5 to 22 October 2024Location: USA

This tour features some of the most exciting and scenic excursion train rides in six western states of the United States of America during the height of the fall colours in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.  Our tour begins in San Francisco and makes it’s way east ending in Denver, Colorado.  Besides enjoying 24 train rides in these states we will visit 14 spectacular national and state parks on our journey.  We will be using large vans which allows us much more flexibility over a large bus. Each large full size 15 passenger van will have no more than 7 tour members so that everyone will have plenty of room to be stretch out and be comfortable.   There are a number of locations on this tour where a large bus cannot go but vans can.  With the wide variety of trains and the wonderful spectacular scenery this is a great tour for the railfans to bring their wives.  This tour is also perfect for those couples that are not railfans but just enjoy riding on different types of trains through breathtaking scenery.

Price Includes

  • 23 Meals
  • 24 Train Rides
  • 6 Western States
  • 17 Nights Lodging
  • 6 Railroad Museums
  • 5 Railroad Workshops
  • 14 National & State Parks

This tour is run in partnership with our friends at Trains and Travel International in California. Normally about 50% of participants and from the US and 50% from PTG in the UK.

Maximum group size is 24.

From: London Heathrow plus other UK airports (indirect).


This tour will present to you some of the most exciting and scenic excursion train rides in six western states of the USA during the fall colours.

Tour Highlights

  • San Francisco and Denver
  • 24 train rides (many by steam)
  • Six states
  • 14 National Parks
  • Six railway museums
  • Rio Grande
  • Goosenecks State Park
  • Monument Valley
  • Durango to Silverton Railroad
  • Cumbres & Toltec Railroad
  • Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad
  • Napa Valley Wine Train
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Saturday 5 October, 2024 (D)

Arrival in San Francisco. PTG can include direct flights from London Heathrow or indirect flights from other UK airports – or you may of course book your own flights. Arrive at San Francisco International Airport, met and transferred to our Hotel located at famous Fisherman’s Wharf. Evening Welcome Dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf. After dinner we take a tour of San Francisco at night all by rail. The cable car station is just a short 1 block from our hotel. First we ride on the famous San Francisco Cable Cars from Fisherman’s Wharf to Market & Powell Streets in the downtown area. Here we transfer to a Muni Street Car on Market Street and ride uptown to the end of the line at the famous Haight-Ashbury District. On the corner of Castro and Market Streets we go underground and catch one of the newer trams that will take us all the way to the foot of Market Street at the Ferry Building. From this point we go back up to street level and catch one of the classic street cars for the final journey back to Fisherman’s Wharf and our hotel.

The direct British Airways flight to San Francisco departs Heathrow at 14:05, arriving San Francisco at 17:10. If you are aiming for this flight you might want to consider flying out a day earlier. Connecting flights available from Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Book early for the best flight prices

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San Francisco Cable Car (Alamy Images)

Day 2 Sunday 6 October (B,L)

After breakfast we again catch a ride on one the famous San Francisco Cable Cars, this time on a different route than what we rode last night. When the Cable Car passes the car barn we will pause and visit the interesting San Francisco Muni Cable Car Museum. Here at the historic Cable Car Barn & Powerhouse we can view the actual cable winding machinery from an elevated gallery, as well as the path of the cable entering the building and leaving underneath the street. On display are various mechanical devices, such as grips, track, trucks, cable, brake mechanisms and some of the first cable cars. After our barn visit we reboard one of the cable cars and continue on to Market Street. We then transfer underground and catch a tram train that will take us to Cal-Train’s South San Francisco Station. Here we will board a Cal Train southbound commupter running down the Peninsula to the station of Mountain View which is 36 miles south of the city. Here we will transfer to our waiting vans for the journey into the Santa Cruz Mountains to the small town Felton.

At Felton we will be able to get some lunch before boarding the early afternoon Roaring Camp and Big Trees narrow gauge steam excurson that will take us deep into the massive Redwood trees. We will travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain and return. Upon arrival back in Roaring Camp we will board our vans and travel to Santa Cruz and then head north along the scenic coast high way following the Pacific Ocean back into San Francisco. We will continue north crossing over the famous Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where we will have a grand view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco City skyline. We then return to our hotel in San Francisco and rest of the evening at your own leisure.

