Wednesday, May 9, 2012

National parks by rail

Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park
National Parks in the United States and Canada are the cornerstone of many travelers’ summer vacations. They are also the centerpiece of more than 65 of Vacations By Rail’s well-planned independent and escorted train vacations throughout North America. Rail vacations to popular parks include iconic trains, legendary rail routes, and unmatched scenery.

“Many National Parks were made popular by the railroad, so it seems especially fitting to visit them today by train,” said Todd Powell, president of Vacations By Rail, a Chicago-based tour operator and rail travel specialist.

Of North America’s 90+ National Parks, Vacations By Rail offers itineraries to 17 within the United States and 7 in Canada. In addition to independent city stays connected by scenic rail travel, Vacations By Rail offers escorted tours that combine rail and coach travel as well as independent rail-drive and rail-cruise packages.

Examples of popular favorites include:

The 7-day Empire Builder with Glacier National Park features travel from Chicago aboard the Empire Builder train to Glacier National Park for a 4-night stay and plentiful sightseeing along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the heart of the park's ecosystem, before continuing on to Seattle. Departures daily from June 17 to September 10.

Geyers like Old Faithful are found
throughout Yellowstone NP
California Zephyr with Yellowstone is a relaxed 8-day rail-drive vacation, letting travelers dictate what they see and do. This “at your leisure” vacation includes travel aboard the California Zephyr from Chicago to Salt Lake City and from Salt Lake City to San Francisco, 4-day car rental, sightseeing in Yellowstone National Park, and accommodations. Departures are available daily from May 1 to October 7.

The 11-day Yellowstone & Glacier By Rail escorted rail tour takes travelers across the storied western frontier including visits to Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks as well Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, and the National Oregon/California Trail Center. Tour includes travel aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr and Empire Builder, accommodations, sightseeing and entrance fees, select meals, services of a tour director, and more. Departures June 22, July 20, August 8, and August 17.

Rocky Mountain National Park
The 15-day Canada’s Rockies & Alaska Cruise combination tour incorporates touring in Banff and Jasper National Parks and travel aboard VIA Rail’s Canadian train with a Holland America Alaska cruise calling at popular portswithin Alaska’s Inside Passage. Departures are available May 18, June 15, July 13 and August 10.

Best of the Rockies takes travelers on an 8-day rail journey through the Canadian Rockies aboard two famed trains, VIA Rail’s Canadian and the Rocky Mountaineer, with visits to two of western Canada’s renowned National Parks, Jasper and Banff. Additional highlights include excursions to the Columbia Icefield and Lake Louise and stays in Kamloops and cosmopolitan Vancouver. Departures are available on Thursdays from May 5 to September 29.

For more information, go to or call 1-877-929-7245.

Information courtesy of Lynne Bobak
Photos by Beverly Burmeier

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