|TRAINS & TRAVEL|
P.O. BOX 312
PORTOLA, CALIFORNIA 96122
Chris@traintrips.biz Rail Tours Manager. For questions regarding tour itineraries and details.
1-800 359-4870 USA|
1-800 752-1836 CANADA
1-800 266-8751 FAX
We invite you to join us for a grand fall colors tour that includes some of the most awesome scenery and train rides in the four corners states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Our tour begins and ends in Denver, Colorado. The Southwestern states have the most National Parks, breathtaking scenery and spectacular train rides in the United States. Our tour will present to you 13 train rides using steam-diesel-railcars, in all four states and we will explore 10 National Parks and a number of National Monuments. There is so much to see and do in these four states and we have put together a very detailed tour to offer you the best of this region of the United States on this 17 day tour.
If you cannot spend 17 days with us we are offering options to take a partial tour. A very good point to depart or join our tour is in Flagstaff, Arizona on Day 10 October 10. Flagstaff is served by US Airlines and Amtrak. If you would like to design your own option that best fits your needs please contact us for a custom price for you.
DAY 1 FRIDAY OCTOBER 1: Independent arrivals in Denver and hotel check-in. For those folks who arrive in Denver early in the day we invite you to join us for a ride on the Platte Valley Trolley which will afford you great views of downtown Denver. Then we pay a visit to the Forney Transportation Museum. This museum has a one-of-a-kind collection of over 500 exhibits relating to historical transportation. It began with antique cars, but soon expanded to include vehicles of all kinds including a Union Pacific Big Boy, the largest steam locomotive to ever be built. The museum's motto is : Anything on Wheels! If you want to join us on the trolley ride and the museum visit, you will need to meet at our hotel in downtown Denver at 11:00AM. If you would like to arrive in Denver a day early we can arrange a room for you at the Sheraton Denver Hotel located downtown.
DAY 2 SATURDAY OCTOBER 2: (B-D) In the morning we pay a visit to the famous Colorado Railroad Museum located in nearby Golden. This is the most extensive railroad museum in Colorado and has many fine pieces of railroad history and displays.
After our visit we travel to the historic mining town of Georgetown. The first settlers came to the Georgetown area in 1859 and were members of a mining party that decided to settle in the area. On January 28, 1868 the Territorial Legislature passed a law incorporating the "Town of Georgetown". Also the Georgetown Loop Railroad brings Colorado history to life in a fun adventure for everyone. The beauty of the rugged Rocky Mountains surrounds you, as an old-time steam locomotive or one of the powerful diesel locomotives winds up the Clear Creek canyon passing the remains of several gold and silver mines. After our train ride we continue on to Leadville by highway and check-in at the historic Delaware Hotel which was built in 1886. In the evening we will host our "Welcome to Colorado Dinner"
DAY 3 SUNDAY OCTOBER 3: (CB-L) We will have the morning hours to explore colorful downtown Leadville. The Leadville, Colorado area could be said to be the center of Colorado's history. Fortunes were made from the rich mineral deposits of the area, and legends were built from the colorful people who made Leadville their home. Not only is Leadville the highest incorporated city in the U.S., it is also one of Colorado's largest historic districts. This town is a National Historic Landmark District consisting of over 70 square blocks, and was designated by Congress in 1966. It's a beautiful and interesting area for a short walk anytime of year. This historic mining town is tucked away in a magnificent alpine valley at the base of the state's highest peak.
After exploring downtown Leadville we all board the 10AM train for a run up into the high country to a little mining area called "Climax". The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad takes passengers along the old Denver, South Park & Pacific and Colorado & Southern lines to the Continental Divide. This journey is full of breath-taking panoramas across the Arkansas River Valley and through the untamed wilderness of the San Isabel National Forest. Enjoy humorous narratives about Leadville's colorful past, like legends such as Molly Brown, Augusta and Baby Doe Tabor and Doc Holiday.
