Day 1: Depart Chicago
Western Canada Scenic Expedition tour members will meet the Tour Director in Chicago’s Union Station. Early this afternoon we will board Amtrak’s Empire Builder for the 2:15 p.m. departure. Relax in your comfortable private Roomette or Bedroom sleeping accommodations. Go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car for spectacular viewing. Enjoy a tastefully prepared dining car dinner this evening.
Day 2: En Route
During the day we will roll across the remote flatlands of North Dakota and eastern Montana. Late this afternoon we’ll arrive in Shelby, Montana.
Upon arrival we will check into the Best Western Shelby Inn & Suites, our home for the night.
Meal(s): B & L
Day 3: En Route / Banff
Following a Continental breakfast at our hotel. We will board our motorcoach for Canada’s fourth largest city, Calgary.
We will visit 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.
We will board our motorcoach and travel to Banff. We will arrive late afternoon.
Our home for the next two nights will be the Moose Hotel & Suites.
Meal(s): CB & L
Day 4: Banff
Following an included breakfast at the hotel we’ll 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 5: Icefields Parkway / Jasper
Following breakfast we will board our 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 Jasper late afternoon. Our home for the next two nights will be the Best Western Jasper Inn & Suites.
Meal(s): B & L
Day 6: Maligne Lake Cruise
Following breakfast we’ll board our motorcoach and 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 7: Skeena / Prince George
A full breakfast is included in the hotel this morning. You are free to relax or explore this morning. We’ll transfer to the Rail Station and board VIA Rail Canada’s famed Skeena for our 466-mile rail journey to Prince George. Departure is scheduled for 12:45 p.m.
For the next two days you’ll enjoy the Touring Class service on the train. You’ll find comfortable reclining coach seats and access to the Dome Car. Lunch and dinner will be served en route.
Each of the 720 spectacularly scenic miles between Jasper and Prince Rupert is experienced during daylight hours.
We’ll cross the Yellowhead Pass, one of the lowest passes along the Continental Divide.
We’ll soon roll by the spectacular Mt. Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet and soon be in the plateau country.
Arrival into Prince George is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. Upon arrival we will transfer to the Treasure Cove hotel, our home for the night.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 8: Skeena / Prince Rupert
This morning we’ll transfer to the VIA Rail station where we’ll board the Skeena for the 8:00 a.m. departure to Prince Rupert. All meals are included on the train today.
Along a 40-mile stretch, you will see many tall totem poles created by local Native American artisans. We’ll 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.
When we arrive in Prince Rupert 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.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 9: Inside Passage
Early this morning we’ll transfer to the ferry dock. If there is a single high point of this fabulous vacation, it is today’s cruise through the famed Inside Passage from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy. Our vessel is British Columbia Ferry’s beautiful 508-foot “Northern Expedition.” We will depart at 7:30 a.m.
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.
Port Hardy is a seaport village at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The Ferry is scheduled to arrive at 11:30 p.m.
Upon arrival we will transfer to the Pier Side Landing Hotel, our home for the night.
Day 10: Port Hardy / Vancouver Island
Following an included breakfast we’ll board our motorcoach and strike out on a journey 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 Victoria. We’ll check in at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites where we’ll spend the next two nights. Dinner is included at our hotel tonight.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 11: Victoria
Breakfast is included in our hotel this morning. We’ll board our motorcoach and visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens, a 35-acre tapestry of brilliant colors. You will have time for an “on-your-own” lunch.
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 will return to our hotel. You are free to shop and to visit other attractions this evening.
Day 12: Victoria / Vancouver
Breakfast is included at the hotel. We will board our motorcoach and transfer to the ferry dock.
At 9:00 a.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 Vancouver.
You’ll have time for an “on-your-own” lunch at Granville Island with its public market, brewery & thriving artist community.
This afternoon we’ll embark on a sightseeing tour of the city. The tour will include Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, English Bay, Marine Drive, the waterfront and Queen Elizabeth Park.
Our home for the night is the attractive, centrally located Blue Horizon Hotel.
Day 13: Vancouver
You are free this morning to relax or explore Vancouver.
Following lunch we’ll board our motorcoach and travel to Everett, Washington where we’ll board the Empire Builder for the 5:39 p.m. departure for Chicago.
Roomette sleeping accommodations and all dining car meals are included. Upgrades to Bedrooms are available for an additional cost.
After settling in you can go to the sightseer lounge to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Day 14: En Route
Enjoy a delicious dining car breakfast and then head for the Sightseer Lounge car. Today a dramatic panorama of snow-capped 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 15: En Route to Chicago
Breakfast and lunch on the train are included. After we go through Minneapolis-St. Paul, we head south along the west bank of the Mississippi River. The train winds between the river bank and high bluffs. Later in the morning, we pass through the picturesque Dells Country of Wisconsin. The Empire Builder is scheduled to arrive in Chicago’s Union Station late this afternoon.
At the conclusion of the tour some travelers will continue to home destinations. Others will spend the night in Chicago and continue home tomorrow.
Meal(s): B & L