Roaring Camp and Big Trees

Day 3 Monday 7 October (B)

Early hotel check-out after breakfast and we board one of the San Francisco Muni street cars for a ride along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. Here we transfer underground and board one of the fast BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains for a ride under the San Francisco Bay to Oakland and on to Walnut Creek. Here our vans will transfer us to the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society’s huge HO scale model railroad. They will have an operating session just for our visit.


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California State Railroad Museum (Alamy Images)

After our model railroad visit the vans will take us to Napa Valley where we will board the 11:30am Napa Valley Wine Lunch Train for a nice leisure three hour lunch rail cruise. Upon arrival back at the Napa Valley train station we board our vans for the ride to Sacramento and a visit to the California State Railroad Museum located next to historic Old Sacramento. You can enjoy this world class railroad museum at your own pace and afterwards take a stroll through Old Sacramento which has buildings dating back to 1849.

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Old town, Sacramento (Alamy Images)


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Napa Valley Wine Train

Day 4 Tuesday 8 October (B)

This morning after breakfast we board our vans and travel eastbound up into the foothills of the High Sierra Mountains and into the famous 49er Gold Rush Country. Our first stop will be at historic Nevada City and a visit to the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. We will take a ride of several miles on our charter narrow gauge railcar through the woods. Departing Nevada City we travel to nearby Colfax just in time to board Amtrak’s eastbound California Zephyr which departs at 12:21pm for a spectacular ride over the High Sierra Mountains and famous Donner Pass and down the east slope to Reno, Nevada. You can enjoy lunch in the dinning car if you like. The train arrives in Reno at 3:56pm. Hotel check-in and rest of the evening at your own leisure enjoying the many casinos and live shows of downtown Reno.

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Truckee (Alamy Images)

Day 5 Wednesday 9 October (B)

After breakfast we travel back into the High Sierra Mountains to Lake Tahoe were we will follow the eastern shores of this crystal clear lake of which part of it is in Nevada and part in California. We then drop down into the desert to Carson City, Capitol of Nevada and visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum. After our visit we head up into the famous Comstock Country and visit the wonderful wild west historic mining town of Virginia City. You will have plenty of time to explore downtown Virginia City and take a ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad which was organized on March 5, 1868. The train ride will take us from Virginia City to Gold Hill and return. After our train ride we head south along the east face of the High Sierra Mountains to the town of Lee Vining which is located near Mono Lake. Upon arrival we check-in at our motel and relax for the rest of the evening.

Lake Tahoe
Virginia and Truckee Railroad tourist train runs between Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada, USA
Virginia and Truckee Railroad (Alamy Image)

Day 6 Thursday 10 October (B,L)

After breakfast we depart Lee Vining for the short drive to the shores of Mono Lake for a visit to the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. We will take a walk through the strange Tufa Towers of calcium carbonate. After our visit we continue our trek southbound towards the Mojave Desert and Death Valley National Park. Out of all of the national parks in the United States Death Valley holds the record of being the Hottest, Driest and Lowest national park in the country. This valley holds the record of the hottest place on earth at 134 F (57 C). Don’t worry, on our visit the average temperature is 82 F (28 C). Besides being the driest place it is the lowest at 282 feet below sea level. Also on a clear day one can see the lowest point in the USA at Badwater Basin and the highest point in the lower 48 states which is Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet.

Mono Lake


As we continue southbound we pass through Las Vegas before entering the state of Arizona. We will make a stop to view Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. This dam is 726.4 feet high (221.3 meters) and is the 2nd highest in the United States. After departing from Hoover Dam our next city is Kingman and it is here where we will travel on the famous Route 66 Highway eastbound towards the Grand Canyon following the very busy BNSF mainline. This double track mainline is called “The Racetrack” with freight trains running up to 70 mph and up to 100 trains per day. As we make our way east across Arizona we will stop at a few select locations to photograph some of the BNSF trains. Upon arrival at Williams hotel check-in.

Day 7 Friday 11 October (B,L)

After breakfast we board the Grand Canyon Railway passenger train which departs at 9:30 am and arrives at the south rim of the Grand Canyon at 11:45 am. You will have around 4 hours to explore the trails that run along the south rim. The train departs the south rim at 3:30 pm arriving back in Williams at 5:45pm. We then depart Williams by hiway for the one hour drive to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is famous worldwide for a place to come and relax and leave the everyday stress behind. People come to this area for spiritual and personal enrichment. From healing massage treatments, yoga, spas, salons and retreats, Sedona is said to have something to offer everyone. This area is considered to be a haven for spiritual wellness, due to the numerous energy vortexes that encompass the region. It is said that the massive red rock formations around Sedona give off a special energy that heals body and soul. We will spend two nights here.

Grand Canyon Railway loco 239, a 1977 Amtrak diesel built by General Motors Electro Motive Division
Grand Canyon Railway loco 239

Day 8 Saturday 12 October (B)

Today is a free day to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area. Also Sedona is recognized as being one of the best small cities in the country for the arts and many of the galleries and shops are within walking distance of one another. During your free day in Sedona there are many things that you might want to do such as:

  1. Good time to have your laundry done
  2. Shopping for a souvenir at the many shops and art galleries
  3. Join up with a group that is going jeep four wheelin into the back country
  4. Rent your own jeep for the day and explore the many remote back roads
  5. Get a relaxing massage at one of the many spas
  6. Explore the local antique shops in the area
  7. Visit the local jewelry, gems and mineral shops
  8. Rent a bike and going mountain biking on the many trails
  9. Go hiking on many local trails
  10. Enjoy the local indian craft shops
  11. Sign up for a local tour of the near-by indian cliff dwellings
  12. Take a train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad
Meditation at a vortex in Sedona, Arizona
Meditation at a vortex in Sedona, Arizona

For those tour members interested in this option on the Verde Canyon Railroad excursion train. This is a four-hour train ride from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back – into Arizona’s other “grand canyon”. Captivating panoramic views are revealed in every direction, exclusively from the relaxed atmosphere of the train. This historic rail route runs through a protected corridor at the river’s edge, lined with towering red rock pinnacles, near ancient Indian ruins, over fortified bridges and through a tunnel carved through solid rock over a century ago. As far as the eye can see, wildlife, high-desert foliage and rugged terrain are visible from the train. This train departs Clarkdale at 10:30am returning at 2:30pm. On our way back to our hotel we will make a stop to explore the mining ghost town of Jerome. This option will return to our hotel at around 4:30pm. There is no additional cost for this option.

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Bryce National Park (Alamy Images)
Verde Canyon Railroad. Arizona. USA
Verde Canyon Railroad. Arizona. USA

Day 9 Sunday 13 October (B,L)

We have an early departure today right after breakfast. We first travel north through Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff finally crossing over the Colorado River at Marble Canyon which is 50 miles up river from the Grand Canyon. We then head in a northwest direction towards the state of Utah making a stop at Kanab for lunch. Kanab, Utah is known as Utah’s Little Hollywood. Hollywood has come to Kanab to make 120 movies and TV shows over the past 50 years. Some of the more famous movies and TV shows made in this area are:

How the West Was Won, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Lone Ranger, Death Valley Days, The Flintstones, Planet of the Apes, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Pony Express, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Broken Arrow, The Misfits, Western Union, Six Million Dollar Man,Despardos

After lunch we continue to Zion National Park and spend the afternoon here. Late afternoon we continue northbound to Bryce National Park in just enough time to enjoy the sunset and last rays of light shine on the spectacular rock formations. Then hotel check-in and evening at your leisure at Bryce.

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Grand Staircase Natural Monument (Alamy Images)

Day 10 Monday 14 October (B,L)

After an early breakfast we return to near-by Bryce National Park in time to enjoy the morning sun light shining on the many Hoodoos (odd shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion). Mid-day we depart Bryce and continue eastbound to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and then on to the small town of Torrey and hotel check-in.