Early afternoon, we depart from the Leadville region by highway and head southeast traveling through beautiful Rocky Mountain countryside including Trout Creek Pass and Wilkerson Pass.
As we make our way to the mining town of Cripple Creek, we pass unique Florrissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lies one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide, and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of a very different, prehistoric Colorado. Almost 35 million years ago, enormous volcanic eruptions buried the then-lush valley and petrified the redwood trees that grew there.
Just a few miles away is the historic mining district of Cripple Creek. This city is located at the base of Pikes Peak, and is at an elevation of 9,494 feet. In 1890, a rich deposit of gold ore was discovered and one of the largest gold strikes in history was on. In just three years the population increased from 500 to 10,000 and over By 2005 731 tons of gold was produced in this district and mining continues today.
After exploring this historic mining town we all jump onboard the steam train for a four mile roundtrip on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad , which will reveal scenic wonders around every curve as century-old steam locomotive transports us back to the colorful gold mining days. After our visit to Cripple Creek we travel to Colorado Springs check-in at the Quality Inn Garden of the Gods.
DAY 4 MONDAY OCTOBER 4: (CB-L) In the morning we first visit Garden of the Gods rock formations near Colorado Springs before boarding the cog railcars on the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway for the steep 3 ¼ hour climb to the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet. This is the highest cog railway in the World. If it is a clear day you can see for hundreds of miles in all directions. We will have 40 minutes at the Summit to take photos, explore and have a snack or hot drink at the café before we start down the mountain. Once back at the base station, we head south to Canon City, gateway to spectacular Royal Gorge. We will board the afternoon excursion for a 24 mile roundtrip through this 1000 foot deep gorge running along the Arkansas River. Upon arrival back in Canon City, we travel by highway to Montrose for hotel check-in at the Quality Inn.
DAY 5 TUESDAY OCTOBER 5: (B-L) We visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Black Canyon is unique in the respect that for hundreds of years early explorers avoided it because of the ruggedness.
After our visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, we move on to Ridgway, birthplace of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad Museum and now home to the Ridgway Railroad Museum. This museum is preserving railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books and photographs of railroading in Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Just a few miles south of Ridgway is the delightful town of Ouray This small intimate community is nestled in some of the most rugged and towering peaks of the Rockies. Set at the narrow head of a valley and surrounded on three sides with 13,000 feet snowcapped peaks - Ouray has been eloquently nicknamed the "Switzerland of America." In 1873, the famous Ute Chief, Ouray, signed a government treaty releasing the Ute's treasured San Juan Mountains to encroaching settlers. The town, officially incorporated in 1876, was named in his honor. By 1888, the town would celebrate the arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
After our visit to Ouray, we continue south for a ride on what is called the "Million Dollar Highway", which runs out of Ouray for 12 miles and up into the rugged Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass, at 11,018 feet. This stretch through the gorge is spectacular with it's steep cliffs and lanes cut directly into the sides of mountains as the elevation is gained to reach the summit. During this ascent, the remains of the massive Idarado Mine are visible along with many other mines on the mountainside. The origin of the name "Million Dollar Highway" is disputed. There are several legends of its origin from "it cost a million dollars a mile" to build in the 1920's to it contains "a million dollars" in gold ore, in the fill dirt. The original portion of the Million Dollar Highway was a toll road built in 1883 to connect Ouray and Ironton. We continue south down into the wild west town of Silverton. You will have time to explore this famous town before boarding the "Silverton" steam train for the run to Durango.
Now it is time to step back in time and history! The famous Silverton narrow gauge steam train entered Silverton in 1882, and then was operated by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway. For the past 124 years this line has been in continuous operation using vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock. Your journey southbound will take you through the remote Animas River Canyon to Durango, a distance of 45 miles. Upon arrival in Durango, check-in at the Hotel Strater in the historic downtown area. This hotel was built in 1887 and is listed in the "Historic Hotels of America". Evening at your own leisure to explore Durango.
DAY 6 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 6: (CB-D) Morning hours to explore Durango. For those folks in the tour group that would enjoy taking some trackside photos of the morning Silverton train departing from Durango we will use one of our vans to follow this train for 15 miles north of town. Upon our return to Durango we will check-out and depart for a visit to Mesa Verde National Park which has the best preserved natural Indian ruins from the Anasazi Tribe in North America. After our visit we then travel to Pagosa Springs, Colorado and hotel check-in at the High Country Lodge.
DAY 7 THURSDAY OCTOBER 7: (CB-L) In the morning we travel from Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico which will take 1 hour. Here we board the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic railroad for the steep climb from Chama, New Mexico up to Cumbres Pass and on to Antonito, Colorado. Built 128 years ago and little changed since, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a fully operational steam railroad jointly owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico. This railroad is recognized around the world for its spectacular scenery and unspoiled vistas, as well as the historic rolling stock and railroad structures that are preserved on the line. This is America's highest narrow gauge railroad reaching Cumbres Summit at 10,015 feet. Once in Antonito, we transfer across the platform to the waiting standard gauge San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad train for the run to Alamosa. Upon arrival in Alamosa check-in to the Inn of the Rio Grande.
NEW MEXICO AND COLORADO
DAY 8 FRIDAY OCTOBER 8: (L) The steam pulled San Luis Express leaves daily at 9:00 a.m. from historic Alamosa and winds through country ranging from agricultural flatlands, to colorful foothills , to cliff-sided mountains - much of it inaccessible by motor vehicle - on its way to the charming art town of La Veta.
Departing from La Veta, we pay a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is the newest national park in the country joining 57 other parks in September 2004. Located on the eastern side of the remote, high-mountain San Luis Valley, these dunes are the tallest sand dunes in North America. The dunes cover approximately 39 square miles and rise to almost 750' above the valley floor.
We now travel by highway southeast towards Trinidad via the Cucharas Pass highway at 9,941 feet , which is called The Highway of Legends. As we make our way through this extreme southern finger of the Rocky Mountains we pass through Trinidad Lake State Park and on into the city of Trinidad. Upon check in at the La Quinta Inn Trinidad.
DAY 9 SATURDAY OCTOBER 9: (B) Today, you will be onboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief from Trinidad, Colorado to Winslow, Arizona, a distance of 567 miles over the famous Raton Pass: then into Apache Canyon in Northern New Mexico before arrival in Albuquerque, in which you can detrain and stretch your legs or take photos. Departing this area the train will race west towards Gallup and on into Arizona passing through the heart of Navajo county. Departure from Trinidad is scheduled for 9:50AM with an arrival in Winslow at 8:50PM. The Southwest Chief has full dining car service for both lunch and dinner. Located next to the former Santa Fe Winslow Depot is the historic La Posada Hotel, a former Santa Fe Railway Fred Harvey property.
The story of this famous hotel begins with Fred Harvey, who "civilized the west" by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel. (He was so legendary that MGM made a movie called The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland.) Harvey developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway, eventually controlling a hospitality empire that spanned the continent. In the 1920s, Harvey decided to build a major hotel in the center of northern Arizona. "La Posada"-the Resting Place-was to be the finest in the Southwest. They chose Winslow, the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway.. Each room at La Posada is unique. Furnishings range from Mexican rustic to fine antiques and include many original pieces. Other features include hammered tin or tile mirrors, wrought-iron lamps, and writing tables or desks. South-facing rooms offer views of the Santa Fe trains; other rooms overlook the cottonwood grove and main lawn the Secret Garden, or Route 66.
AN ORIGINAL FRED HARVEY HOUSE
DAY 10 SUNDAY OCTOBER 10: (L) We say good-bye to the La Pasada Hotel and backtrack some 40 miles east to Petrified Forest National Park. This National Park, in northern Arizona was created to preserve the mineralized remains of Mesozoic Forests commonly known as the "Petrified Forest.". This park is really two parks in one, the Painted Desert at the North end and the Rainbow Forest at the South end. The park covers over 93,533 acres and consists of six separate "forests" That took over 200 million years to form.
