A Rocky Mountaineer rail tour requires pre and post planning to make the experience seamless. Two days before, we flew into Salt Lake City. We only had a day here, so we each picked one activity to do. For me, that was the Bonneville Salt Flats, and for the DH, it was the historic Wendover Airfield Museum.
We rented a car for the day and set of. The scenic drive was about an hour and a half, dotted with the unexpected.
We also saw Nessie, a small sea monster made of painted tire parts, but it was too late to grab a photo. See her here.
The Bonneville Salt Flats, located near the Utah-Nevada border, were formed when the ancient Lake Bonneville dried up. The area spans over 30,000 acres. I-80 traverses the salt flats, so you have a variety of views as the mountainscape changes. It’s almost bizarre to see an area so large without any sort of vegetation or wildlife. It almost looks like a frozen tundra.
There is a rest stop where you can pull over and walk on the salty crust. The sunlight reflecting off the salt creates an ideal lighting environment for the best photoshoot ever. Ha!
While there, we saw numerous trucks and motorcycles heading to Bonneville Speedway. The perfectly flat surface is excellent for racing.
Nearby, we drove a few trails and saw Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep. They were not as impressed with us as we were with them. 🤪
We continued heading west to the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum and were welcomed by Wendover Will, the World’s Largest Cowboy.
The Historic Wendover Airfield the most original remaining Army Air Base. The museum was established to preserve the location and resources used in World War II.
- In September 1944, Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets selected Wendover Air Force Base as the training site for the 509th Composite Group, the handpicked B-29 unit that would drop the atomic bombs. It was Lt. Col. Tibbets, ﬂying his B-29, “Enola Gay”, who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945. Source
- Enola Gay -named after Tibbets’ mother – was briefly on display at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, but is now on display at the NASM’s Steven F. Udar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
- The museum is trying to raise funds to restore Enola Gay’s hangar, still at the airfield.
- Also at the airfield is one of the airplanes used in the taxi scene for the movie Con Air with Nicholas Cage.
The museum is small, but to the point. There are some interactive displays, a gift shop, and knowledgeable docents on hand to answer any questions. This is an easy add-on if you’re planning on visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats.
On Day Two, Rocky Mountaineer shuttled us from Salt Lake City to Moab. The transfer time was approximately five hours with two pit stops. We were limited on time for this trip, but if your schedule allows, plan for an additional day in Moab. We did not plan to do any hiking this go round as we knew we’d have spectacular views from the train. (Saving that for a road trip with the teen and tween.) So we cooled down a little at the resort’s pool then explored Main Street Moab after dinner.
Wherever you looked you were surrounded by the Red Rocks.
The next day, our Rocky Mountaineer boarding time was in the afternoon. We took advantage of the leisurely morning and visited the Moab Museum, which focuses on the natural history of the area.
This museum is very small, one room in fact. While we enjoyed our visit, we felt it priced much higher than expected. Perhaps that’s because it’s also a welcome air-conditioned reprieve from triple digits.
I am able to customize your Rocky Mountaineer pre-stay to your interests. This is how we choose to spend our time and offers a little insight into some of the things you can do. For adventure lovers, I am able to offer rafting, cycling tours, small group hiking tours, scenic helicopter rides, etc. Just ask!
Check back for our post-stay adventure!
Think you may be interested in a Rocky Mountaineer: Rockies to the Red Rocks adventure? Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email email@example.com to learn more.