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Explore the Colorado Rockies by train as you travel round-trip from Denver by standard and narrow gauge railways to summits of over 14,000 feet. Numerous train rides include Denver's Light Rail (trolley) line, Amtrak's legendary California Zephyr, the narrow gauge Silverton and the Cumbres and Toltec scenic railways, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railway to the Climax Mines, the Georgetown Loop narrow gauge circle line, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad through the depths of the canyon and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad from Alamosa over La Veta Pass to the little village of La Veta.
This tour has significant interest for both train buffs and others. Even those with no interest in railways will love the remarkable vistas from Colorado's trains. Non-rail sightseeing includes traveling through the mountains between Ouray and Telluride, a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park, ancient Anasazi Indian cliff dwellings, ghost towns, and sublime scenery ranging from vast deserts to alpine peaks. You visit the great resorts of Glenwood Springs, Ouray, Durango, Silverthorne and Colorado Springs.
Durango & Silverton Railway
Garden of the Gods National Park
- Hotel accommodations for 11 nights
- Scenic rail excursions
- Sightseeing and attractions admissions per itinerary
- Meals as oulined in the itinerary
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Motorcoach transportation
- Transfers during the tour (does not include arrival/departure transfers)
- Luggage handling
Day One - Denver
Arrive in Denver with the afternoon at your leisure. Downtown Denver has a vibrant historic district and is served by Denver's great new Light Rail System. A nice option would be a ride on the new Southeast Line, which is nearly 25 miles long! An all-day pass is only $6.00. Meet your tour manager and fellow travelers at your hotel at 6:00 pm for a Welcome Dinner. We'll take a short light rail ride to a historic restaurant. Overnight Comfort Inn Downtown. (D)
Day Two - California Zephyr through the Rockies to Glenwood Springs.
We depart this morning for the finest scenic journey on the entire Amtrak system, the California Zephyr's crossing of the Rockies. Our streamlined double-decker Superliner follows the Union Pacific's former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Moffat Route west. We begin with a 4,000-foot ascent to the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel through the yawning abyss of the South Boulder Canyon. At Plainview, the view encompasses three states. The great 6.2 mile-long tunnel takes us through the Continental Divide (the "Crest of the Continent") and into the drainage of the mighty Colorado River. We follow a succession of ever deeper and grander canyons: the Fraser, Byers, Gore, Red and Glenwood. Glenwood Canyon, a 6,000-foot deep slash in the ranges of the western slope, ends at the lovely resort of Glenwood Springs. We detrain here and overnight at the Hotel Denver, a Victorian jewel located right at the railroad station. The world's largest outdoor hot springs pool is just across the river, two blocks walk from the hotel and open this evening for a swim. Pool admission is included. Overnight Hotel Denver. (B)
Day Three - Grand Mesa / Ouray
Our first scenic drive occurs as we follow the increasingly arid canyons of the Colorado River west through Rifle and Palisade, and then begin the ascent and crossing of Grand Mesa. The nearly flat summit of this 10,000-foot mountain is incised with dozens of tiny lakes and an immense forest of aspen and tall pines. After descending to the apple orchards and ranches near Delta, we have an included lunch at the Apple Shed Gallery before continuing south into the awesome San Juan Mountains. Enroute we make a stop to visit the new Ridgeway Railroad Museum. The night will be spent in the spa town of Ouray. This picturesque village lies in an amphitheater of giant peaks with waterfalls plunging into the village from the heights above. Overnight Ouray Chalet. (L)
Day Four - Uncompahgre Canyon; Red Mountain Pass; Telluride; Lizard Head Pass.
This morning we take a drive through Uncompahgre Canyon, past Black Bear Falls, to the summit of Red Mountain Pass. We then return to Ridgeway and turn west over Dallas Divide for Telluride. Enroute to Red Mountain Pass we see narrow gauge railway traces and well-preserved ghost towns. From Ridgeway to Telluride and Durango we closely follow the abandoned grade of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad across the top of the world.
The RGS was the most remote of the Colorado Narrow Gauge Lines and invented the "Galloping Goose" railcar. This was a Buick on rails for use on days when traffic wouldn't justify a real steam-powered train. See a preserved "Goose" at the railway museum in Dolores. The RGS route includes the open Dallas Divide with excellent views of Mount Sneffels and Lizard Head Pass, traces of the Ophir Loop, and vistas of lovely Trout Lake.
Mid-day we stop for lunch on your own and shopping in Telluride. The entire center of town is a National Historic Landmark. Another option during your visit is to ride the aerial tramway for lunch at the ski resort high above the valley. This afternoon, we visit the Anasazi Heritage Center to learn of the "ancient ones": Native Americans who built the cliff dwellings of the Southwest. Our home for two nights is a landmark in Durango and a true Victorian treasure located adjacent to the active depot of the steam-powered Silverton train. Overnight General Palmer House Hotel.
Day Five - The Silverton Train
The entire day is devoted to the grandest of all Colorado rail journeys and one of the most spectacular in the world, the steam-powered Silverton train's ascent of the Animas River Canyon to the "ghost town" of Silverton. Built as the Silverton Branch of the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG), today's Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway operates 45 miles north from Durango through scenery that approximates Switzerland.
The climb begins in the broad lower valley of the Animas River before the canyon narrows, all roads vanish, and for 30 miles there exists only the railroad, the glacial green waters of the Animas and the 12,000 to14,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains mantled with blazing aspen forests. We have a mid-day layover in Silverton for lunch and time to explore the shops and galleries before an afternoon return to Durango. Our return opens new vistas of the High Line and the mighty San Juans. Overnight General Palmer House Hotel. (CB)
Day Six - Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.