Our next point of interest is Meteor Crater, which was created 50,000 years ago and is 4,000 feet wide and 570 feet deep. The center of the crater is filled with 700-800 ft of rubble lying above crater bedrock.
We continue west to Flagstaff , and then travel south through spectacular Oak Creek Canyon which is about 12 miles long and ranges in width from 0.8 to 2.5 miles . The depth of the canyon ranges from 800-2,000 feet. This canyon will lead us to the breathtaking Sedona area. Hotel check-in at the King Ransom Inn, and afternoon and evening to explore the town.
DAY 11 MONDAY OCTOBER 11: (B-L) This morning we take a short drive from Sedona to the historic Jerome Ghost Town State Park and Museum. This old mining and railroad town is racked full of railroad history and the museum has some wonderful displays of the mining industry and the railroads that served the area. We then travel to nearby Clarksdale, to board the Verde Canyon Railroad excursion train for the run into remote Verde Canyon and return. This is a four hour train trip. Our train returns to Clarksdale, at 4:00pm where we will transfer back to our hotel in nearby Sedona for a 2nd nights lodging.
DAY 12 TUESDAY OCTOBER 12: (B) We depart Sedona in the morning for a return drive through spectacular Oak Creek Canyon and then on to Williams to board Grand Canyon Railroad's 10:00AM train headed north for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The train arrives at the rim is at 12:15PM and you will then have plenty of time to explore the breathtaking views of the canyon. We will depart from the South Rim by highway and head around the east side of The Grand Canyon crossing the Colorado River at Marble Canyon. After crossing the mighty Colorado, we enter the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and follow these beautiful cliff formations to Kanab, Utah where we check into the Holiday Inn Express.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK BELOW
CANYON ON THE COLORADO RIVER.
THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE OF THE VERMILION
CLIFFS NATIONAL MONUMENT
DAY 13 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 13: (CB) Morning departure from Kanab, Utah by highway for the one hour drive to Zion National Park. We will spend the morning hours in Zion, exploring this spectacular park. It is one breathtaking view after another; and even more so in the fall colors. By early afternoon we will be on our way to Bryce National Park, but we will make a small detour over to see Cedar Breaks National Monument, first. Then just a few miles before we enter Bryce, we will drive through Red Canyon. We want to have you at Bryce a couple of hours before sunset, as this is the most spectacular time of the day to visit. Overnight lodging at the Best Western Ruby's Inn at Bryce.
DAY 14 THURSDAY OCTOBER 14: (L) Early morning, we take a drive around Bryce National Park for those folks that would like to take more photos of rock formations in the morning sun. You will have the option to sleep in if you like, and when we return to the hotel, you may then check out. For those tour members staying at the hotel within walking distance are many handiwork and rock shops to visit. Once we check-out we drive in an easterly direction through Grand Escalante National Monument and then into Capitol Reef National Park.
As we make our way through the Grand Escalante National Monument and Dixie National Forest with the many aspens in full fall colors we enter Capitol Reef National Park.
After our visit to Capitol Reef National Park, we swing into a southward direction towards Glen Canyon National Recreation Area crossing over the Colorado River and Lake Powell near Hite, Utah. As we continue south we enter White Canyon in Canyon Rims Recreation Area before arriving at Natural Bridges National Monument.
LAKE POWELL AND THE COLORADO RIVER
We depart from Natural Bridges National Monument, in the late afternoon for our last leg of today's journey. We have a special surprise for you before we call it a day. A few years ago our rail tours manager discovered by accident a very remote and breathtaking area north of Monument Valley called "Valley of the Gods" This is a remote area and is spectacular. Located off the beaten track with very few tourist visitng here. The best time to visit is late afternoon when the shadows of the rock formations stretch across the valley. After our visit we drive south to Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border. We have another surprise in store for you. We have been able to get rooms in the only hotel within Monument Valley Tribal Park. The View Hotel was opened in December 2008 with every room facing east overlooking Monument Valley.
DAY 15 FRIDAY OCTOBER 15: (L) This morning we take you on a 20 mile circle drive to see the most spectacular areas of The Navajo Nation's Monument Tribal Park. After our visit we then travel north back into Utah, with a stop at the Goosenecks State Park where the San Juan River makes a number of gooseneck bends.
We will stop in the small town of Bluff, Utah for lunch. We Hope the Navajo Twin Rocks stay in place until after our lunch. We then continue northward to Canyonlands National Park. This is a large park that is spread out over many miles. The roads going into the canyons are mostly jeep only trails. There are several viewing areas for the general public which has paved roads. This afternoon we will visit two viewing areas in the southern part of this national Park. The first area we will visit is The Needles District. The second area is The Needles Overlook. From this location it is less than an hours drive into Moab, Utah for hotel check-in at the Best Western Canyonlands Inn located in downtown within walking distance of restaurants and the many shops.
THE NEEDLES DISTRICT
DAY 16 SATURDAY OCTOBER 16: (B-D) Today, we will spend the morning hours in Arches National Park before returning to Moab, mid day for lunch and a chance to explore the town and visit the many interesting handicraft shops. In the afternoon we will first visit Dead Horse State Park and Dead Horse Overlook. Next we will go back into Canyonlands National Park for a visit to the Island in the Sky District and the spectacular Grand View Point Overlook. Late afternoon we head for Green River, Utah for hotel check-in. On our way there the colorful Book Cliffs will be in the afternoon sun; and this will make for some great photos. Once you have freshen up in your room we will have our "Farewell Dinner" with views overlooking the Green River.
ISLAND IN THE SKY DISTRICT
DAY 17 SUNDAY OCTOBER 17 : (B) Today, we will ride Amtrak's California Zephyr from Green River, Utah to Denver, Colorado. The eastbound Zephyr is due in Green River at 9:00AM. Once onboard, and all settled in your seat; you can enjoy the Book Cliffs which you saw yesterday. As the train heads east and joins the Colorado River; the scenery changes. For the next 25 miles, the train follows the Colorado River closely in the remote Ruby Canyon before entering the wide Grand Valley. While in Ruby Canyon, the train will enter Colorado. There will be a 30 minutes station stop at Grand Junction, before continuing eastward. Once the train departs Grand Junction it enters the De Beque Canyon, location of the famed Western Colorado fruit growing area and the oil shale development project plus a number of Uranium mines. Do not forget to go to the dining car for lunch. The Zephyr's next stop is at the resort of Glenwood Springs, gateway to the Colorado Rockies at 12:52PM we enter the massive and rugged Glenwood Canyon with it's towering rock cliffs reaching thousands of feet above the train. As the train swings north onto the Dotsero Cutoff we enter Red Canyon with strange rock formations that look like Buddhist Temples. Next is the narrow Little Gore Canyon and Big Gore Canyon, before entering Byers Canyon and then Granby at 4:00PM. Granby is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. All too soon, we enter into the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel; which will take us under the lofty crest of James Peak and the Continental Divide. When we come out of the tunnel the train will be on the east slope of the Rockies and heading down towards Denver. You might want to get some dinner in the dining car as the train now must run through 28 tunnels and above the rugged South Boulder Canyon to reach Plainview. From here you will be able to see the lights of Denver far below. On a clear evening you can see into Kansas. The train arrives in Denver at 7:38PM. Our tour will end upon arrival in Denver. We have had a number of requests from our clients to continue onboard Amtrak's California Zephyr to Chicago. If you are planning on doing this please contact us as we can arrange your travel Denver to Chicago either in coach or sleeper.