Day 1: Depart Chicago
Northwest Explorer tour members will meet the Tour Director in the Metropolitan Lounge of Chicago’s Union Station. At 1:30 p.m. you’ll board the famous California Zephyr. Departure is at 2:00 p.m. The Zephyr features double-decker Superliner equipment. Relax in your comfortable private Roomette. Bedrooms are available at an additional cost. After settling in, you may want to go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car. Coffee, juice and water are available in your car. All meals on the trains are included. Enjoy dinner in the dining car 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 majestic Colorado Rockies in the distance. Plan to get up early, have a piping hot breakfast in the dining car and find a seat in the glass-walled lounge car for the spectacular scenery that will unfold before you. The Zephyr will pull out of Denver at 8:05 a.m. and begin its climb over the Front Range toward the Continental Divide. About an hour later we’ll encounter the famous 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel and go under the Continental Divide. Throughout the day the train will wind around sharp mountain curves and through numerous tunnels. You’ll look down at roaring streams winding through valleys far below. The beautiful mountain vistas continue this afternoon.
Meal(s): B, L, & D
Day 3: En Route / Emeryville
Today the spectacular scenery continues as the Zephyr climbs over the high Sierra Nevada Mountains through the famous Donner Pass. From rugged terrain and pine trees to lush greenery and palm trees…this landscape contrast will occur in just three hours. Our arrival into Emeryville is scheduled for 4:10 p.m.
Then it is on to the world-famous “City by the Bay”. Our home tonight in San Francisco is the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf. There are several options for an “on-your-own” dinner nearby.
Meal(s): B & L
Day 4: San Francisco
You’re free this morning to ride a cable car or just wander around world-renowned Fisherman’s Wharf. You’ll have time to discover the excellent restaurants, markets, import houses and souvenir shops. Enjoy the great shops and galleries.
At 1:00 p.m. we’ll embark on a three-and-a-half hour sightseeing tour of San Francisco, including Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, the Mission District, Telegraph Hill and the Presidio.
At 10:04 p.m., we’ll board the famous Coast Starlight, Amtrak’s premier train.
Relax in your comfortable private Superliner sleeping accommodations. After settling in, you may want to go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car. Coffee, juice and water are available in your car.
Day 5: Coast Starlight / Crater Lake National Park
Enjoy an early breakfast in the dining car this morning. Our arrival into Klamath Falls is scheduled for 8:07 a.m.
Upon arrival we will board our motorcoach and travel to Crater Lake National Park. Our step on guide will join us for our sightseeing tour of the beautiful area.
Crater Lake was formed 7,700 years ago, when a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a towering volcano. The lake’s purity is attributed by its being fed by rain and snow and is the deepest lake in the USA.
Following our visit, we will continue traveling northwest to Newport, Oregon, “The Dungeness Crab Capital of the World”.
An “on-your-own” lunch stop will be made en route.
Our home for this evening will be the beautiful Hallmark Resort. This majestic hotel sits on bluffs directly overlooking the mighty Pacific Ocean. This evening you can visit the quaint downtown area and scenic Yaquina Bay.
Day 6: Newport, Oregon
This morning we’ll be joined by a team of friendly naturalist guides for a fun and exciting 2-hour cruise aboard the deluxe 65-foot Discovery. We’ll be looking for gray whales, porpoise, seals, sea lions, pelicans, bald eagles and an abundance of marine birds. Enjoy the incredible scenery of the bay, river and coastline featuring the largest fishing fleet on the Oregon Coast, the historic bridge and two lighthouses. If the ocean is calm, we will spend most of our time on it, if not, there are 6 miles of bay and 12 miles of rivers to explore!
We will continue to Astoria where we will spend the evening at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites.
Day 7: Astoria, Oregon
This morning we will board our motorcoach for a sightseeing tour of historic Astoria. A city of 10,000 located on Oregon’s beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline, Astoria dates from the winter of 1805-06, when the Lewis and Clark expedition camped at Fort Clatsop. Astoria’s attractions include the 125-foot high Astoria Column, Columbia River Maritime Museum and the Fort Clatsop National Memorial.
There will be an “on-your-own” lunch stop as we continue on to Portland.
Later this afternoon we will check into the Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center. Tonight we will board “The Portland Spirit” for a wonderful dinner cruise with live entertainment.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 8: Portland / Seattle
This morning we’ll strike out on a tour of beautiful Portland, the “Rose City!” You will visit some of Portland’s most scenic historic districts. These include Old Town Chinatown, once the second largest Chinese-American community on the West Coast and now home to the Classical Chinese Garden; Nob Hill, one of the city’s most picturesque boutique shopping areas (sometimes called Portland’s “Rodeo Drive”); and the Pearl District, Portland’s hip new area for arts and entertainment.
Following our tour we’ll transfer to Portland‘s Union Station where we’ll board Amtrak’s Cascades for Seattle. The Cascades feature newly-refurbished, European-designed Talgo trains. Enjoy the oversized windows and free Wi-Fi. The Bistro car offers fresh entrees, salads, sandwiches and beverages including local microbrews and coffees for an on-your-own lunch.
Our arrival into Seattle’s King Street Station is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Our home this evening is The Mayflower Park Hotel.
Day 9: Seattle
We’ll set off this morning for a three-hour sightseeing tour of the Seattle area. It will include Chinatown, concrete floating bridges, Lake Washington, the arboretum, the University of Washington, plus sweeping views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. We will also visit the famous Seattle Space Needle, with incredible photo opportunities from the observation deck and Pike Place Market. The tour will end at the Seattle Amtrak station.
We’ll board Amtrak’s Empire Builder and travel 2200 miles to Chicago. Relax in your private Roomette sleeping accommodations. Bedrooms are available at an additional cost. All full course dining car meals are included.
Day 10: En Route
Enjoy a dining car breakfast and then head for the Sightseer Lounge car. About 8:00 a.m., a dramatic panorama of snow-covered Rocky Mountain peaks will begin to rise above the horizon, becoming increasingly dynamic as we approach Glacier National Park. The scenery is striking as we wind past waterfalls, river gorges and other sights. The rest of the day we’ll cross the remote flatlands of eastern Montana and western North Dakota.
Meal(s): B, L, & D
Day 11: En Route to Chicago
Breakfast and lunch are included on the train. The Empire Builder is scheduled to arrive in Chicago’s Union Station late this afternoon. Many of our tour members will conclude their America by Rail vacation by transferring to Amtrak trains bound for home cities. Some will spend the night in Chicago and return home by air tomorrow.
Meal(s): B & L