Road Scholar : Home
Train Tracks Across the Sierra: Sacramento to Reno and Return

Program Number: 12085RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/27/2013 - 2/1/2013; 9/21/2014 - 9/26/2014; 1/25/2015 - 1/30/2015; 3/8/2015 - 3/13/2015; 5/17/2015 - 5/22/2015; 6/21/2015 - 6/26/2015; 9/6/2015 - 9/11/2015; 9/20/2015 - 9/25/2015; 10/4/2015 - 10/9/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sacramento, California
Price starting at: $929.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Train Treks; On the Road
Meals: 13; 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt    

The building of the railroad over the Sierra Nevada was a triumph of American grit and determination, opening the West to people and goods. Learn about the railroad’s historic impact on the area and its inhabitants, including Native Americans.




Highlights

• Experience the rugged grandeur of the Sierra Nevada from the observation car as your train trek follows this historic transit.
• Field trips include the California State Railroad Museum, Nevada State Museum and the site of the Comstock Lode, Virginia City, with expert-led visits to Fourth Ward School and Piper’s Opera House. Enjoy lunch on the shore of sparkling Lake Tahoe on the return to Sacramento.
• Hear from the author of the definitive book on the Donner Party and visit Donner Memorial State Park and Museum.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to 1.5 miles per day. Must climb 12 steep stairs to board train. Elevations of 7,200 feet.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Sacramento, Calif., 2 nights, train to Reno, Nev., 2 nights; coach to Sacramento, Calif., 1 night; departure.



Coordinated by Road Scholar.




Reno

Located in the high desert region just 22 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe, Reno is a gateway to the plethora of recreational activities in the nearby Sierra Nevada, including hiking, rafting and birding. The nearby Mono Lake International Biosphere Preserve offers unparalleled beauty and more than 300 species of shore birds and waterfowl.



Sacramento

Platted in 1848, Sacramento became home to California state government in 1854. Only 90 minutes from the Bay Area and known for its magnificent Capitol Building and riverfront Old Town with wooden sidewalks and Mississippi-style riverboats, Sacramento has a style worthy of the capital city.



Accommodations
Sacramento: Hotel located across from Capitol Park; Reno: Hotel casino.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Frank Mullen

Frank Mullen was a senior reporter at the Reno Gazette-Journal and now teaches journalism classes at the University of Nevada Reno. He authored a year-long series of Gazette Journal articles in 1997, “The Donner Party Chronicles.” He has appeared on the History Channel’s “History’s Mysteries.” In his spare time, Frank has performed in the Great Basin Chautauqua and around the country, in such diverse characterizations as Babe Ruth, Henry VIII and Albert Einstein.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Hyatt Regency Sacramento
  Sacramento, CA 2 nights
   Harrah's Reno
  Reno 2 nights
   Hyatt Regency Sacramento
  Sacramento, CA 1 night
 Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Newly-renovated Hyatt Regency Sacramento is a AAA Four Diamond luxury hotel located in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown, across from the State Capitol and adjacent to the Sacramento Convention Center. Fresh from a top-to-bottom renovation, the stylish guest rooms include oversize showers and plush Grand BedsTM and 42" HDTV's. Stay connected with complimentary WIFI access in the renovated lobby. Soak up the California sunshine at Sacramento's only resort-style pool.
  Contact info: 1209 L Street
Sacramento, CA 95814 USA
phone: 916-321-3550
web: http://www.sacramento.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels-sacramento/index.jsp
  Room amenities: • 42-inch LCD flat-screen HD TV with cable movie channels, and pay-per view movies • Wireless high-speed Internet access (Fee) • Voice mail, dual-line telephone with data port • Iron, ironing board & individual climate control • In-room safe • Hyatt Grand Bed,™ turndown service available upon request • Full bath amenities and hair dryer • Bathrobes for Regency Club® • iHome® alarm clock radio • Workstation with ergonomic chair
  Facility amenities: 1-800-CHEC K-IN® • Multilingual staff & Concierge services • Business center & currency exchange • Assisted listening devices • Safe-deposit boxes at front desk • Dry Cleaning and laundry services • Valet parking, covered parking Hyatt StayFit™ gym—featuring state-of-the-art Life Fitness® cardio equipment and weights, lockers, and showers • Pool—Large outdoor free-form swimming pool and whirlpool, heated year-round and surrounded by lush landscaping • Nearby attractions—championship golf, river rafting, biking, fishing, and hiking • On site spa services •Vines Café—Breakfast, lunch and seasonal outdoor dining • Dawson’s—Serving premium grade steak, seafood and locally sourced ingredients • Amourath 1819—Stylish lounge and outdoor patio
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call for pricing - see below Contact Brenda Kirian, Director of Sales, at 916.321.3550 to make arrangements for pre/post night stays. Let her know you are with the Road Scholar group so you can remain in the same room.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call for pricing - see below Contact Brenda Kirian, Director of Sales, at 916.321.3550 to make arrangements for pre/post night stays. Let her know you are with the Road Scholar group so you can remain in the same room.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 Harrah's Reno
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Harrah's Reno is a full-service resort located in downtown Reno within walking distance of the Amtrak Train Station. They offer valet, self-parking and complimentary shuttle service to and from the Reno/Tahoe International Airport. They have a full spa, gym and pool as well as a full salon.
  Contact info: 219 North Center Street
Reno, NV 89504 USA
phone: 800-423-1121
web: www.harrahs.com
  Room amenities: Cable TV, pay-per-view movies, dry cleaning and laundry services available, complimentary valet/garage parking, coffee makers, blow dryers, Nintendo Entertainment system, dataports, 24-hour room service.
  Facility amenities: Casino, full spa, gym, pool and a full salon. Multiple restaurants and showroom entertainment.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00 p.m. hotel check in time. 4:00-5:00 p.m. meet in hotel lobby for Road Scholar registration. You will be staying at Hyatt Regency Sacramento that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at 9:30 a.m. Room check out time is 12:00 p.m. You will be staying at Hyatt Regency Sacramento the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is available at the hotel for a fee of $17/day.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sacramento, CA
  Nearest city or town:  San Francisco
  Nearest highway: Interstate 80, Interstate 5
  Nearest airport:  Sacramento International
  From End of Program
  Location: Sacramento, CA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Sacramento

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Super Shuttle
phone: 916-648-2500

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$13/person-recommend calling for current rates
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

approx. 30 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

12 miles

   

Super Shuttle runs an on-demand service with a minimum 30 minute wait. Sacramento International Airport has most major car rental agencies should you choose to rent a car.

 

Sacramento

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Yolobus
phone: 530-666-2877

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$1
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 mins. 

 

Distance:

 

drop off is 4-5 blocks from the hotel

   

Please note: the Yolobus public bus runs from the airport to downtown Sacramento every hour and drops off at 2 downtown locations. The drop off is within walking distance of the hotel but may not be convenient depending on the amount of luggage to be transferred.

 

Sacramento

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Yellow Cab
phone: 916-444-2222

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$36 for a taxi which can take 4 people
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 mins. 

 

Distance:

 

12 miles

   

If possible to share the cab the fare would be more reasonable.

 
Driving Directions
  From I-5 Northbound or Southbound Exit at "J" Street exit and head downtown. Turn right onto 13th St., then right onto L St. Hotel will be on the right, 1209 L St.
  From Sacramento International Airport Take I-5 South and exit at "J" Street. Head downtown. Turn right onto 13th St., then right onto L St. Hotel will be on the right, 1209 L St.
  From San Francisco Take Hwy. 80 east to I-5. Exit at "J" Street. Head downtown. Turn right onto 13th St., then right onto L St. Hotel will be on the right-1209 L St.
Elevation Note: Train travels over the Sierra, elevation 7200' to Reno, elevation 4500'

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check in to hotel, register for the program, refreshment social, dinner, orientation, get-acquainted
(Sunday, January 27)
   
 Arrive To: Check in after 4 p.m. and register for your program in the hotel lobby.
 Dinner: Refreshment social and dinner in the hotel restaurant.
 Evening: Orientation/get-acquainted program in the hotel restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Field trip to the state capitol, Old Town, and the California Railroad Museum. Evening class on Sacramento history.
(Monday, January 28)
   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a full, hot American Breakfast Buffet.
 Morning: Board the motor coach for a field trip to the Capitol building with our local on-board instructor. The building was constructed in the neoclassical style between 1861 and 1874 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 1973, view Sutter's Fort and visit historic Old Town.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Visit the California State Railroad Museum.The transcontinental and Sacramento Valley railroads began in Old Sacramento. The 100,000-square-foot museum is the finest and most visited of its kind in North America, displaying 21 restored locomotives and cars, 1,000 fantastic toy trains, all-new exhibits highlighting the human face of the railroad and the "Lost Spike."
 Dinner: We enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant.
 Evening: Our evening program is a delightful presentation on Sacramento's history with our instructor in period costume.
   
Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Board the train to travel across the Sierra to Reno, lunch on the train, docent narration
(Tuesday, January 29)
   
 Breakfast: Enjoy the hotel's full, hot American Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: We transfer by motorcoach to the nearby Amtrak Depot. Welcome aboard the California Zephyr for your travel adventure to Reno, NV. While on board, you'll be experiencing the utmost in train travel, along with some of California's most spectacular scenery.
 Lunch: Eat lunch on the train with your choice of the dining car or snack bar.
 Afternoon: We arrive in Reno at the newly renovated train depot across from our hotel. As early as the 1850s a few pioneers settled in the Truckee Meadows, a relatively fertile valley through which the Truckee River made its way from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. In addition to subsistence farming, these early residents could pick up a bit of business from travellers along the California Trail, which followed the Truckee westward, before branching off towards Donner Lake, where the formidable obstacle of the Sierras began. Reno is home to a variety of recreation activities both seasonal and year-round. In the summer, Reno locals can boat, fish, water ski and swim in one of the three major bodies of water: Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River, and Pyramid Lake. Winter brings opportunities for skiing-both downhill and cross country, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
 Dinner: We enjoy a buffet dinner at Harrah's.
 Evening: Free time to relax after a busy day.
   
Accommodations: Harrah's Reno
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Field trip to Carson City, Nevada's capital, visit Nevada State Museum, continue to Virginia City, evening class on the Donner Party
(Wednesday, January 30)
   
 Breakfast: Full, hot breakfast buffet in the hotel meeting room.
 Morning: We board our motor coach for field trip to Carson City where we visit the Nevada State Capitol Building. For many years after its 1870 construction, Nevada's capitol building stood a lonely vigil in the center of Carson City. Grounds for the capitol complex had been set aside by town father Abe Curry, but Nevada started out small, and the need for big government had not developed. Now, more than 130 years later, the building is still used, standing as a testament to the foresight of Nevada's founding fathers The Nevada State Museum was originally erected in 1870 as the U.S. Mint, which coined more than $49,000,000 until 1893. The museum hosts about 250,000 visitors each year and has become famous for exhibits such as The Chinese Experience, the Dat So La Lee Washoe Indian baskets and Coin Press No. 1. Nevada's wildlife is also featured, namely the ubiquitous coyote, elusive mountain lion, majestic golden eagle, bothersome badger and the mischievous black bear. The silver dining service from the USS Nevada battleship, fashioned with silver from the Tonopah mine and gold from Goldfield, is also on display.
 Lunch: We eat a delicious lunch at nearby restaurant.
 Afternoon: Our motor coach heads for historic Virginia City. Virginia City was the most important city in the western United States, a place where you could still find fortune and glory. Gold and silver buried in the mountain at one time attracted people from the world over. Follow in the footsteps of the Bonanza Kings, the mine owners who played an important role in shaping America’s economy. Step back in time on a guided visit of the 4th Ward School an authentically preserved 1876 Victorian school building. Sit in the same wooden desks as the children and teachers did from 1876 to 1936 and learn about the unique features of this educational institution. Re-live great moments in theatre in a guided exploration of Piper's Opera House and discover the place where Mark Twain took his pen name and began his writing career.
 Dinner: We are served a delicious banquet dinner in the hotel meeting room.
 Evening: Our evening speaker tells the fascinating story of the Donner Party.
   
Accommodations: Harrah's Reno
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Motor coach returns to Sacramento with lunch stop at Lake Tahoe and visit to Donner State Park Museum, dinner on the Delta King
(Thursday, January 31)
   
 Breakfast: Full, hot breakfast buffet in the hotel meeting room.
 Morning: Board our motor coach for the return trip to Sacramento. We travel to the north shore of incredible Lake Tahoe-an Alpine lake with clear, azure-blue waters-the second deepest in North America. It was originally named “Dao w a ga” by a Washoe tribe of Native Americans. Pioneers who arrived later mispronounced the name as “Da ow,” which eventually evolved into Tahoe. “Dao w a ga” originally meant Edge of Lake. Throughout history, Lake Tahoe has been called by many names, including Lake Bigler after the California governor, Bonpland after a French botanist and Mountain Lake, until 1945, when Lake Tahoe became its official name.
 Lunch: Time for a delightful lunch at a restaurant on the shores of the lake with a great view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
 Afternoon: Back on board our motor coach we head for Donner Memorial State Park for a visit to the Emigrant Trail Museum to view exhibits and artifacts that depict the history of the area and the people who came into this part of the Sierra, including local Native Americans, the Donner Party, and builders of the transcontinental railroad. Then we follow the old highway over Donner Summit to imagine what it would have been like for the pioneers crossing this formidable Sierra pass. To reach California from the East, pioneer emigrants had to get their wagons over the Sierra. In 1844, the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party followed the Truckee River up into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and thus became the first overland emigrants to use the pass. The pass received its name, however, from another group of California-bound emigrants. In early November 1846, the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the eastern side of the mountains. Of the 81 emigrants, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.
 Dinner: We return to our Sacramento hotel then on to the Delta King for a delicious dinner. The historic Delta King riverboat is a completely renovated, historic 1920’s riverboat that plied the Sacramento River between Sacramento and San Francisco from 1927 to 1940. The Delta King and her sister ship the Delta Queen were the finest paddle wheelers of the day; offering charm, grace, elegance, fine dining and live entertainment. Today, the icon of Sacramento is permanently moored in downtown Old Sacramento.
   
Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Sacramento, CA General Overview
While the field trip will include several of the main attractions in the city, there are numerous museums and shopping districts within short distances from the hotel and easily accessible by public transportation. The Sacramento Convention and Visitor's Bureau website provides additional information. For additional information, visit www.discovergold.org
  Reno Reno, NV
Reno has a multitude of cultural activities, as well as outdoor activites and is home to many quality shows. For more information, Harrah's Reno Hotel conceirge service can provide current show and ticket information. The Reno-Tahoe Visitor's Bureau is a good source of information about area activities and attractions. For additional information, visit www.visitrenotahoe.com
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Nothing Like It In the World


Author: Stepphen Ambrose


Description: Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 Comprehensive coverage of the story of the building of the railroad.



Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad


Author: David Haward Bain


Description: Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad by David Haward Bain -Comprehensive coverage of the history of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad



Geology of the Sierra Nevada (California Natural History Guides)


Author: Mary Hill


Description: Geology of the Sierra Nevada (California Natural History Guides) Comprehensive guide to geologic history of the Sierra Nevada



The Donner Party Chronicles: A Day-by-Day Account of a Doomed Wagon Train, 1846-47


Author: Frank Mullen


Description: The Donner Party Chronicles: A Day-by-Day Account of a Doomed Wagon Train, 1846-47 The definitve story of the ill-fated Donner Party, written by a journalist who researched as though writing a news story.



History of the Sierra Nevada


Author: Francis Peloubet Farquhar


Description: History of the Sierra Nevada -This book covers all aspects of the human history from the prehistoric native Americans,Spanish exploration, mountain men, pioneers, 49'ers, railroad, John Muir, national parks to recent utilization and recreation.




What’s included in this Road Scholar program?



Except for the occasional meal on some programs, Road Scholar programs are all-inclusive. That means there are no extra “options,” no passing the hat for tips and no surprises. From lectures and field trips to gratuities and accommodations – the price you pay up front is the price you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:


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