Day 1: Depart Chicago
National Parks of the Southwest tour members will meet the Tour Director in Chicago’s Union Station. You’ll board the famous California Zephyr for the 2:00 p.m. departure. The Zephyr features double-decker Superliner equipment.
Relax in your reclining coach seat with leg rest. Private Roomettes and Bedrooms are available at an additional cost. After settling in, you may want to go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car. All meals on the train are included beginning with dinner tonight.
Day 2: En Route
When you awaken this morning you may look out your window toward the West and thrill to the sight of the towering, majestic Colorado Rockies in the distance. Plan to get up early, have breakfast in the dining car and find a seat in the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car for the spectacular scenery that will unfold before you.
The Zephyr will leave Denver and begin its climb over the Front Range toward the Continental Divide. About an hour later you’ll encounter the famous 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel and go under the Continental Divide. Throughout the day the train will wind around mountain curves and through numerous tunnels. You’ll look down at roaring streams winding through valleys far below.
Our arrival into Grand Junction is scheduled for 3:57 p.m. We’ll enjoy dinner in Grand Junction before continuing 113 miles by motorcoach to Moab, Utah. Moab is a small resort town at the center of some of the most stunning rock landscapes on earth.
Our home for the next two nights will be the Hampton Inn.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 3: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
Following breakfast you’ll board a comfortable motorcoach and travel to the Visitor Center at Arches National Park. The park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches. You’ll view a red, arid desert, punctuated with oddly eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacle rocks, and arches. The 73,000-acre region has over 2,000 of these “miracles of nature.”
During our visit to this magnificent natural attraction, we’ll experience Balanced Rock, the double arch, and Fiery Furnace (a labyrinth of sandstone cliffs and monoliths). At the Devil’s Garden, you can view Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, and Dark Angel Arch.
Following a box lunch (included), we’ll visit Canyonlands National Park, a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing.
We’ll visit the Island in the Sky, a mesa that rests on sheer sandstone cliffs over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. Every overlook offers a different perspective on Canyonlands’ spectacular landscape.
We return to Moab for a second night. Dinner at a nearby restaurant is included.
Meal(s): CB, L & D
Day 4: Capitol Reef
Following a Continental breakfast we travel to Capitol Reef National Park.
Along the 25 mile scenic drive we’ll view the Waterpocket Fold that defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile long warp in the earth’s crust, Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise horizontal layers. A monocline is a “step-up” in the rock layers. The rock layers on the west side of the Waterpocket Fold have been lifted more than 7,000 feet higher than the layers on the east.
We’ll continue to Torrey, Utah where we’ll check into the Capitol Reef Resort, our home for the night. There are restaurants nearby for an "on-your-own" dinner.
Day 5: Monument Valley
This morning we’ll travel south to Kayenta, Arizona. A highlight of this day will be the drive through Monument Valley. The region provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, advertisements and brochures.
We’ll spend the night at the Hampton Inn Monument Valley. Dinner tonight is included.
Day 6: Kayenta to Lake Powell
A full breakfast is included today.
We will board our motorcoach and travel northwest to Page, Arizona.
We embark on a lunch cruise on Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake in the country. We’ll cruise as far as Antelope Canyon, a spectacular attraction. The Canyon is so narrow that you’ll feel that you could almost touch the walls which rise straight up.
Our home for tonight will be the Holiday Inn Express and Suites.
Meal(s): B & L
Day 7: Grand Canyon North Rim
No trip to Southern Utah is complete without visiting the Grand Canyon, and why not take the road less traveled and visit the North Rim? 1000 feet higher than the South Rim, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon provides impressive vistas along the Colorado River, and a better glimpse at the inner canyon while retaining a sense of solitude.Following our visit of the Grand Canyon we will board our deluxe motorcoach and travel into southern Utah. Our destination is Kanab.
Upon arrival we will check into the Holiday Inn Express and Suites for the night.
