Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 3 three-course dinners including a farewell dinner in Denver
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ARRIVE IN DENVER. Welcome to colorful Colorado! At 6 pm, meet your traveling companions for a welcome drink. Your Tour Director will prepare you for your upcoming adventure.
DENVER–ROYAL GORGE ROUTE RAILWAY-COLORADO SPRINGS. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Denver this morning to see historic Union Station, the Mile High Stadium, and the U.S. Mint. Then it’s on to the Royal Gorge for a unique experience, the spectacular ROYAL GORGE ROUTE RAILWAY, noted by President Teddy Roosevelt as “the trip that bankrupts the English language” in 1905. This memorable journey will travel through beautiful scenery, into the Royal Gorge, and along the Arkansas River. Later, travel to Colorado Springs to explore GARDEN OF THE GODS, featuring 300-foot towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snowcapped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies.
COLORADO SPRINGS-ALBUQUERQUE. Depart Colorado Springs and head to Albuquerque, arriving in time for independent exploration of this dynamic city on your own. Located in the heart of New Mexico, Albuquerque offers diverse traditions and experiences including world-class museums, preserved portions of historic Route 66; and is considered the “Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World.”
ALBUQUERQUE. This morning, experience the unforgettable MASS ASCENSION—where hundreds of hot air balloons take off and turn the sky into a virtual rainbow of colors, all of which are led by a balloon flying the American flag to the music of The Star Spangled Banner. What began as a gathering of 13 balloons 38 years ago has since turned into the largest ballooning event in the world, drawing entries from more than 28 different countries. This evening, catch the popular BALLOON GLOW, where all balloons fire up their burners and light up at the same time, and the AFTER-GLOW FIREWORKS SHOW.
ALBUQUERQUE-SANTA FE. After a morning at leisure, leave Albuquerque and drive north to Santa Fe, the oldest seat of government in the United States and an art and cultural mecca. Spend time at leisure exploring the plaza; a National Historic Landmark and the region’s central gathering place for nearly 400 years. Spend time exploring art galleries or the many boutique stores to appreciate why the plaza has been considered a storied trading center for generations. Later, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
SANTA FE. EXCURSION TO CHIMAYO. Experience Santa Fe up close as you embark on a guided TROLLEY TOUR of the many historic buildings, revealing the town’s Spanish, Native American, and early settlers’ heritage. Main sights include the San Miguel Mission, Palace of the Governors, Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, and LORETTO CHAPEL’S “Miracle Stairway.” We then visit nearby Chimayo, which was founded in the 17th century by Spanish settlers. Enjoy lunch at the Rancho de Chimayo, located in a century-old adobe home, serving some of the best New Mexican cuisine. Visit [LF] SANTUARIO DE CHIMAYO and learn about the miraculous healing powers that still attract thousands of pilgrims each year. Return to Santa Fe, where the remainder of your day is at leisure. (B,L)
SANTA FE–BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT–TAOS–DURANGO. Leave Santa Fe, stopping to explore the ancient Anasazi Puebloans and their cliff dwellings at BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT. Next, visit the adobe town of Taos on the high-desert mesa for free time to explore this ancient meeting place. Continue into Colorado and arrive in Durango, a town born in the Gold Rush and silver-mining era. Tonight, perhaps browse the many shops on Main Street, or enjoy a cold pint at one of the city’s local breweries.
DURANGO. EXCURSION TO MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK. Today, visit MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See Spruce Tree House, one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings. Also, visit the museum that depicts the story of the people who once thrived on this 8,000-foot plateau, and stop at a great vantage point for pictures of Cliff Palace (one of the largest of the 700-year-old Anasazi dwellings). This evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
DURANGO–RAIL JOURNEY TO SILVERTON–GLENWOOD SPRINGS. This morning, board the DURANGO & SILVERTON NARROW-GAUGE RAILROAD for a scenic ride through San Juan National Forest. The legendary steam train hugs steep canyon walls as it winds its way through Rio de las Animas Canyon. Arrive in Silverton, once a major mining town that owes its name to the bragging statement by an early miner: “We have no gold, but silver by the ton!” Then, continue to Glenwood Springs for the evening. Why not unpack your swimsuit and head down to the hot springs? The world’s largest and welcoming visitors for over 125 years. Entrance to the [LF] HOT SPRINGS pools are included with your stay.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS–GEORGETOWN LOOP RAILROAD–DENVER. Travel through the beautiful Colorado mountains and board the historic GEORGETOWN LOOP RAILROAD, sit back and relax as you enjoy the beauty of the rugged Rocky Mountains plus views of Clear Creek Canyon. This afternoon, continue east to Denver, where your Tour Director hosts a special farewell dinner. Wonderful conversation and cuisine make the perfect finale for your vacation.
DENVER. After breakfast, bid farewell to your new friends.