Culture, Enthusiast

Trains & Treasures of the Western States

14 to 28 October 2020
USA

This tour will present to you some of the most exciting and scenic excursion train rides in six western states of the USA during the peak fall colors. This tour includes visiting Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California. Additionally, many spectacular national and state parks will be visited as we make our way westward from Colorado to California using vans which allows us more flexibility. 

 

Highlights

  • Twelve train rides
  • Six western states
  • Eight railroad museums
  • Three railroad workshops
  • Nine National and State Parks
  • Eleven lunches/dinners included

This tour is for a maximum of 18 people so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Tour Manager: Chris Skow

From: London Heathrow plus other UK airport (indirect).

Itinerary

Day 1 Wednesday 14 October  Direct BA flight at 14.40 from Heathrow to Denver; From Gatwick (out via New York, return direct); from Manchester or Edinburgh (via LHR). Transfer to downtown Holiday Inn Express hotel. The rest of the evening on your own to relax and explore the downtown area of the city.

Day 2 Thursday 15 October (L,D) Today we visit the Colorado Railroad Museum in nearby Golden. This museum is full of wonderful Colorado Narrow Gauge history and rolling stock and is the best railroad museum in Colorado. We will leave the museum around mid-day and then pay a visit to the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver. The Forney Museum of Transportation is a one-of-a-kind collection of over 600 artifacts relating to historical transportation. One of the highlights include: Union Pacific ‘Big Boy’ Steam Locomotive #4005. In the evening we will have our “Welcome to Denver Dinner”. 

Day 3 Friday 16 October (D) We depart Denver and head for Canon City located at the mouth of the Royal Gorge. On the way we plan to stop at Colorado Springs to view the famous “Garden of the Gods” rock formations. We will ride the 12:30PM train on the Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad train for a journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. After our train ride we travel by highway to Fort Garland to board the evening Wine and Dine train with dinner on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad then by road to Chama, New Mexico and hotel check-in at the Branding Iron Motel.

Day 4 Saturday 17 October (L) After breakfast, visit to the railroad yards and workshops to watch the crew prepare the steam locomotive for a 10:00AM departureon the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad. This morning you will have a choice to either ride the steam train up the steep grades to Cumbres Summit or you can follow the train by highway and get some great action shots then board the train at Cumbres Summit and ride the rest of the way to Antonito, Colorado arriving at 4:05PM. Once the train arrives at Antonito we head for Durango, Colorado by highway arriving early evening and hotel check-in at the Best Western Rio Grande hotel.

Day 5 Sunday 18 October (B,L) Before boarding our train in Durango we will visit the Durango & Silverton museum which is attached to the workshops and give you a view into the roundhouse from the museum. We then board the first steam train of the day on the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This train leaves Durango at 8:00AM 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 train which arrives 45 minutes later. 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. Your train will depart Silverton at 1:45PM and you will have the option to get off of this train at the Rockwood Station and follow by highway for photos on into Durango.                                    

Day 6 Monday 19 October (B) Before we leave Colorado we visit the Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the wonderfully preserved cliff dwellings. Our next call is the Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Park where we are subject to Navajo laws and customs. You will be experiencing one of the most majestic – and most photographed – points on earth as the astonishing landscape of mesas and buttes towering up to 1000 feet above the valley floor have been used in numerous Western movies.  

We stay at the Navajo owned View hotel where all rooms face east with a private balcony and views unlike anywhere else in world. After the sun sets you can head for the hotel restaurant for dinner.

Day 7 Tuesday 20 October (L) A morning exploration of Monument Valley as we travel the 17 Mile Drive to view some of the rock formations such as Rain God Mesa, and Totem Pole before heading north into Utah, stopping to visit Goosenecks State Park on the edge of the San Juan river canyon with impressive views over the entrenched river meander a thousand feet below. Next is the Valley of the Gods, a hidden gem with scenery similar to that of nearby Monument Valley, but much less visited. After a picnic lunch we are back on the road enjoying the vast vistas at Canyonlands National Park with its countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado river and its tributaries. Hotel check-in Moab, Utah.