You are free to explore this evening. The town is like a Hollywood portrayal of the classic American West - towering Navajo sandstone cliffs and vistas of sagebrush. This scenery has lured filmmakers to Kanab for nearly 80 years. Abandoned film sets near town have become tourist attractions. The buildings all over town have plenty of movie posters and autographed photos to support Kanab’s self-proclaimed title, “Little Hollywood.”
Day 8: En Route to Lehi
This morning we begin our journey north across southern Utah. Our destination is Lehi, site of Thanksgiving Point, a world-class attraction on Lake Utah 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Our hotel for the next two nights is the Springhill Suites. The hotel is adjacent to Thanksgiving Point.
You’re free this evening to relax in your hotel or explore Thanksgiving Point. There are several restaurants options available for dinner.
Day 9: Thanksgiving Point
Breakfast is included in our hotel today.
Thanksgiving Point is a farm, garden, and museum complex. Your pass includes the Museum of Ancient Life, Farm Country, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, and Ashton Gardens. You are free to explore at your leisure. There are also several retail shops, a spa and an ice cream shop.
The Museum of Ancient Life contains one of the world’s largest displays of mounted dinosaurs with 60 complete dinosaur skeletons in the galleries, along with more than 50 hands-on exhibits. This is the destination to enjoy learning about our pre-historic animals. Also, be sure to check out the working paleontology lab where workers are unearthing real dinosaur bones. Currently the lab is working on a 150-million-year-old long neck dinosaur called a Barosaurus.
There is also a Mammoth Screen Theatre located inside the museum which shows 3D National Georgraphic movies.
Ashton Gardens covers approximately 55 acres and includes 15 different theme gardens. Other themed gardens include a Monet pond, Rocky Mountain landscapes and a rose garden with 60 varieties.
Thanksgiving Point’s newest venue is the Museum of Natural Curiosity. The museum features five exhibit areas: Rainforest, Waterworks, Kidopolis, Traveling Exhibits and the five-acre outdoor component, Discovery Garden.
We will spend our final night at the Springhill Suites.
Day 10: Mormon Tabernacle Choir / Salt Lake City
Following breakfast we’ll board our deluxe motorcoach and travel 30 miles to Salt Lake City. Our first destination is the Mormon Tabernacle where we will attend the Sunday morning Music and the Spoken Word featuring the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This included modern and traditional arrangements of spiritual, patriotic, popular, classic and contemporary music coupled with timely, inspiring prose. Music and the Spoken Word becomes an uplifting and rejuvenating memorable experience.
The remainder of our day will be devoted to a delightful tour of Salt Lake City. You’ll see the Mormon Temple, Tabernacle, Brigham Young’s Monument and private burial ground, Beehive House, Lion House, Eagle Gate, University of Utah, Fort Douglas and Trolly Square. There will be “on-your-own” lunch opportunities.
We will arrive in Price, Utah where we will spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites.
Day 11: En Route / Colorado Rockies
This morning we will transfer to the nearby Helper Amtrak station and board the California Zephyr for our trip to Chicago.
A reclining coach seat with leg rest is included. Private Roomette and Bedrooms are available at an additional cost. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Snacks, beverages and sandwiches are available in the lounge car throughout the day.
Make sure you take the opportunity to view the spectacular scenery from the Sightseer Lounge car as we make our way toward Denver. When we leave Glenwood Springs, we will begin to climb through the spectacular Rockies toward the Continental Divide. We’ll encounter the famous, 6.2-mile long Moffat Tunnel and go under the Continental Divide. The mountain vistas will continue throughout the afternoon. We’ll arrive in Denver at 6:38 p.m.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 12: En Route to Chicago
The California Zephyr will roll across Iowa and Illinois and arrive in Chicago at mid afternoon. Some tour members will change to trains bound for Midwest, Eastern and Southern home cities. Others will spend the night in Chicago and continue home tomorrow.
Meal(s): B & L