Early this morning we drive to Chama, NM to board the longest narrow gauge steam railway in North America. The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad follows the former Denver and Rio Grande San Juan Extension for 64 miles over 10,033 foot Cumbres Pass through the heart of the San Juan Mountains. Powerful 2-8-2 "Mikado" engines power the train up the 4% grade to the Pass, often double-heading for the ascent. Past the divide, the train enters the deep canyon of the Rio des los Pinos (River of Pines). For 50 miles no paved road crosses the tracks. We stop for an included luncheon at Osier, then descend steeply past Toltec Gorge. We cross and recross the Colorado/New Mexico border enroute to our destination at Antonito in the vast San Luis Valley. Overnight Inn of the Rio Grande in Alamosa. (CB, L)
Day Seven - Rio Grande Scenic Railroad over La Veta Pass.
Today we enjoy Colorado's newest (yet historic) rail line, the standard gauge Rio Grande Scenic Railroad which we ride from Alamosa to La Veta. This line restores passenger service to wildly beautiful La Veta Pass, a summit last crossed by regularly scheduled passenger trains over 50 years ago. Weekend service on the line is normally powered by a restored former Southern Pacific 2-6-0 steam engine, or a former Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-0. A picnic lunch is included during our layover in La Veta plus free time to explore this charming little town. On the return trip to Alamosa, we depart the train at Fort Garland and visit the Great Sand Dune National Park. Here the endless easterly flow of the winds across the vast San Luis Valley has created towering sand dunes which rise up to 750 feet above the valley floor against the westward flanks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Overnight Inn of the Rio Grande in Alamosa. (L)
Day Eight - The Royal Gorge via two different trains
The Royal Gorge beckons. The Arkansas River bisects a tall plateau between Parkdale and Canon City, creating a gorge over 1200 feet deep with sheer cliffs towering above. The canyon is so narrow at the bottom that the D&RG railroad constructed a unique "Hanging Bridge" anchored
on both sides of the canyon, thus running the tracks suspended over the center of the river! Once this was the most famous train stop in the west; and all services on the original Rio Grande Railroad mainline paused here for pictures. A thousand feet above is the spectacular Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, the highest such span on earth.
We view this awesome sight on two different trains. First we explore the canyon's depths, riding the newly restored Royal Gorge Route Railroad passenger train on the historic former Rio Grande Railroad tracks. As an added treat, we travel in the First Class vista-dome car today with an included lunch. A highlight of the journey is the stop at "Hanging Bridge" in the narrowest point in the chasm. Next we visit the soaring Suspension Bridge and ride the inclined railway from the rim to the river's edge! After an amazing day, we drive to Colorado Springs. Overnight Antlers Hilton Hotel. (L)
Day Nine - Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Today we drive through the stunning red-rock monoliths of the Garden of the Gods enroute to Manitou Springs. Here you board the world's highest cog railway, the Manitou Springs and Pike's Peak Cog Railway, and ascend to the 14,110 foot summit of Pike's Peak, which inspired the writing of "America the Beautiful."
Lunch is included at Giuseppe's Old Station Restaurant in the former Colorado Springs depot of the Rio Grande. This afternoon we drive west into the high peaks following the abandoned routes of the Colorado Midland and South Park railways to Silverthorne. Overnight La Quinta Inn and Suites. (L)
Day Ten - Explore Leadville; train to Climax.
We visit the highest city in North America today, the former silver mining town of Leadville, which lies at over 10,000 feet elevation. We begin the day with a ride on the last miles of the former Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad. The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad now operates the former South Park route up Fremont Pass. This line was built to three-foot gauge, then converted to standard gauge during World War II to handle the huge surge in mine traffic during the war. The views from this line are among the grandest in Colorado, offering open vistas of the perpetually snow-capped high peaks of the College Range. Later, we'll visit the historic Tabor Opera House, the Baby Doe Tabor Cabin/Matchless Mine and the new National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. Overnight La Quinta Inn and Suites. (CB, L)
Day Eleven - Georgetown Loop Railroad / Colorado Railroad Museum.
We make our last crossing of the Great Divide enroute to the ghost town of Silver Plume, where we ride the steam-powered narrow-gauge Georgetown Loop Railway. This former Colorado and Southern narrow-gauge line faced an almost insurmountable engineering challenge in conquering the dramatic rise between the silver-mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume. In an airline distance of just under two miles, the C&S engineers gained over 600 feet in elevation by resorting to a 4½-mile route including a high trestle and a complete loop. Once a world-renowned landmark, the line was torn up in 1937, then rebuilt by the Colorado State Historical Society as a tribute to railway men of the boom era. The scenery is unbelievably grand! While in the beautifully-preserved Victorian town of Georgetown, we'll explore the fascinating Hotel de Paris, which still contains all the original furnishings from the 1880's. We'll enjoy a farewell lunch in Georgetown's historic center.
Later we explore the superb Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, which has a priceless collection of Colorado standard and narrow gauge relics. The treasures here range from 120-year-old steam engines to original "Galloping Goose" railcars and the diesel engines that powered the Rio Grande Zephyr and Royal Gorge trains. Our last tour night is again at the Comfort Inn Downtown in Denver. (CB, L)
Day Twelve - Tour ends.
Our tour ends with independent departures by rail or air this morning. (CB)
Per Person Rates:
If you like this tour, you'll love our Colorado Rail Adventure tour!
- $2,999 per person (double occupancy)
- $3,699 per person (single occupancy)
Prices are land-only, per person based on double occupancy. Single pricing is available upon request. Prices are are correct at the time of this web page going live; however, are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
Call 877-929-7245 today to book your Colorado By Rail Tour.
CB = Continental Breakfast, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner