May 17, 2010

Breaking News: Luxury Train Between Napa & Santa Fe Coming in 2011

I had heard rumors of this, but today got solid word: a new luxury passenger train company, Denver-based American Railway Explorer, will begin offering Western and Transcontinental excursions in the summer of 2011.

Excursions will showcase much of the country and several national parks, providing a "rail cruise" experience that includes fine cuisine prepared by an onboard executive chef and staff using sustainable and locally-produced ingredients. With three excursions originating or ending in Napa Valley, and the fourth traveling through California's agricultural belt, chefs will have plenty of local sources from which to choose.

Last year American Railway Explorer purchased 1950s-era vintage railcars (currently undergoing restoration and improvements). The company's equipment includes 11 sleeper cars, one lounge/piano car, two dining cars, two dome cars and an observation car. Passengers will have onboard luxury accommodations (the train will also include staff accommodations). The trains will travel largely at night, allowing passengers to disembark for day excursions, which can include interpretive guides.

Here's the lineup of excursions:
  • The eight-day Southwest Explorer will operate between Napa, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico.This excursion will include guided Napa tours; Yosemite National Park; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Grand Canyon National Park; Williams, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M. and Santa Fe, N.M.
  • The Northwest Explorer, also an eight-day trip, will travel between Napa and Jackson, Wyo. with stops in Crater Lake National Park; Glacier National Park; Helena, Mont.; Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. This excursion will also include a narrated daytime run through the Columbia River Gorge along the Oregon-Washington border.
  • The Transcontinental Explorer will be an 11-day tour operating twice in 2011 between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. with stops in San Francisco, Sacramento, Denver, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Shenandoah National Park and Washington, D.C. This excursion will also feature narrated daytime runs through the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Rocky Mountains through Utah and Colorado and along Lake Erie.
  • The four-day West Coast Explorer will operate between Napa and Los Angeles with Napa Valley winery tours and stops at attractions along the way, including the Hearst Castle and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
As you'd imagine, all this luxury won't be cheap. Rates will start at about $900 per day for the West Coast Explorer, and run up to $1500 for the Transcontinental Explorer.

That's all I know at this point. I'm trying to ascertain where the operation in Napa will be located. The official website has not yet launched. I'll keep you informed.

All aboard!

No comments: