Day 1: Depart Chicago
Western Canada Scenic Expedition tour members will board Amtrak’s Empire Builder for the 2200-mile journey to Everett, Washington. Departure is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Relax in your comfortable private Roomette or Bedroom sleeping accommodations. Go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car for spectacular viewing. All tastefully prepared dining car meals are included. We will arrive in Minneapolis-St. Paul late this evening.
Day 2: En Route
During the day we will roll across the remote flat lands of North Dakota and eastern Montana. Late this afternoon a dramatic panorama of Rocky Mountain peaks will begin to rise above the horizon. The scenery of Glacier National Park is striking as we wind past waterfalls, river gorges and other sights. The glass-walled lounge and dining car are excellent vantage points.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 3: En Route / Vancouver
You may want to rise early to watch the sun come up over some spectacular scenery. This morning the Empire Builder will enter the 7.8-mile-long Cascade Tunnel.Over the next two hours we’ll wind through the scenic Cascade Mountains.
Upon arrival into the Everett, Washington, train station we’ll board our motorcoach and travel to Vancouver. Vancouver is one of North America’s most prosperous cities and one of its most beautiful. Enjoy an “on-your-own” lunch at the delightful Granville Island Market.
This afternoon we’ll embark on a three-and-a-half hour sightseeing tour of the city. The tour will include Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, English Bay, Marine Drive, the waterfront and Queen Elizabeth Park.
After our tour, we’ll check into the beautiful Blue Horizon, our home for tonight.
Day 4: Vancouver / Victoria
You’re free until early afternoon.
At 3:00 p.m. we’ll board a British Columbia ferry for the hour-and-a-half scenic crossing of the Strait of Georgia. Our journey will end in beautiful Victoria, North America’s most “British” city. Late this afternoon we arrive at the attractive, centrally located Fairmont Empress where we’ll spend the next two nights.
Day 5: Victoria
You’re free this morning to shop and to visit major attractions. This afternoon we’ll embark on an hour-and-a-half sightseeing tour of the city, including the Parliament buildings, the Provincial Museum, the University of Victoria and the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Uplands and Oak Bay residential areas and other sites. We’ll then visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens, a 35-acre tapestry of brilliant colors. The Tour Director will host dinner tonight at the Fairmont Empress’ restaurant.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 6: Vancouver Island / Port Hardy
This morning we’ll board our motorcoach and strike out on a journey northwest to the opposite end of Vancouver Island. This wonderfully scenic route takes us through a sparsely populated wilderness previously accessible only by boat or logging road. Photo stops will be made. We’ll take a mid morning break at picturesque Chemainus, the mural village.
By late afternoon we’ll arrive in Port Hardy, a seaport village at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. We’ll spend the night in Port Hardy. Dinner tonight is included.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 7: Inside Passage
If there is a single high point of this fabulous vacation, it is today’s cruise through the famed Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. Our vessel is British Columbia Ferry’s beautiful 508-foot “Northern Expedition.”
The Inside Passage, which extends from the Puget Sound to the Alaska Panhandle, is a world-renowned scenic destination. Protected on the east side by towering, snow-capped peaks of the Coast Mountain Range and by fir tree-covered islands on our west side, it is a natural marine highway. In addition to the breathtaking scenery, you’re likely to see wildlife such as whales, porpoises, sea lions, majestic bald eagles and herons. The hours of daylight are extensive due to our close proximity to the North Pole.
This spectacular 15-hour cruise will include a Day Cruise cabin with two lower berths, a shower, washstand and toilet. In addition to the all-inclusive buffet, there is a cafeteria serving hearty meals and light snacks. There is outside seating as well as comfortable lounges with relaxing, reclining seats and large picture windows. Enjoy extensive shopping in the Passages gift shop.
When we dock in Prince Rupert late this evening, we’ll be just 40 miles south of the Alaskan border. We’ll continue to our hotel in this picturesque port, known as the Halibut capital of the world. Our hotel for tonight is the attractive Prince Rupert Hotel.