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Arches National Park (Alamy Images)

Day 11 Tuesday 15 October (B,L)

Morning visit to Capitol Reef National Park, located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country. Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Water pocket Fold, a geologic wrinkle on the earth extending almost 100 miles. We then continue our trek eastbound stopping in Green River, Utah for lunch. Mid afternoon we visit Canyonlands National Park and then Arches National Park where you will discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations. Hotel check-in at near-by Moab, Utah

Day 12 Friday 13 October (L)

Morning hours to explore Monument Valley as we travel the 17 Mile Drive through the valley to view some of the rock formations with Navajo names like: East & West Mitten, Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, The Three Sisters, Camel Butte, The Hub, Rain God Mesa, and Totem Pole to name a few.

Next, we visit Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.

After spending several hours at Mesa Verde we travel to Dolores, and visit the Galloping Goose Historical Society of Dolores Museum. Galloping Goose No. 5 is the centerpiece of this museum including exhibits that showcase the history of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. We have arranged to have No. 5 in operation for our visit. We end the day in Durango. After hotel check-in for those that are interested we will go a few miles north of town and photographic The Silverton trains.

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Galloping Goose (Alamy Images)

Day 12 Wednesday 16 October (B)

We head south towards the Utah/Arizona border. We will stop in the small town of Bluff for lunch. Just south of Bluff we go off of the pavement and drive through the Valley of the Gods to enjoy the massive formations and pilars of rock. Next we explore Goosenecks State Park in southern Utah near the town of Mexican Hat. Goosenecks is on the edge of a deep canyon above the San Juan River with impressive views of one of the most striking examples of an entrenched river meander on the North American continent. The San Juan River twists and turns flowing a distance of over six miles while advancing one and half miles west on its way to Lake Powell. Gaze at the results of 300 million years of geological activity, where the San Juan River winds and carves its way through the desert 1,000 feet below.

We end our day in the Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Park which is within the Navajo Nation. This park is part in Utah and part in Arizona and we will be spending the night within the Navajo Nation in a wonderful hotel overlooking Monument Valley. This is a sovereign nation within the boundary’s of the United States. You will be experiencing one of the most majestic – and most photographed – points on earth. Monument Valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet, framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding. The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience. We plan to arrive here a couple of hours prior to sunset so that we can get all checked into the classic View Hotel. This Hotel is a Navajo owned business located within the Navajo Nation and the Navajo Tribal Park at Monument Valley. All rooms face east with a private balcony with views unlike anywhere else in world. You can enjoy the sunset as the shadows of late afternoon move across the valley and onto the massive rock formations right from your balcony. As an added plus this is full moon night so the moon will be just coming up in the eastern sky. After the sun sets you can head for the hotel restaurant for dinner at your own leisure.

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Monument Valley National Park (Alamy Images)

Day 13 Thursday 17 October (L)

After breakfast we explore Monument Valley as we travel on a 17 mile loop through the valley to view some of the rock formations with Navajo names like: East & West Mitten, Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, The Three Sisters, Camel Butte, The Hub, Rain God Mesa, and Totem Pole to name a few. Many Hollywood movies have been filmed here such as: Billy the Kid, Fort Apache, 2001 a Space Odyssey, Once Upon of Time in the West, The legend of the Lone Ranger, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Back to the Future Part III to name a few. We then head east towards the state of Colorado making a stop in Cortez, Colorado for lunch before visiting Mesa Verde National Park which offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. After spending several hours at Mesa Verde we travel to Durango and hotel check-in. Evening at your own leisure to explore Durango and enjoy dinner.

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Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (Alamy Image)

Day 14 Friday 18 October (B)

Today we will ride the famous Durango and Silverton Railroad from Durango to Silverton and return a total of 90 miles through the heart of the Colorado Rockies pulled by old time steam locomotives. Before boarding our train in Durango we will visit the Durango & Silverton Railroad Museum which is attached to the workshops and you can even take a look into the old roundhouse. We then board the first train of the day departing at 9:00am and arriving in Silverton at 12:30pm. This train journey will take you deep into the Colorado Rockies to the wild west mining town of Silverton where you will have time to explore and get some lunch before departing at 2:30pm arriving back in Durango at 6:00pm. 2nd night in Durango.

