Utah Budget Family Vacations: Part 2- Train Travel

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Those budget travel guys from Idaho are back! Worldwanderlusting.com is proud to debut the second in a series of guest posts for the Utah Deal Diva.


Part Two: Train-Themed Travel Trifecta

Round two,
everyone. We’re glad you enjoyed our first post about how a family of five could
enjoy a vacation for less than $1000. We took you through Canyonlands, under Arches, and got you
reminiscing about days when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Now
we’ll see what we can do about getting you out from behind the wheel of your
car. Heaven knows that the last thing you need for “vacation” is a roadtrip with
your kids. Obviously, this idea will involve some driving, but not near as much
as last time, and involve another, more unique form of transportation – riding
the rails.
Photo Credit- Amanda Petersen Photography

We’ve always subscribed to a system of travel that includes
education – it makes the experience that much richer. Before our last little
loop, we watched a Netflix video on erosion. We took the kids to the library and
checked out books on dinosaurs, and our Easter gifts were themed for the journey
– an archaeologist kit, a “build your own volcano,” and a butterfly net. For my
own purposes, I watched “127 Hours.” Nothing makes a trip more rewarding than
being able to anticipate things you’ve read about.

Now, I’d urge you to
start playing “Ticket to Ride” on family nights, DVR “Thomas the Train,” and go
out and pick up a copy of Steven Ambrose’s “Nothing Like it in the World: The Men who Built the Transcontinental Railroad.”  Between 1863
and 1869, the United States transitioned its focus from preserving North/South
unity to establishing East/West unity. People knew that such a connection would
unbridle economic growth on an unimaginable scale – and that’s exactly what it
did. In order to make it happen, two companies set out to build. The Central
Pacific Railroad started from California headed East, and the Union Pacific
worked its way West from Nebraska. In a monumental effort that put progress at a
greater premium than cost and even life, they sometimes laid as many as 8-10
miles of rail per day (most days I don’t even walk a quarter of
that).

Interesting, but why do I have you reading all that? Because as
those two teams worked (and competed), the inevitable point of connection became
the state of Utah. With Mormon pioneers contracted for labor grading and
tunneling through Weber River Canyon, the eventual junction became Promontory
Point, and on May 10th, 1869, they drove four golden spikes in a ceremony that
was broadcast via telegraph – the click of the pounding of the spike being the
message in itself. East/West journeys were reduced from six months of toil and
danger to one week of relative comfort. If the thought of seeing this in
reality is intriguing, wait till I tell you that they reenact it every Saturday starting the first of May. It’s $7 a vehicle, or free if you picked up the
NPS Annual Pass on our last little jaunt.

Now, it just
wouldn’t be right to get this enthusiastic about trains and then not take the
opportunity to get aboard. Luckily, Heber Valley Railroad has 16 distinct excursions, one of which
is bound to fit your family. For the little ones, you could opt for the “Day out
with Thomas.” If your kids are a little older, maybe you’d want to do the “Reins
and Trains,” which also includes a horseback ride. These trips aren’t exactly a
bargain but every once in a while, they offer gift certificates for 50%
off.

Now, to complete this
train-travel-trifecta, make a visit to the Union Pacific Depot Building at Gateway Mall. Chances are that you’ve seen the historic building on your trips
to the Gateway before City Creek turned it into a ghost town, but now that
you’re a train aficionado you’ll have a greater appreciation for the history
contained within this building. All of the sudden, the ceiling mural depicting
the driving of the Golden Spike has much more meaning to you.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the second in our series of Utah budget
family vacations brought to you by WorldWanderlusting.com. If you’re a cost-conscientious world
wanderluster in need of travel tips, please bookmark our site and visit us often. If
we’ve inspired you further and you’re curious about using travel points to book with Amtrak, check in on our blog
and wanderlust with us.

Jessica’s Addition: On your way back from Brigham City, consider stopping by the Utah State Railroad Museum at the Union Station in Ogden! It’s a fun little place where you can see full sized locomotives. It’s only $15 for a family pass too!

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One thought on “Utah Budget Family Vacations: Part 2- Train Travel

  1. Kamaile says:

    My son loves trains. Even a ride on TRAX is fun for him. I think a destination vacation riding Amtrak would be fun. I just have to convince my husband to do it. :)

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