Day 1: Depart Chicago
Scenic Colorado and its Trains tour members will meet the Tour Director in Chicago’s Union Station by noon. They’ll prepare to board the famous California Zephyr, departing at 2:00. It features double-decker Superliners. Relax in your comfortable reclining coach seat with leg rest. Roomettes or Bedrooms are available at an additional cost. All dining car meals are included beginning with dinner this evening. After settling in, you’ll want to go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car for spectacular viewing.
Day 2: Colorado Rockies
Today’s journey through the Colorado Rockies will be one of the many high points of this fabulous vacation. The train will wind around sharp curves and through numerous tunnels. You’ll look down at fast flowing streams winding through valleys far below. We’ll travel under the Continental Divide as we pass through the six-mile Moffat Tunnel. The breathtaking mountain vistas will continue until late afternoon when we arrive in Grand Junction.
Grand Junction is a modern city of 42,000 on the western slopes of the Rockies. The DoubleTree by Hilton is our home for our first night in Colorado. Dinner tonight in the hotel’s fine restaurant is included.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 3: Durango
Following breakfast, we’ll depart Grand Junction and drive south to our first major attraction, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is one of our country’s newer National Parks. You’ll see 12 miles of the deepest portion of the Gunnison River gorge. Some of the earth’s oldest base rocks have been cut by the river to a depth of 2,700 feet. Down by the river, the canyon narrows to about 40 feet.
We’ll continue south over the beautiful San Juan Mountains to Silverton, a typical wild-west mining community with a rather infamous past.
We’ll have time to walk along Blair Street with its false-fronted buildings typical of the Old West. Plan on an “on-your-own” lunch in Silverton.
A high point of our tour occurs this afternoon when we ride on the Durango & Silverton Scenic Rail Road. The steam-powered, narrow-gauge train travels through 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 picturesque city of Durango, commercial center for the ranching and mining enterprises of the southwest San Juan Mountains. This city of 14,000 thrived as a railroad and mining center in the late 1800s. Much of the downtown area has been restored to its Victorian past. We’ll enjoy the hospitality of the DoubleTree by Hilton tonight and tomorrow. The hotel is conveniently located near downtown Durango.
You’re free this evening to enjoy Durango. There are numerous dining options.
Day 4: Durango / Mesa Verde
This morning we’ll travel westward to Mesa Verde National Park, one of our nation’s major archeological preserves. Many large canyons seam the Mesa Verde area. In the shelter of hundreds of caves eroded in the cliffs are some of the world’s largest and best preserved cliff dwellings. They were occupied around 1200 A.D. Ruins Road covers 12 miles and provides a view of about 40 cliff dwellings from canyon rim lookout points.
We’ll return to Durango at mid afternoon. You’re free the rest of the day to enjoy the shops, museums, galleries and a variety of fine restaurants.
Day 5: Cumbres & Toltec Railroad
This morning we’ll board our deluxe motorcoach and travel 109 miles to Chama, New Mexico. In Chama we’ll board the nation’s highest and largest narrow gauge rail line, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Built in 1880 and little changed since, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the finest and most spectacular example of steam era mountain railroading in North America. Its equipment, structures and vast landscape exist today as if frozen in the first half of the twentieth century. Its steam locomotives still labor up steep grades carrying visitors over high trestles, through tunnels, and along narrow shelves above yawning gorges.
The train will depart Chama at 10:00 a.m. and travel 64 miles through the awesome mountain scenery and arrive in Antonito, Colorado, at 4:05 p.m. A full buffet lunch is included during a one-hour stopover in Osier.
Upon arrival in Antonito, we’ll board our deluxe motorcoach and continue 29 miles to Alamosa, a town of 8,000. Our hotel is the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites. Dinner is included this evening.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 6: Colorado Springs
Breakfast in our hotel is included this morning. We’ll board our deluxe motorcoach and travel north 137 miles to Canon City where, at 12:30, we’ll embark on one of the most scenic rail excursions in North America, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. The 24-mile round trip journey between Canon City and Parkdale follows the Arkansas River through the scenic Royal Gorge. The train travels across an unusual hanging bridge where the gorge narrows to just 30 feet wide. You’ll pass under the Royal Gorge Bridge. It is said to be the world’s highest suspension bridge (1053 feet). A light “on-your-own” lunch is available on the train.
We’ll continue on to the beautiful city of Colorado Springs. Our hotel for the next two nights, the historic Antlers Hilton, is located in the heart of this city of 360,000. You’re free this evening to explore this charming metropolis.
Day 7: Colorado Springs
Today is the day we discover Colorado Springs and its environs. This popular vacation spot at the foot of Pikes Peak is known for its bracing air, sunshine, and picturesque setting.
A highlight of our nine-day tour is this morning’s encounter with 14,110-feet high Pikes Peak. The views from the top of the peak inspired Kathryn Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful”. On a clear day you can see Denver, 75 miles to the north, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado and New Mexico, which are 100 miles away. We’ll travel to the top of the mountain on the world-famous Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The distinct altitude and temperature changes from base to peak may cause discomfort for persons with heart or respiratory problems.
Those unable to participate in the climb up Pikes Peak will visit Miramont Castle. Nine types of architecture - including Gothic, Romanesque and Tudor - are incorporated into the design of this 48-room mansion.
A lunch at the Garden of the Gods is included. This afternoon everyone will explore the spectacular Garden of the Gods, a 1300-acre park where the Great Plains meet the Rockies. We’ll return to our hotel by late afternoon.
Tonight you’ll enjoy an included dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Meal(s): L & D
Day 8: Denver
We’ll depart for Denver this morning. A visit to the U.S. Olympic Training Center is scheduled en route. The tour begins with a video presentation, followed by a walking tour of the complex.
Following an “on-your-own” lunch, we’ll begin an afternoon tour of the Mile-High City. You’ll experience two sides of Denver, which is an historic Western town and a dynamic modern city.
Your guide will introduce you to the historic and city highlights. You’ll see many of Denver’s major cultural attractions and landmarks including the Museum of Natural History, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the historic Colorado State Capitol with its golden dome. We’ll travel to the top of Lookout Mountain for breathtaking views of the High Plains, the city of Denver and the Rocky Mountains.
Following our sightseeing tour, we’ll have dinner (included) at a Denver restaurant. We’ll then continue to the Denver Amtrak Station to prepare to depart at 7:10 p.m. on the eastbound California Zephyr. Enjoy the same accommodations and amenities you experienced on your westbound trip.
Day 9: En Route to Chicago
Our train will roll across Iowa and Illinois before our late afternoon arrival in Chicago. Some tour members will change to trains bound for Midwest, Eastern and Southern home cities. Others may spend the night in Chicago and fly home tomorrow.
Meal(s): B & L