In this Issue:

FEATURED TRIP: Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: Jewels of the Heartland
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: New Year's At The Grand Canyon
BEHIND THE SCENES: Yellowstone’s Pure Blue Waters – and the Vibrant Colors that Surround Them
THE WAY IT WAS: Great Western Limited Vista-Dome
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Alluring Canadian Rockies
DID YOU KNOW? Currents Spa aboard the Louisiane
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: The Biltmore Estate
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Corn, Mushroom and Onion Tart
TRAVEL TIPS: Uncommon Journeys' Distinctions
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA: Centennial of the National Park Service
IN YOUR OWN WORDS: A Letter From a Valued Guest



Guests joining Uncommon Journeys on the 10-day Jewels of the Heartland cruise tour departing September 30, 2016 from Chicago to St. Paul will receive a complimentary hotel stay at the InterContinental Saint Paul at the conclusion of the tour. This offer is valid for bookings made by July 15, 2016*. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for additional information.

Featured Trip

 Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains

Join us on a very special 10-day Fall holiday to the Great Smoky Mountains that includes, in one relaxed holiday, every feature one would hope for on the Great American vacation: easy to get to Atlanta with an overnight stay at the superb Atlanta Hilton, two nights in lovely Asheville, North Carolina with a tour of the fabled Biltmore Estate of the Vanderbilts, two nights in the Great Smoky Mountains at the superb Park Vista Resort with complete touring, and a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

The Great Smoky Mountains burst with the vibrant colors of autumn

While in the Smokies, at the perfect time of the year for Autumn splendor, we travel the Blue Ridge Parkway and visit Cades Cove, with its view of the smoke-blue mountains. We then travel to Nashville “Music City USA” for a two-night stay at the remarkable Gaylord Opryland Hotel before traveling, appropriately, over the Music Highway to Memphis for a two-day visit. In Memphis, we visit colorful Beale St., home of the Blues as well as the famed Peabody Ducks during their fabled afternoon walk through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel. Last but not least, we end our holiday in great style aboard Pullman Rail Journeys with an overnight passage from Memphis to Chicago. Onboard our guests enjoy Pullman sleeping car accommodations, fine dining and a Vista-Dome lounge car. With superb hotels, brilliant sightseeing (all included in the fare), fine dining, the Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville, colorful Nashville and musical Memphis, there is only one key ingredient missing, you!

This remarkable 10-day tour of both natural and man-made delights departs one time only in 2016 on October 8, with pricing starting as low as $2,995 per person. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for additional information.


 Jewels of the Heartland

Prepare to be dazzled by the colors of autumn on this glorious fall foliage journey aboard the Louisiane, purveyor of deluxe river cruises French America Line’s flagship. After arriving in Chicago, guests will overnight in the grand and historic Palmer House Hilton, enjoy breakfast the next morning then be transferred to a private Vista-Dome Streamliner train, the Louisiane Limited, for a unique journey to St. Louis. Relive the heyday of the Golden Age of Rail Travel, then board the Louisiane for her St. Louis departure on Day 2.

In Hannibal, Missouri, pay tribute to Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) at his Boyhood Home and Museum in this welcoming town. Reenact Tom and Huck's exploits if you're feeling mischievous, as Hannibal provided the setting for their quintessentially American adventures.

The elegant Louisiane gently navigates America’s waterways

Appreciate the exploding cultural scene in Davenport, Iowa, founded on the site of the 1832 Black Hawk purchase, host to the yearly festival held in honor of local Bix Biederbecke, the "giant of cornetists", and the excellent Figge Art Museum, and build up your knowledge of early river commerce in Dubuque, Iowa, much as the lumber barons built countless landmarks at this confluence of three states. Ride the Fenelon Place Elevator Co., a historic funicular that affords an unmatched view from atop the bluffs.

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, survey three states atop towering Grandad Bluff, then discover the creative talents of the locals at the Pump House Regional Arts Center. And no visit is complete without a snapshot of the World's Largest Six Pack! You will also find out why the National Trust for Historic Preservation noted picturesque Red Wing, Minnesota, as a distinctive destination for its "impressive architecture and enviable natural environment." Don't leave town without a pair of its eponymous shoes.