Day 8 Wednesday 21 October (B,L) Morning visit to Arches National Park which has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. We continue our trek westward and have a picnic lunch at Capitol Reef National Park before arriving at Bryce Canyon National Park for our overnight stay.

Day 9 Thursday 22 October (L) Morning visit to amazing Bryce National Park with its thousands of Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing by the forces of erosion). Midmorning we leave this national park and enter Nevada, making a short stop at Great Basin National Park where sage-covered foothills rise to the 13,000-foot summit of Wheeler Peak. Check-in to our hotel in Ely, Navada then maybe photograph the afternoon steam excursion train on its return journey.

Day 10 Friday 23 October (B,L) Visit the Nevada Northern Railway yards and workshops in East Ely, Nevada. This is the best-preserved, least altered, and most complete complex remaining from the steam railroad era in the US, established in 1905 to support the area’s booming copper mining industry We take the afternoon steam-hauled excursion train up to a point near the Ruth Copper Mine. If you wish you may follow on the highway for some great action shots. 2nd night at the La Quinta Hotel.

Day 11 Saturday 24 October (B) It is time to yet again head west across the Nevada desert on the “Loneliest Road” in America. We will make stops in Eureka and Austin on our 287-mile journey between Ely and Fernley.

Eureka is one of the best-preserved mining cities in the American West and rich lodes of precious metals made it the “Pittsburgh of the West”, overtaking the silver town of Austin in size and mining productivity during the middle 1870s when the Eureka & Palisade Railroad was extended south to the Central Pacific. There were dozens of saloons, gambling houses and bawdy houses, three opera houses and two breweries. Many of its buildings are impressive. We end at Carson City after a very long day.

Day 12 Sunday 25 October (B)  On Sundays the Virginia & Truckee, Nevada’s most famous short line, runs a steam train from the Eastgate Station near Carson City up the steep hill to Virginia City and back, so today you can ride the train or follow to take photographs. Once this train arrives in Virginia City you will have the opportunity to visit the workshops. The ‘Bonanza’ short line’s last official revenue train operated on May 31, 1950 between Reno, Carson City, and Minden.

We travel to Carson City to visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum where select pieces of equipment in the collection are restored and operated throughout the year to demonstrate steam and early gasoline technology. Northward through Reno and on to Portola, our overnight stop. In the evening we are invited over to Chris Skow’s home for an all you can eat Mexican Buffet out on the deck. Chris will have his garden scale model trains running in the gardens and you can inspect his massive collection of railroad artefacts in his private railroad museum.

Day 13 Monday 26 October (L) Portola is home to the Western Pacific Railroad museum which has the largest collection of diesel engines in North America, so we must visit it! Around mid-day we have the opportunity to photograph freight trains in the Feather River Canyon at such famous locations as the massive Clio Viaduct, Williams Loop and the Keddie Wye Bridge. We make our way down the canyon to Oroville and continue to our hotel in Sacramento, which is next to the California State Railroad museum and the old historic section of the city, so well placed for some evening exploration.

Day 14 Tuesday 27 October (B) For those that are interested we will take a ride on the Sacramento Regional Transit light rail line, then visit the California State Railroad Museum before boarding Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor train 541 which departs Sacramento at 14.10 and arrives at Richmond at 15.35. Richmond is the across the platform connection with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and we will catch a BART train here for the ride into San Francisco, transferring to the street level street car line which will take us to Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco has purchased old street cars from all over the world and put them back into service to the enjoyment of many people. Our hotel is next to the street car line and a block away from one of the famous cable car lines. After dinner we have a night time tour of San Francisco using the street car, cable car and trams.

Day 15 Wednesday 28 October (B) Hotel check-out and transfer to the airport.

Flights

BA219 14.40 Heathrow to Denver (direct)
BA286 19.30 San Francisco to Heathrow (direct)

 

Place(s) available
Holiday prices per person
  • Full 15-day tour from Denver to San Francisco: £5,100
  • Return flight options from the UK from London or Manchester: Allow £650

Options

  • Single room supplement for full tour: £680
  • Discount for booking before 31.12.2019: £150*

Deposit

  • £750 plus flight costs
  • Final payment due by 15 August 2020

* discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount or voucher

 

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