Great Northwest Explorer
June 19th thru June 30th, 2014
Chicago, Portland, Seattle and Whitefish
This summer we will be operating an exciting private railcar tour of the Pacific
Northwest. We begin our journey in Chicago headed west behind Amtrak’s Empire
Builder for Portland. We will wind our way across Wisconsin and then head up the
Mississippi and Red River valleys to reach Grand Forks. From there we will turn
west across North Dakota where we will see the center of the oil fracking industry
near Williston. All around you will see phenomenal growth and change. The route
west of Minneapolis is the former Great Northern all the way to Spokane, WA.
Once we enter Montana we will cross a series of Native American
reservations and rolling hills before we begin to see mountains at Cut Bank
Montana. Then we enter the long climb to remote Marias Pass, the lowest crossing
of the Rockies. Overnight we will pass through the Yolo National Forest and remote
timber country. You will likely awaken in Eastern Washington, which is essentially a
very arid Steppe region with low rainfall. From here we turn south through wine
growing and apple growing regions to reach the Columbia River. Clinging to the
north face of the gorge our train winds along with the river and the mountains to
obtain a level route into Portland. The Columbia River is a wild river capable of
strong winds and fascinating animals including sturgeon that can range up to 14 feet
in length! We arrive in Portland at 10am.
Portland is an excellent city with plenty to see during our day and a half stay
here. The city is a world-class public transit system. You may consider visiting the
steam locomotives at OMSI or take in some shopping in the Pearl District. Portland
is famous for having the largest bookstore in the Western Hemisphere at Powells
which is easily reachable by transit.
From here we travel north to Seattle along Puget Sound behind Amtrak’s
Coast Starlight arriving into Seattle late at night. You will have plenty of time to
explore Seattle and take in a sightseeing bus tour or ride one of the many ferries to
Bainbridge Island or other locations. For those with interest and passports, we are
planning an overnight tour of Vancouver as an optional extra.
After Seattle we will follow the Great Northern route along Puget Sound and
over Stevens Pass to reach Whitefish Montana. Here our cars will be detached from
the train and stored for two days while you are transported to the Grouse Mountain
Lodge. You will have one free day at the lodge as well as an included tour in the
famous red Jammers of the Glacier National Park. NOTE: We were originally
scheduled to be at the Izaak Walton Inn; however they can’t handle our group for
Once you re-board the train we will continue to follow the same route we arrived on
back to Chicago. Thankfully in this direction you will get a much better view of
Minneapolis/St. Paul as well as the scenic trip down the Mississippi River.
While you may have enjoyed riding the Empire Builder before in the Amtrak
consist, nothing compares to having your own private dome car to rest and relax!
A detailed itinerary and outline of the trip is below.
Thursday June 19th Today we will depart Chicago behind Amtrak train #7.
Boarding begins at 1:00 PM with a 2:15 PM departure. (Passengers from Nebraska
and Iowa may choose to come Wednesday June 18th and spend the night in
Naperville, IL.) Dinner and bar service will be served en-route to Minneapolis.
Overnight we will pass through St Cloud and Fargo.
Friday June 20th Breakfast will be served this morning as we Minot. With the flood
of oil workers Minot is changing and fast! Lunch and dinner will be served today
along with bar service. We reach the Rocky Mountains by evening.
Saturday June 21st This morning we cross the Cascades as we glide along the
Columbia River towards Portland. Breakfast will be served. Lunch and dinner are on
your own. Your bedroom will serve as your hotel room. The cars will be closed from
noon to 4pm. The new Portland Streetcar line now connects directly to the train
station allowing you easy access to the entire city.
Sunday June 22nd You are free to tour Portland. Breakfast and lunch are on your
own. After servicing our train we will join the northbound Coast Starlight to Seattle.
Everyone should be onboard by 3:30pm. Dinner will be served onboard the train.
Arrival time is 8:45pm
Monday June 23rd Today we will be parked in Seattle’s King Street Station.