Once in St. Paul, admire its Cathedral, a beaux-arts wonder that replicates St. Peter's in Rome, and soak in the arts at the city's world-class museums, including the Walker Art Center. Detour to Minnehaha Falls, best known for Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha.

This colorful 10-day voyage on the luxurious and intimate Louisiane has only one departure in 2016 with prices starting from $4,599 per person, so be sure to book your passage for the September 30 departure before the limited 75 suites and staterooms are fully booked. Do so by July 15, 2016, and you will receive a complimentary hotel stay at the InterContinental Saint Paul at the conclusion of the tour. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for further details.


 New Year's At The Grand Canyon

Join us on a special 8-day New Year's holiday that features one of the most stunning places in all North America in which to welcome the New Year, the magnificent Grand Canyon in all of its pristine winter glory, without crowds and with brilliant sunlit days.

We will travel out to Arizona aboard the famous Southwest Chief train, from either Southern California or Chicago (whichever is closer for you), an overnight journey. We then feature a ride on the historic Grand Canyon Railway right to the edge of the South Rim, overlooking the World's deepest chasm. We will ride in comfort and style over this historic short-line railway, first built by the Santa Fe Railway in 1901 and now restored after an almost 25-year gap, the ultimate way to arrive at this, a most magnificent example of the World’s great natural wonders. We will enjoy a two-night hotel stay right at the picturesque South Rim. We have even included a tour of the South Rim by coach, allowing you to see even more. After two nights at the Grand Canyon, we travel to Las Vegas for a three-night stay at the ultra-luxe Bellagio Resort. With over eighteen restaurants, including famed Le Cirque, the Bellagio is one of the World's greatest resorts and offers the Bellagio Spa for additional pleasure. Even if one does not gamble, between elegant shops, the spa, dining, lounges, and more active choices such as golf, tennis, or swimming, the Bellagio is a superb choice to include in this holiday.

Light sweeps across the expansive Grand Canyon

Each year, we make it a habit of offering a new and unusual destination to ring in the New Year and there is no question as to the appeal of this itinerary and that it will sell out swiftly. We look forward to welcoming you aboard! Hop aboard this unforgettable 8-day New Year’s tour starting December 29, 2016, with prices beginning at $2,295 per person. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for more details.



  Yellowstone’s Pure Blue Waters – and the Vibrant Colors that Surround Them

Busy bacteria give Yellowstone’s springs their distinctive colorful rings

Yellowstone National is one of our guests’ favorite national parks and since this year marks the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, we thought we’d take a closer look at one of the more striking phenomena on display in the Park’s spring-fed pools.

At the center of these distinctive pools, the temperature can be as high as 189 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the water may have traveled over 100 feet from a hot spring beneath the earth’s surface. This temperature is far too high for almost any living thing to survive in (there are always exceptions, of course, but they are scarce enough to not be visible to the naked eye). This causes the water to look extremely clear, and is also the reason for the vivid blue color seen in the image. This is due to the scattering of blue wavelengths, and you can see this same effect in oceans and lakes to greater or lesser degree, depending on the concentration of living organisms. Warmer waters with fewer living organisms tend to be clearer, as any visit to the Caribbean will demonstrate.

However, as the water moves further away from the center, the temperature naturally decreases. Different types of bacteria thrive in different temperatures, so depending on the distance from the hottest point, you’ll have a resident who favors that particular temperature. And each of these bacteria clusters have their own distinctive color, which explains the ochre, chartreuse, crimson and other brilliantly-hued rings surrounding the pool.

If you want to see these vivid prismatic pools yourself, they’re a feature of the following tours:

Starting at only $3,145 per person, we highly recommend you book now particularly if you’ve never been to Yellowstone as this park impresses like few places on earth. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for additional information.



Great Western Limited Vista-Dome

Expect exceptional service when traveling aboard Uncommon JourneysGreat Western Limited

Invariably, one of the most talked-about experiences by travelers on Uncommon Journeys’ train-centered holidays is the time spent gazing at the absorbing American landscape through the gently curving windows of the Vista-Dome car, a beloved feature aboard Uncommon Journeys’ private trains such as the Great Western Limited.

