to return to Denver, stopping at a famous model railroad hobby store called "Caboose Hobbies". This is possibly the largest model railroad and railroad historic hobby store in the USA, worth a visit for anyone interested in railways with thousands upon thousands of railroad models. They also stock just about every book on railroads, including narrow gauge and geared locomotives. Depart from the hobby store mid-afternoon and head south for Colorado Springs, about 90 minutes away in our comfortable, air conditioned buses. Hotel check-in at the Garden of the Gods Quality Inn & Suites. There will be a welcome dinner.
Day 3 Monday July 25: (B)
After breakfast, visit the Garden of the Gods rock formations on the way to the railway station. The Garden of the Gods Park features dramatic rock formations that have a long history of Native American occupation. Continue to the Manitou and Pike's Peak Cog Railway, where you will ride the rack railway through spectacular scenery to the top of Pike's Peak and back down to Manitou Springs, arriving at lunch time. There will be free time in downtown Manitou Springs for lunch and a little window shopping at the many unique shops. Leave Manitou Springs after lunch for the one hour bus ride to Canon City where you will climb aboard the train for a journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. Since 1879, these tracks have followed the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring, 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado's Royal Gorge. After our train ride we continue on to Alamosa and hotel check-in at The Best Western Alamosa Inn.
Day 4 Tuesday July 26: (B-L)
This morning, motor to Antonito for a narrow gauge steam excursion on the well-known Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to Chama in New Mexico. The train departs at 10:00AM and arrives in Chama at 4:05PM with lunch at Osier, where the two opposing trains meet. This is an iconic American steam train ride, on the wish-list of most rail enthusiasts. The Cumbres & Toltec Railroad and the Durango & Silverton Railroad, which we will ride later, were both part of the same narrow gauge system. Our ride today will take us through rugged scenery for an authentic 1950's narrow gauge steam railroad experience. Overnight in Chama at the Branding Iron Motel.
Day 5 Wednesday July 27: (L)
After breakfast, visit to the railroad yards to watch the crew prepare the steam locomotive for a 10:00AM departure. We will follow the train up the steep grade to Cumbres Summit, even with a bus we will be able to catch the train at 5 or 6 locations for some great photography. Once the train arrives at Cumbres Summit we continue by coach to Durango, Colorado, arriving mid-afternoon. After checking in to your hotel there will be an opportunity to travel north out of Durango to photograph the southbound Durango & Silverton Railroad trains. You will be able to catch at least two southbound trains and maybe all three at 6 or 7 different locations. Alternatively, remain at the Best Western Rio Grande hotel or explore Durango's downtown shops.
Day 6 Thursday July 28: (B)
We will board the first steam train of the day which leaves Durango shortly after breakfast and arrives in Silverton before lunch having passed through the dramatic Animas Canyon. Being on the first train gives us the opportunity to photograph the second and even the third train which arrives at 1:00PM. A few miles south of Silverton is a scenic bridge over the river where we can get some interesting track-side photos. The Durango & Silverton Railroad shares a special place with the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad as the two iconic narrow gauge steam railways of the American west. You will ride both of them and have opportunities for line-siding and photography. There is a railway museum in the old Silverton station building. We will depart Silverton on our coach early this afternoon and continue north to the Red Mountain Pass and the "Million Dollar Highway" to the colorful Swiss style town of Ouray for a short break before motoring to Ridgeway to visit the small but interesting Ridgeway Railroad Museum that represents the history of the Rio Grande Southern Railway. From there, it is a short drive to Montrose and hotel check-in at the Holiday Inn Express.
Day 7 Friday July 29: (B-L)
Depart on our coach for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, a spectacular canyon that will offer a break from riding trains. Leave the national park at noon for a short drive to Cimarron where we will drive to the bottom of the Black Canyon for a picnic alongside the Gunnison River. Leave Cimarron early this afternoon for Georgetown Colorado, an old mining town high in the Rockies where we will overnight at the Super 8 Georgetown.
Day 8 Saturday July 30: (B)
This morning, ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Most trains on this railway between Silver Plume and Georgetown are pulled by a geared Shay steam locomotive. Alternatively, head to Georgetown downtown to explore the many shops, art galleries and antique shops. After your train ride, visit the old wild-west mining town of Georgetown for lunch before an afternoon drive back to Denver and check in at the Crown Plaza Hotel downtown.
Day 9 Sunday July 31: (L-D)
Board Amtrak's westbound California Zephyr which departs Denver at 8:05AM for the journey west to California. You will be booked in sleeper class for this trip through the heart of the Colorado Rockies, across Utah, Nevada and over Donner Pass in the High Sierra. Soon after Denver, pass under the continental divide at 9,239 feet in the Moffat tunnel and travel along side the Colorado river. In the evening, stretch your legs during the service stop at Salt Lake City before skirting the Great Salt Lake at night. This is considered the most scenic Amtrak train ride in the USA, you will love it!
Day 10 Monday August 1: (B-L)
In Wake up to the Nevada desert east of Reno as the CZ speeds west toward California. You can stretch your legs at Reno if you like. Shortly departing the "Biggest Little City in the World" we start the climb up the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Departing Truckee the train tackles the steepest section of the railroad and then passing under the massive Sierra in a 10,322-foot tunnel at about 7,000 feet. Arrive in Emeryville, on the East side of San Francisco Bay, at 4:10PM. A 10 mile bus transfer will take you over to San Francisco for check-in to your hotel at The Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf. Within a few blocks of your hotel are many interesting gift shops, art galleries and museums.
Day 11 Tuesday August 2: (B-L)
We start the day by riding San Francisco's BART, modern Muni trams and heritage trams from many cities on the line to Fisherman's wharf, as well as the famous cable cars. This is the most rail friendly city in California. Alternatively, relax at Fisherman's Wharf. End your day by catching a Cal Train Railroad commuter train from San Francisco to Santa Clara which is the stop just before San Jose. Our hotel, The Mission Inn is walking distance from the train station. If you like after check-in you can watch the trains go by.
Day 12 Wednesday August 3: (B)
This morning, we travel from Santa Clara to Felton to ride the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad which operates a fleet of narrow gauge geared steam locomotives. This exciting train ride deep into the redwood trees will be followed by a workshop visit. After lunch, leave Felton on our charter coach for the historic village of Jamestown, where we will spend the night. Upon arrival we will first pay a visit to the historic "Railtown 1897 Historic State Park. This was the workshops for the Sierra Railroad before becoming a museum. This park is a unique treasure trove of preserved railroad buildings, equipment, locomotives and railroad cars.As the railways freight-hauling days were ending, the Sierra Railway was still being used for Hollywood movie productions. It had everything—a ruggedly perfect "Old West" landscape, miles of tracks and a wealth of very old trains. Film producers the world over clamored to use this special location. Between 1919 and the present, the Sierra Railroad would "star" in more than 200 motion pictures, television programs and commercials—including High Noon, Back to the Future III, Rawhide, and Death Valley Days. . One of the highlights of Railtown 1897 the guided walking tour of the Park's authentic, working railroad roundhouse. You will experience the locomotive repair area and view historic locomotives and cars in storage or undergoing repairs. Of interest is 3-truck Shay No. 2 Built in 1922 by Lima. Another highlight of the Roundhouse is the opportunity to view movie props and other artifacts used in the production of feature films, TV shows, and commercials. One of the most popular of these is the mock-up of an 1880s railroad caboose used in filming for "Back to the Future III." Other items of interest include fake "rocks," background scenery, and numerous small-town station signs. After our visit we then check-in to the Jamestown Railtown Motel.
Day 13 Thursday August 4: (B)
Early morning we head for Yosemite National Park where we will explore the points of interest. This afternoon we will stop at Fish Camp just outside of the national park to ride the Yosemite Sugar Pine Mountain Railroad, which has geared steam locomotives. After our visit, board our charter coach to return to Santa Clara and check-in at the Mission Inn. Again, you can watch and photograph the many CalTrain commuter trains. We have a farewell party planned for you in the evening at the former Southern Pacific Santa Clara historic train station. This station is now the home of the Central Coast Railroad Club and the South Bay Historical Railroad Club and model railroad layout. We have arranged to have the station open so that you can enjoy the railroad displays and the operating model railroad. This will be a fun and relaxed evening to look back at our tour and enjoy the company of other local railfans that you can meet and talk to.
Day 14 Friday August 5: (B)
Your tour ends with a transfer to the San Francisco International Airport. If you like you can ride one of the CalTrain commuter trains from Santa Clara to the airport or ride our charter motorcoach. Alternatively, spend a few more days in the San Francisco Bay Area.
ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON
|DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY PER PERSON........................||$4,895|
|SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT............................................||$895|
|DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED ...........................||$1,000|
|final payment due by april 23, 2016|
|* 19 meals|
|* All road transfers|
|* 13 night's lodging 9 Meals|
|* Amtrak California Zephyr in sleeper class|
|* All train tickets, attraction and museum entry|
|as described in the program|
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY per person$4,895
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$895
Deposit to hold space confirmed$1,000
final payment due by april 23, 2016
* 19 meals
* all road transfers
* 13 nights lodging 9 meals
* amtrak california zephyr in sleeper class
* all train tickets, attractions and museum entry as described in the program