Day 1: Depart Chicago
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta tour members will meet the Tour Director in Chicago’s Union Station prior to boarding the famous California Zephyr. Departure is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
The California Zephyr is a double-decker Superliner. Relax in your reclining coach seat with leg rest. Roomettes and Bedrooms are available for an additional charge. After settling in, you may want to go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car, it’s a great place to enjoy the passing scenery. All meals on the train are included. Enjoy a full-course dinner in the dining car tonight.
Day 2: Grand Junction
The Zephyr will pull out of Denver this morning and begin its climb over the majestic Colorado Rockies. Throughout the day the train will wind around sharp curves and through numerous tunnels. You’ll look down at fast flowing streams winding through valleys far below. The breathtaking mountain vistas will continue until late afternoon when we arrive in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Grand Junction is a modern city of 28,000 located on the western slopes of the mountains. Upon our arrival, we’ll travel the short distance to the attractive DoubleTree by Hilton. We will enjoy dinner tonight at our hotel.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 3: Durango
Breakfast is included. This morning when we’ll travel the short distance to the famous Colorado National Monument. The Monument is seamed with canyons more than a thousand feet deep and can be viewed from overlooks along Rim Rock Drive which skirts the canyon rims. Isolated monoliths include Independence Rock, Balanced Rock, Coke Ovens and Pipe Organ.
We’ll continue southward. An “on-your-own” lunch is scheduled for Delta. At mid afternoon our travelers will arrive at the awesome Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Gunnison River gorge is one of the most amazing geological displays in the West. The Hampton Inn in Montrose, Colorado, is our home for the night. Dinner is included at a nearby restaurant.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 4: Durango
We’ll begin the day with an included breakfast. We’ll reboard our motorcoach and continue south through the picturesque San Juan Mountains to Silverton.
Silverton is a typical wild-west mining community with a rather infamous past. There will be time to walk along Blair Street with its false-fronted buildings typical of the Old West and to have an “on-your-own” lunch.
A high point of our tour will occur this afternoon when we ride the famous Durango & Silverton Scenic Railroad. The steam-powered, narrow-gauge train travels through the remote wilderness of the San Juan National Forest, following the winding Animas River through breathtaking mountain scenery. The 45-mile, three-and-a-half hour rail journey will end in the charming city of Durango.
Surrounded by the picturesque San Juan Mountains, Durango is the commercial center for the ranching and mining enterprises of southwest Colorado. The city thrived as a railroad and mining center in the late 1800s. Much of the downtown area has been restored to its Victorian past. Our hotel will be the attractive DoubleTree Hotel.
Day 5: Taos / Santa Fe
Following a full breakfast in our hotel we’ll head south to historic Taos.
We will arrive into Taos in time for an “on-your-own” lunch. Following lunch we’ll embark on a two-hour sightseeing tour of the city prior to leaving for Santa Fe.
Our arrival into Santa Fe is scheduled for late afternoon. We’ll spend the next two evenings at the historic and charming La Fonda on the Plaza, located one block from the famous Santa Fe Plaza.
Day 6: Santa Fe
Santa Fe is the cultural and artistic capital of the Great American Southwest (as well as New Mexico’s state capital.). At 10:00 a.m. we’ll embark on a two-hour tour of Santa Fe. You’ll see the Palace of Governors, the oldest public building in the United States; the old market place, the Museum of International Folk Art, and travel along Canyon Road, the trail of the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians and route of Don Diego De Vargas. You’re free this afternoon and evening to enjoy the Santa Fe Plaza and other popular centrally located attractions.
This evening we’re off to the unique La Casa Sena Restaurant. The waiters and bartenders are professional singers. After they have taken your dinner order, they will present their “Best of Broadway” revue. Past and present show favorites are featured, including a number of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs.
Day 7: Albuquerque
You’re free this morning to pursue some last minute shopping at the Santa Fe Plaza.
The Rail Runner is a relatively new rail service that connects Santa Fe and Albuquerque. You’ll depart on one of the colorful, double-decker trains and arrive in downtown Albuquerque. Albuquerque, a city of about 400,000, is New Mexico’s largest.
You’ll embark on a sightseeing tour of beautiful Albuquerque. We’ll check into the Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown, our home for the next two nights.
Day 8: Balloon Fiesta
This morning we’ll enjoy an included breakfast in the Hospitality Tent. Today’s activities are completely focused on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We’ll be at the Fiesta Park early this morning for the Mass Ascension. You are about to witness the most spectacular display of sound and color in all aviation. The balloons are launched in two waves. There will be other activities, including the Fiesta of Wheels Car Show.
We’ll return to our hotel at mid morning to rest or you can visit a number of attractions in the area.
At 4:30 p.m. we’ll return to the Fiesta Park. A dinner is served in the Hospitality Tent. At 5:45 p.m., one of the Fiesta’s most popular events, the Balloon Glow, begins. The sight of hundreds of balloons lit from within at night, like giant holiday ornaments, is breathtaking. The Balloon Glow is followed by New Mexico’s most spectacular fireworks display.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 9: En Route
You’re free to rest this morning and prepare for your trip home. At 10:30 a.m. we’ll transfer to the Amtrak station to board the eastbound Southwest Chief. Departure is scheduled for 12:10 p.m.
Enjoy all the amenities you experienced on the westbound California Zephyr. During the late afternoon our train will climb Raton Pass along the former Santa Fe Trail.
Meal(s): L & D
Day 10: En Route to Chicago
The Southwest Chief will roll across Northeast Missouri, a corner of Iowa and all of Illinois before our 3:15 p.m. arrival into Chicago. Some tour members will change to trains bound for home cities. Others will spend the night in Chicago and fly home tomorrow.
Meal(s): B & L
Sun., Oct. 1 to Tues., Oct. 10, 2017 - IN PROGRESS
Fri., Oct. 6 to Sun., Oct. 15, 2017 - IN PROGRESS
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- Colorado Rockies
- Santa Fe
- The train ride through the Colorado Rockies is the most scenic in the United States. The train will wind between the towering Rockies’ peaks all day.
- Visit the Colorado National Monument, a series of giant sandstone monoliths seamed with canyons more than 500 feet deep.
- The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of our country’s newest National Parks. You’ll see 12 miles of the deepest portion of the Gunnison River gorge.
- Board the popular Durango & Silverton Scenic Railroad and travel 45 miles to Durango. We’ll travel along the winding Animas River through breathtaking mountain scenery.
- Enjoy Santa Fe, the cultural and artistic capital of the Great American Southwest. Visit the Museum of International Folk Art and other art studios.
- The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has to be seen to be believed. From the Mass Ascension early in the morning to the Balloon Glow at dusk, you’ll be amazed as the sky becomes aglow in a variety of colors.
- Relive the excitement of the Santa Fe Trail crossing Arizona and New Mexico on the Southwest Chief.
- Round-trip transportation by Amtrak and deluxe motorcoach.
- Reclining coach seat with leg rest on Amtrak for two nights.
- First-class hotel accommodations for seven nights.
- 15 meals
- Extensive sightseeing tours at each destination. Admission to all included attractions.
- Baggage handling, taxes, tips.
- Services of a professional America by Rail Tour Director from Chicago.
$2,795 - 10 Days
Upgrades: Roomette + $595
Bedroom + $1,245
Upgrade: Roomette + $1,190
FLY OPTION - Fly to Grand Junction and return from Albuquerque. 8 Days
All prices are per person/double occupancy unless otherwise stated.
America by Rail will be happy to arrange your flights. Airfare is not included in the above price.
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