Bonanza and Paradise Tours

Printed on ordinary (if slightly off-white) legal-sized (8-1/2″x14″) paper, this 1968 poster-brochure advertised a 15-day “Bonanza” tour to California and Las Vegas on one side and an 8-day “Paradise” tour to Colorado on the other. These tours were dramatically stripped down from the Burlington Escorted Tours offered in the 1930s through early 1950s.

Click image to download a 1.6-MB PDF of this 2-page brochure.

Only a few meals, mainly lunches, were included in the $300 (more than $1,500 today) double-occupancy price of the California-Vegas tour, which also covered only coach class on the California Zephyr. To avoid supporting rival Southern Pacific and Union Pacific trains, the tour went by bus from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Reno, where it caught the eastbound CZ.

The Colorado tour price of $145 ($750 today) was also for coach seats, but at least it included all meals except when aboard the Denver Zephyr. However, unlike the California tour, which visited major cities such as San Francisco, L.A., and Vegas, the Colorado trip took place entirely at a dude ranch/motel called Paradise Ranch. The highlight of the tour was two day-long and one overnight horseback riding trips.

Paradise in 1968 apparently consisted of a motel with a swimming pool and horseback riding.

Open from 1937 (some reports say 1944) to 1975, Paradise Ranch claimed to be the “most magnificent and largest dude ranch in the United States.” The Ute Pass Historical Society says it was just east of Woodland Park, or about 18 miles west of Colorado Springs. The ranch held public rodeos on Sundays which Burlington tourists would have missed (they arrived Monday and left Saturday).

Paradise Ranch memorabilia is readily available. The route from Colorado Springs to the ranch was once followed by the Colorado Midland Railway, but now is U.S. highway 24, though several railway tunnels still exist.


Bonanza and Paradise Tours — 1 Comment

  1. What a crappy tour to SF and Vegas. Most of your time is going to be riding around on a bus or sitting up all night in a coach seat. Strangely enough, all four hotels you stay in are owned or controlled by Del Webb, who was a known mob consort in 1968. I’ll bet he and the Boys also owned the bus company you were using. It was bad enough having to take a bus from LA to Vegas but, after having only one full night there at the Fabulous Thunderbird, another Del Webb property, you climbed back on the bus for your eight hour drive up Highway 95 to Reno. I like the desert, and have driven this stretch of highway many times, but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy to be taken through the howling wilderness by bus while munching on your box lunch. Unless you really like the desert, there’s not a thing to see in those 500 or so miles except mesquite and yuccas…and Tonopah.

    You get one lousy night at the Mapes in Reno (another hotel turning into a dump in 1968) to recover from your bus trip from Vegas. You then had to get back on another bus at 4:30 pm to make a backward trip from Reno to Portola Ca because that’s where you get on the WP without having to pay any money to the SP to transport people on any part of this tour. Now you get to sit up in the coach for the next two nights.

    Horrible trip at a very high cost. At least most of your costs were included with the dude ranch tour, and you didn’t spend a good part of the time being driven around in a bus to avoid the SP.


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