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Cumbres & Toltec Railroad (Alamy Images)

Day 15 Saturday 19 October (B,L)

We have an early start this morning right after Breakfast as we must be in Chama, New Mexico in enough time to catch the 10:00am steam train on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. This excursion train will take us up and over the Rocky Mountains to Cumbres Summit at 10,022 feet and along the rim of the deep Toltec Gorge to Antonito, Colorado. From Antonito we travel the short distance by highway to Alamosa and hotel check-in.


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Garden of Gods (Alamy Images)

Day 16 Sunday 20 October (B,L)

After breakfast we depart at 8:00am and travel by highway to near-by Sand Dunes National Park. Then we travel to Canon City, Colorado and board the 12:30pm lunch train on the Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad for a journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge while enjoying a gourmet lunch. Since 1879, these tracks have followed the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado’s Royal Gorge. The lunch train arrives back in Canon City at 3:00pm. After our lunch excursion we then travel by highway to Manitou Springs arriving at around 5:00pm. We will visit Garden of the Gods rock formations then check-in to our motel. Rest of the evening at your own leisure.

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Royal Gorge (Alamy Images)

Day 17 Monday 21 October (B,D)

This morning we catch the 8:00am train on the Boardmore, Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Our motel is only a few miles from the train station. The 9 miles up to the summit of Pikes Peak is spectacular. Enter Pike National Forest, travel along Ruxton Creek, by Diamond Rock, within the steep rocky walls of Englemann Canyon, past stacked boulder formations, a striking waterfall, and through Deer Park. Move up Son of a Gun Hill, through the Icebox, a cool shaded canyon, past the remains of Halfway House Hotel, eventually moving above timberline, where the views get more expansive. At the summit, which is 14,115 feet you will have views of both the Collegiate and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges as well as the mining town of Cripple Creek and on a clear day you may even see the skyscrapers of Denver.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Additionally on a clear day you can see into the states of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and even Wyoming. Our train arrives back into Manitou Springs at 11:00am. You will then have time to explore the many shops in downtown Manitou Springs and get some lunch. We now head for Golden, Colorado and the famous Colorado Railroad Museum. We then check into our hotel in downtown Golden. In the evening we have our Farewell Dinner.

Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado, United States of America, North America
Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado, United States of America, North America

Day 18 Tuesday 22 October

After a leisure breakfast and check-out we head for downtown Denver which is just a few miles away. On our way to the airport we will visit the Forney Transportation Museum. The Forney Museum of Transportation is a one-of-a-kind collection of over 600 artifacts relating to historical transportation. It began 60 years ago with a single1921 Kissel, but soon expanded to include vehicles of all kinds. Today it includes not just vehicles, but also buggies, motorcycles, steam locomotives, aircraft, carriages, rail equipment, fire apparatus, public transportation , sleighs, bicycles, toys & models, vintage apparel and much, much more! One of the highlights include Union Pacific ‘Big Boy’ Steam Locomotive #4005. The Big Boy is the largest steam locomotive in the world. Finally it is time to head for the Denver International Airport for your flights home. We plan to be at the airport no later than 12:00pm. The direct British Airways flight to Heathrow departs at 19:35. Other flights are available.

PTG are running this tour in conjunction with Trains and Travel International (USA).

Shortened versions of this tour are available if you do not want to do all 18 days.

Shortened versions of this tour are available if you do not want to do all 18 days.

Holiday Prices

  • Full 18-day holiday joining direct flight from Heathrow: from £6,450
  • Full 18-day holiday from San Francisco to Denver: £5,775


  • Single Room Supplement: £950


  • £1,000 plus any flight costs (so total of £1,700 including BA flights)

Cheaper flight prices are available if you don’t mind flying indirect.

Online Booking

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.


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We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Direct Flights

BA287 14:05 Heathrow to San Francisco (arr 17:10)
BA218 19:35 Denver to Heathrow (arr 11:35)

UA939 14:10 Heathrow to San Francisco (arr 17:05)
UA262 20:35 Denver to Heathrow (arr 12:20)