New Trip! - Great American West

February 21, 2017
By Kevin R. Tam, President

Here at Uncommon Journeys, we’re excited to announce an all-new trip for 2017, our 13-day Great American West train tours departing April 9 and October 1, 2017. It is with great pleasure we debut this holiday that offers up a stunning collection of some of the greatest National Parks in the country, all in one elegant trip. Any vacation that includes Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce & Zion National Parks, plus an overnight stay at the Grand Canyon along with the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest along with two spectacular resorts, one at the start and one at the end of our trip in the form of Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab and the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, is an exceptional experience.  By combining it with our private classic streamliner, the Great Western Special our guests enjoy a style of overland travel that disappeared decades ago. Last but not least, our passengers will traverse two scenic routes by train, the fabled Denver & Rio Grande Western “Mainline through the Rockies” with a daylight passage through the Colorado Rockies and the daylight crossing of the Continental Divide at Raton Pass on our journey back to Chicago.

Aboard the Great Western Special guests enjoy comfortable Pullman sleeping cars (with beds, soft pillows and in-room facilities), a swank Observation Lounge car with rear facing windows look aft at the receding track, elegant dining (all meals, wines & spirits are included) and superb service. With a sensible pace, comprehensive, intelligently planned sightseeing, combined with large amounts of free time, a professional tour manager and much more, this program is certain to be popular and is limited to just 24 guests. There is simply no finer way to tour the Great National Parks of the Southwest. All Aboard!

The many joys of private train travel aboard the Great Western Special.
Photo courtesy of Pullman Rail Journeys.

DAY 1: All Aboard
All Aboard! Guests are greeted at Union Station by our host and escorted to the Great Western Special where classic Pullman sleeping car accommodations await. Our train departs at 2:00 pm with drinks served in the swank Observation Lounge as we roll West over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, followed later by dinner, shortly after we cross over the Mississippi River.

DAY 2: Grand Junction, CO
This morning is a visual feast as we travel into the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies over the storied Denver & Rio Grande Western Route. This was always the most celebrated rail route West and you will soon see why. We arrive Grand Junction, Colorado in late afternoon, the largest city on Colorado's Western Slope, with its awe-inspiring natural beauty and the dramatic red rock landscape of the Colorado National Monument. Our motorcoach will meet us for our hotel transfer to downtown Grand Junction. This evening is free for you to explore this colorful and lively city

The mountain drama of Red Cliffs Lodge.

DAY 3: Moab, UT
The morning is yours to enjoy relaxing, taking a leisurely stroll downtown or visiting Enstrom's Candy, an institution from 1929. After lunch we visit the Colorado National Monument where panoramic views of towering red rock structures are just one reason why the park is a favorite among travelers in search of Colorado's best vistas. The scenic Rim Rock Drive stretches 23 miles through the park, offering awe-inspiring views along the way before our arrival to Moab, Utah and the magnificent Red Cliffs Lodge, possibly the best of all our hotels, with its stunning location on the Colorado River. We know you will long-remember this outstanding resort, a clear favorite of our thousands of delighted guests here over the years.

DAY 4: Arches & Canyonlands
We tour Arches National Park this morning. The forces of nature have acted in concert to create the landscapes of Arches, which contain the greatest density of natural arches in the world, over 2100 amazing formations. The highlight of the afternoon is Canyonlands National Park, a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River. After a spectacular day of scenery tonight is our welcome dinner.

Stunning Arches National Park.

DAY 5: Bryce Canyon
Our drive today takes us past an amazing collection of National Parks en route to Bryce Utah and we will drive through the rugged landscape of Capitol Reef National Park, hideout for the infamous Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. We begin the first of our two night stay at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. One of the truly nice aspects of this holiday is the luxury of two-night hotel stays in many places.

DAY 6: Bryce Canyon
Wondrous views are on tap today as we visit Bryce Canyon National Park, famed for its strange orange and red rock formations called 'Hoodoos' that are formed by erosion over the centuries and just when you think scenery could not become any better. Many tours rush Bryce and Zion into one packed day. We prefer to have two full days to take in all of the visual splendor of these extraordinarily National Parks.

The beauty of Zion National Park.

DAY 7: Zion
Today is a glorious day as we drive into stunning Zion National Park. Early settlers were so inspired by Zion's beauty that they bestowed exalted names on the park's natural features. See East Temple, the Court of the Patriarchs and the Great White Throne. Afternoon at leisure to relax in your magnificent setting or pursue park activities. You may wish to take the free Zion Canyon shuttle or perhaps hike the Park's scenic walking trails. We then continue onwards toward the picturesque town of Kanab, which is often called "Little Hollywood" because of its film-making history over the years.

DAY 8: Grand Canyon
This morning, an early departure takes us to the Grand Canyon National Park. No Matter how many times one has seen the Grand Canyon, it never fails to inspire awe and we include a short walking tour today, leaving the balance of the evening at leisure in this magnificent setting. Happily our hotel is at the South Rim so extraordinary views are on top for today.

Incomparable Grand Canyon National Park.

DAY 9: Grand Canyon
Since one can never have too much time in this stunning setting, we have left this morning at the South Rim at leisure, for you to do what you want and see what you want at your own pace. You might also want to visit the fabled El Tovar Hotel, build by the Fred Harvey Company and the iconic Grand Canyon Hotel. There are many museums, hiking trails and scenic lookouts to fill your day. At 2:00pm we leave for Winslow, Arizona for our overnight at wonderfully restored historic La Posada Hotel.

DAY 10: Navajolands
After breakfast we will enjoy the expansive vistas as we travel east across Arizona. Skirting the Navajo Indian Reservation, we drive through the Petrified Forest National Park – an ancient land with million-year old petrified logs offering unusual scenery. Watch the colors of the Painted Desert change with the daylight shadows as we drive through. After lunch, we continue towards enchanting Santa Fe where we begin our two-night stay at the famed Tamaya Resort & Spa.

The beauty of the Painted Desert.

DAY 11: Santa Fe, NM
After breakfast our day begins with a 10:00am morning tour of the historic Plaza area. We have left all afternoon free for you to enjoy the multitude of galleries and museums that make this one of the most magical small towns in North America. The Georgia O'Keefe Museum is not to be missed! The evening is at leisure to enjoy one of the many acclaimed restaurants.

DAY 12: All Aboard!
Today we enjoy a leisurely breakfast before a 1:15pm departure for our private train, the Great Western Special bound for Chicago. Tonight is our special Farewell Dinner after we cross the Continental Divide at Raton Pass. We are traveling over the former route of the legendary Super Chief which in turn followed the original Santa Fe train west. Overnight on the Great Western Special.

DAY 13: Welcome Home!
We cross the Mississippi River this morning and arrive this afternoon into Chicago's Union Station with new found friends and memories to last a lifetime.

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