If you had your heart set on spending upwards of $1,500 a day on a luxury train tour of national parks next year, you'll have to settle for either Amtrak or your own rig. It turns out that this project isn't leaving the station.
Backers of the American Railway Explorer had expected to begin riding the rails between Crater Lake, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton national parks, among others, next year, with packages proposed to start at roughly $900 a day and which could have quickly climbed to $1,500 a day.
What would you get for those costs? The Denver-based railroad was promising "world-class food, comfortable on-board accommodations, and memorable on- and off-train experiences."
Initially bankrolling the project was billionaire Philip Anschutz, whose company in the fall of 2008 bought Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which operates lodgings in Yellowstone, Death Valley, Crater Lake, and Zion national parks, as well as the Grand Canyon Railway that runs from Williams, Ariz., to Grand Canyon National Park.
However -- and perhaps not too surprisingly, in light of the fares -- the company has derailed the project. Without explanation.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall, though. The American Railway Explorer had purchased some of its rolling stock from The American Orient Express, which also offered luxury train travel to national parks but which reached the end of the line in August 2008 when its owners filed for bankruptcy. Its rates, for comparison's sake, ranged from $620 to $927.50 per person per day for an eight-day journey to Mount Rainier, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton national parks.