Early experiments in incorporating viewing areas atop train cars go back as far as the 1880s, with the first documented trip being an 1882 sightseeing tour along the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Most of these early designs simply added domes on top of existing cars, and were not met with great enthusiasm. It wasn’t until 1944 that they found new life in the wisdom of Cyrus Osborn of General Motors, who after traveling by rail through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon mused that passengers really ought to have better views of the picturesque journey.

These new viewing cars, as conceived by Osborn, would be custom built and offer 360 degree vistas. Fittingly, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad agreed to revisit the idea they had pioneered decades earlier. Competitors were soon stumbling over each other to refine the concept and lure in not only people traveling from point A to B but also curious sightseers. Pullman entered the game in 1947, exhibiting their models as the Train of Tomorrow at the 1948 and 1949 Chicago Railroad fairs.

These cars were always expensive to run given the expansive window surface, with its attendant climate-control costs among other challenges, and the decline of rail travel in the late 1950s sadly saw most Vista-Dome cars retiring from service. Fortunately, they remained popular for charters and other private travel throughout the decades, and Uncommon Journeys is proud to carry on this tradition of passenger-centered rail travel.

To get a taste of life on the rails in the 1950s, now vastly improved by Uncommon Journeys with deluxe amenities such as fine dining, an attentive staff, open bar and 24-hour access to the Vista-Dome car, you can do no better than travel on the Great Western Limited on one of the following journeys:

Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for additional details.


Alluring Canadian Rockies

Massive peaks surge above the treeline in the Canadian Rockies

The lure of the jagged peaks and lush valleys of the vast Canadian Rockies probably goes as far back as the day humans first set eyes on their dazzling vistas, but for modern man their wide exposure is inextricably liked to the establishment of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Many who had come here for arduous labor were awestruck by what they saw and understood that much more was at stake than simply laying down track.

Some saw commercial opportunity beyond the rails, which led to the establishment of spas and mountain retreats. Others heeded the call to maintain the beauty of this range. Fortunately, those walking the first path understood that preservation was also the key to their success. And that is why today you can still enjoy the Canadian Rockies in their pure, unspoiled majesty.

Starting at only $2,995 per person, you can experience this wondrous panorama on the following trips:

Visit Uncommon at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.

If you’d like to see a photo from one of your own Uncommon Journeys trips featured in our newsletter, just email it to us at and be sure to note in your email that we can use it for marketing purposes.


 Currents Spa aboard the Louisiane

Indulgent treatments in a relaxing oasis

A journey with French America Line, Uncommon Journeys’ new partner and purveyor of deluxe voyages on America’s waterways, is a passage to the sublime. Desires are attended to by the gracious staff, but sometimes there is a craving for that extra pampering that only a spa or salon can provide. The Currents Spa aboard French America Line’s flagship Louisiane offers salon stylings, indulgent manicures, chic pedicures and an array of beauty services all featuring L'Occitane en Provence® products. Of course, a scented oil massage is the ultimate treat, so let your muscles relax and let your mind seek a state of bliss as our masseuse takes you from the cares of the world to a place of higher awareness and complete harmony.

Here are some of the enticing treatments available at the Currents Spa:

  • Bask in the aroma of lavender and vanilla as skilled hands work the tightness from your body and scented oil rich in Vitamin E nourishes your skin
  • With a light-to-medium touch, a Swedish massage will drain stress and rejuvenate the spirit
  • Let go of long-held pain with a vigorous and refreshing deep tissue massage that loosens the knots housing your tension
  • Pamper yourself with a soothing facial as an expert cleanses, exfoliates and moisturizes your skin, leaving you feeling tightened, toned and young again
  • Enjoy a manicure complete with hand soak, cuticle care, shaping of the nails, buff, polish and comforting hand massage
  • Relish a pedicure with nail detailing, exfoliation, massage and foot soak
  • Let a stylist cut and coif your hair until you positively glow with delight

Please visit to learn more about this exciting new river cruise line and don’t delay booking passage, as with only 75 luxurious suites and staterooms, availability is extremely limited. You can also call 1-800-323-5893 for further information.


Luxury in Yellowstone

The Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate has hardly changed since this photograph taken circa 1900

Knowledgeable travelers know that you don’t need to travel to Europe to visit some of the most impressive estates in the world, as the Gilded Age of the late 19th century in America brought about the creation of some of the most architecturally ambitious mansions the world round. And perhaps none is more splendid than the stunning Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

The estate began as the vision of George Washington Vanderbilt, who as a child visiting the Asheville area was struck by the local scenery and began to dream of his “little mountain estate”, although “little” was probably somewhat of an understatement considering his jumping off points were the grand summer estates of his older siblings in tony locations such as Newport, Rhode Island and Hyde Park, New York.

During the construction that began in 1889 and continued until 1896, Vanderbilt enjoyed years of overseas travel to obtain countless furnishings and artifacts dating as far back as the 15th century. This highly curated display of opulence was finally opened to friends and family on Christmas Eve 1895, and subsequent visitors included noted novelists Edith Wharton and Henry James, as well as Presidents William McKinleyTheodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, among many other luminaries.

However, the same economic forces that drove the dismantling or closure of massive estates across the pond (one of the main through-lines of the Downtown Abbey plot) came to bear on the Biltmore, particularly after Vanderbilt died unexpectedly in 1914. One of his last wishes was that the land and the house not be altered, and successive Vanderbilts struggled to maintain this final wish, while retreating ever further into smaller sections of their massive home.

The Great Depression brought about the opening of the estate to the public, a move probably not envisioned by Vanderbilt but necessary in the face of mounting debt. The palatial grandeur of the site and house must have been quite a shock to a visiting populace rattled by economic deprivation.

Surprisingly, the estate remains in the hands of one of Vanderbilt’s descendants, William A.V. Cecil, Jr., who benefited from his father and uncle’s deft management of the site as a tourist attraction throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. Now a National Historic Landmark with over 1 million visitors a year, the Biltmore is an enduring icon of the Gilded Age and an essential stopping point in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.

View the extraordinary Biltmore Estate on our 10-day Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains tour, departing one time only in 2016 on October 8 and with pricing starting as low as $2,995 per person. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for additional details.


President Theodore Roosevelt

Rushing waters cut through fall foliage at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.”
- President Theodore Roosevelt


Corn, Mushroom and Onion Tart

Flaky tarts for any occasion

Often the most dense flavors arrive in the smallest packages. Whether you’re entertaining or looking for a culinary indulgence, these cute and tasty tarts are just the ticket. Here’s another recipe from acclaimed author and chef Regina Charboneau, Chef de Cuisine of deluxe river cruise purveyors French America Line:

Corn, Mushroom and Onion Tart
If you let the skillet get hot enough, there’s no need to add oil when caramelizing onions. I use this technique when I want less liquid in the onions, as when topping pastry with them.

Vegetable oil spray
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 3/4-ounce package), thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels, or frozen kernels, thawed
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 cups button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a large baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.
2. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the puff pastry into a 12 x 16-inch rectangle. Cut the pastry into four pieces. Place the squares on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between them. Bake for 10 minutes. They should begin to puff and brown. Remove from the oven and let rest on the baking sheet. Leave the oven on.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate. Place the corn in the same hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the corn to a clean plate.
4. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Divide the cooled onions among the 4 pastry squares, spreading evenly out to the edge. Spread the mushrooms on top.
6. Bake the tarts until the pastry turns light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Spread the corn evenly over the tops of the tarts. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

You can enjoy Regina’s delectable culinary creations aboard French America Line’s flagship Louisiane on a variety of deluxe cruises on America’s waterways. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 to learn more.


  Uncommon Journeys' Distinctions

Conrad Tausend, professional tour manager and a guest favorite!

There are two ways to travel—one is independently, in which case you need to make all the decisions about where to go, how long to be there, prioritize your sightseeing, etc. The other is to hand over all the logistics to a tour operator and hope for the best. Will you see all the best attractions? Will you have knowledgeable guides? Will free time be available?