Day 8: Skeena / Prince George
This morning at 8:00 we’ll board VIA Rail Canada’s famed Skeena for our rail journey to Jasper in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. We’ll travel 466 miles today and arrive in Prince George this evening, where we’ll spend tonight. We’ll conclude our trip to Jasper tomorrow. Each of the 720 spectacularly scenic miles between Prince Rupert and Jasper is experienced during daylight hours.
For the next two days you’ll enjoy the Touring Class service on the train. You’ll find comfortable reclining coach seats, access to the Dome Car and three meals each day.
This morning we cross the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia. They rival the Canadian Rockies in beauty. Most of today we follow the Skeena River (Skeena means “river of the clouds”) through rugged canyons, along rapids and beside waterfalls. The mountain views are fabulous. Along a 40-mile stretch, you’ll see many tall totem poles created by local Native American artisans. When we arrive in Prince George at 8:29 this evening, we’ll transfer to the Treasure Cove Hotel.
Meal(s): CB, L & D
Day 9: Skeena / Jasper
We’ll reboard the Skeena this morning and continue our spectacular scenic ride east 254 miles to Jasper. Continental breakfast and lunch are included. By mid-morning we’ll leave the plateau country and encounter the awesome, majestic Canadian Rockies. We’ll soon roll by the spectacular Mt. Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet.
We’ll then cross the Yellowhead Pass, one of the lowest passes along the Continental Divide. We’ll arrive early evening in the quaint mountain village of Jasper. Our home the next two nights is the Whistler Inn.
Meal(s): CB & L
Day 10: Maligne Lake Cruise
This morning we’ll travel to nearby Maligne Lake and embark on a scenic cruise.
Following our cruise we will return to our hotel. You are free the rest of the day to relax or explore the town.
Day 11: Icefields Parkway / Banff
Our travelers will board a deluxe motorcoach and head for the Icefields Parkway, North America’s most scenic highway, where frequent photo stops will be made. We’ll visit the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Falls. A ride out onto the Athabasca Glacier in a Snocoach will be a highlight of the tour. Another high point will be the visit to Lake Louise and its famous Chateau. The setting is one of the most picturesque in the Rockies. A box lunch will be served en route. We will arrive in Banff late afternoon. Our home for the next two nights will be the Banff Caribou Lodge.
Day 12: Banff
This morning we will embark on a Discover Banff Tour. The highlight of the tour will be the gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain for a spectacular view.
You’re free this afternoon to rest, shop along Banff Avenue or visit the Natural History or Parks Canada Museums.
Day 13: Calgary
Our travelers will depart from Banff this morning and continue about an hour-and-a-half to Canada’s fourth largest city, Calgary.
The 626-foot Calgary Tower is one of the city’s major attractions. We’ll enjoy lunch (included) in the Tower’s revolving restaurant and the panoramic view of the city and the nearby Rockies.
Following lunch we’ll visit the Glenbow Museum. Colorful displays trace the history of the settlement of Western Canada.
We’ll continue to Shelby where we will spend the night at the Best Western Shelby Inn & Suites. Dinner tonight will be “on-your-own.”
Meal(s): B & L
Day 14: En Route
This morning we’ll transfer to the Shelby Amtrak Station and board Amtrak’s Empire Builder’s 11:43 a.m. departure for Chicago.. You’ll enjoy the same accommodations and amenities you experienced on the westbound trip. All full-course meals are included beginning with lunch. Go to the Sightseer Lounge car for excellent viewing of the passing scenery.
Meal(s): CB, L & D
Day 15: En Route
We pass through Minneapolis-St. Paul this morning and then head south along the west bank of the Mississippi River. The Empire Builder is scheduled to arrive in Chicago’s Union Station by late afternoon.
Some of our tour members will conclude their tour by transferring to Amtrak trains bound for their home cities. Others will spend the night in Chicago and continue home tomorrow.
Meal(s): B & L
A VALID PASSPORT IS REQUIRED FOR THIS TOUR.