Continental breakfast included. Lunch and dinner are on your own. The station is
next to the light rail line. You are just a few blocks from Pioneer Square. Visit the
Market, Space Needle and the baseball and football stadiums. Cars will be closed
Tuesday June 24th Continental breakfast. Full day to visit Seattle. Lunch and
dinner on your own. Optional overnight trip to Vancouver BC on Amtrak’s
Talgo train. Contact Adam or Roger for cost which includes roundtrip Amtrak ticket
Wednesday June 25th Continental breakfast. Full day to visit Seattle. Lunch and
dinner on your own. Guests return from Vancouver overnight trip. Cars remain
parked in King Street Station. Tonight we will likely move to the Amtrak Seattle yard
for servicing. If this occurs cars may be without power for a period of time.
Thursday June 26th Continental breakfast. Lunch on your own. Today we ready
our train for departure to Whitefish. We will be traveling behind Amtrak train 8
departing at 4:40pm. Everyone needs to be back at the train by 4:00pm. Dinner will
be served after departure. We will take a very scenic route along Puget Sound and
then over the Cascades through Cascade Tunnel. The seven mile tunnel is one of the
longest railroad tunnels in the Western Hemisphere.
Friday June 27th Breakfast at 6am MST. We will arrive into Whitefish, MT at
7:46am. All guests will detrain for a two night stay at the Grouse Mountain Lodge.
Pack a small bag and be prepared and ready to go. A bus will take you to the Grouse
Mountain Lodge. Meals at the Inn are on your own. Relax and enjoy this charming
hotel and its many nature and hiking trails.
Saturday June 28th Today everyone will be going on an all day Jammer tour of
Glacier National Park. These traditional red cars are a Glacier Park institution!
Sunday June 29th We will board 7:26am this morning for the trip back to Chicago.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served onboard the train.
Monday June 30th Breakfast will be served as we arrive in Minneapolis. We travel
down the scenic Mississippi River valley to LaCrosse WI and through Wisconsin to
Milwaukee and south to Chicago. Lunch included. Everyone detrains at Chicago
COST FOR TRIP
Two persons in a Double Bedroom $6000
One person in a Double Bedroom $5500
Observatory (lower level of dome car)
Suite A $7500
Double Room B $6000 (double bed, shared shower with C)
Double Room C $6000 (double bed, shared shower with B)
Room A, B, C (King Suites w/shower) $7500 SOLD OUT
Room D (Double Bedroom w/Shower) $6750 SOLD OUT
Room E (Suite w/bunk beds, shower) $7000 SOLD OUT
Room F (4 bed drawing room, shower) $7250 SOLD OUT
Roomettes Available $3250.00
1 Double Bedroom Available $5500
HOTELS: Two night stay at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. Hotel is
included with your tour. Once you book your trip and I receive a deposit, I will
book a hotel room for you. If you cancel your booking, the hotels cancellation
terms apply. We are purchasing one room per room bought on the train. If you
need more than one room let me know and I will book it for you at market
JAMMER TOUR: We will include a Jammer tour of the park. This will also be
booked when you mail in your deposit.
OPTIONAL: Seattle Hotel: We can book you a room in Seattle for part or all of
your stay. This allows you to take a break from the train. Cost is
approximately $185 per night.
A $500 deposit is required to reserve space for the trip. We assign rooms on a first
deposit first choice basis. If you are the first double room customer you can get your
pick of rooms or will be assigned the nearest open room to the center of your
Payment can be made by Check or Money order.
Checks/Money Order should be made payable to Altiplano Railtours and mailed
7256 Gerard Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55346
Roger is working on trip insurance for this trip, it is highly recommended you get
this as it will protect you in case of a death in the family, emergency issue, health
Cancellation refund rules: 100 days prior to the start of any tour you will receive a full
refund. 99 to 61 days before the departure of any tour you will receive a 50% cash/50% travel credit refund. Any cancellations received 60 or less days before the start of any tour will not receive any refund. These cancellations rules apply to everyone. We highly recommend talking to Roger about Trip Insurance to cover you in case of accident, health issue, or a similar problem. The cost is very low per person.
Altiplano Railtours reserves the right to make equipment changes without notice and to make schedule changes with notice.