For years Uncommon Journeys has honed the balance of features that epitomize an exceptional and seamless holiday, and come up with the perfect formula as summed up in the Uncommon Journeys Distinctions:

  • Relive the Golden Age of Travel in splendid style and grand comfort
  • Private rail cars reserved exclusively for Uncommon Journeys guests with attentive service and fine dining
  • Exceptional travel experiences showcasing classic restored trains, traditional ocean liners, innovative small ships, historic hotels and unspoiled national parks
  • Relaxing multiple-night hotel stays with personalized discovery not often found on organized tours
  • Ample free time for guests to create their own agenda and explore without time pressure
  • Professional and detail-oriented tour managers share their knowledge and love of the places we visit
  • Hidden local stops and special activities exclusively for Uncommon Journeys guests
  • Dine in distinctive local restaurants, not impersonal hotel banquet halls
  • Arise rested and refreshed without early morning departures, pre-dawn hotel check-out times or all-day motorcoach rides
  • Each guest is treated with courtesy and respect rather than herded from place to place on strict timetables
  • Travel in style without boarding a plane or waiting in long lines
  • The best value and most unique vacations in North America 

We hope you have the opportunity to experience what sets Uncommon Journeys apart on one--or more--of our enticing itineraries. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 for more information.


Centennial of the National Park Service

Yellowstone’s reliable and majestic Old Faithful never ceases to amaze.

On August 25 of this year, a momentous event will transpire: our nation’s beloved National Park Service will turn 100. For these past ten decades, the caretakers of these precious lands have been ensuring that the parks remain both a wildlife refuge and a visitor’s paradise for generations to come. We certainly have much to celebrate these days given our unprecedented access to the lovingly protected diversity of landscapes and living things found amongst the 59 parks scattered throughout our great nation.

And yet it wasn’t always that these lands were treasured simply because of their natural beauty and abundant life. Many people labored to ensure the supervision of these territories, but one of the more notable advocates turned out to be our 27th President, William Howard Taft. His purposeful 1912 message to congress was one of the tipping points that let to the creation of the National Park Service: "I earnestly recommend the establishment of a Bureau of National Parks,” he said. “Such legislation is essential to the proper management of those wondrous manifestations of nature, so startling and so beautiful that everyone recognizes the obligations of the Government to preserve them for the edification and recreation of the people.

"The Yellowstone Park, the Yosemite, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the Glacier National Park and the Mount Rainier National Park and others furnish appropriate instances. In only one case have we made anything like adequate preparation for the use of a park by the public. That case is the Yellowstone National Park. Every consideration of patriotism and the love of nature and of beauty and of art requires us to expend money enough to bring all these natural wonders within easy reach of our people. The first step in that direction is the establishment of a responsible bureau, which shall take upon itself the burden of supervising the parks and of making recommendations as to the best method of improving their accessibility and usefulness,” he concluded.

As we’re all aware, nothing happens particularly quickly in government, so it is rather gratifying that the National Park Service Organic Act was signed into law a mere four years after President Taft’s impressive missive by his successor President Wilson on that happy date of August 25, 1916.

You can visit entrancing Yellowstone, the first of the National Parks, with Uncommon Journeys on any of the following itineraries starting at $3,145 per person:



    A Letter From a Valued Guest

“I just returned from a fabulous trip, Springtime in the Canadian Rockies, and we had the pleasure of Don Down’s company. He took such good care of us and each day presented us with our daily schedule. Fabulous idea, and kept us in the know. Good itinerary and great accommodations; ate too much! Loved Don’s sense of humor and his many kindnesses, and I look forward to travelling with him again. Thanks for giving us Don.”
Francis F.

As always, visit us at the Uncommon Journeys Facebook page for the latest news, photos and lively discussions about luxury train travel, our itineraries and the fantastic places we take you. You’ll be among the very first to hear about new trips, new offers and future sweepstakes. Visit or call 1-800-323-5893 to learn more.




 * Note that this is an EXCLUSIVE offer that is made available ONLY to subscribers of this e-newsletter and must be redeemed by calling Uncommon Journeys at 1-800-323-5893. This offer expires on Friday, July 15, 2016 and is only available for new bookings.