Through traveling by train, Colorado visitors will surely love the magnificent mountains and incredible coastlines along the way. Traveling by train in Colorado. is like traveling between the destination and the origin where all the discoveries are being made. Traveling by train in Colorado will give travelers the chance to see some of the hidden beauty of the country that they did not expect it exists. Scenic views that you can see in Colorado include the impressive Rio Grande, rolling fantastic mountains and more.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
Leave from Silver Plume or Georgetown to ride behind a restored 1884 narrow gauge steam locomotive and explore an 1870’s silver mine. On the six-mile round trip, the train passes over the famous Devil’s Gate High Bridge. The railroad track for the bridge, which is 300 feet long and almost 100 feet above Clear Creek, forms a loop where the track crosses over itself. Because of its remarkable engineering and spectacular scenery, the “Loop” became a popular tourist attraction at the end of the nineteenth century. Tourism and mining faltered during the early part of the twentieth century, and the tracks and the bridge were dismantled in 1939. In 1984 the Colorado Historical Society completed the reconstruction of the railroad and bridge — 100 years after the original bridge was built.
The train is part of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park, which also includes a number of historical buildings and mines. Foremost of these is the restored Lebanon Silver Mine and Mill Complex that can be visited as part of the train ride. Other buildings include the 1884 Silver Plume Depot and Railroad Yards and the 1874 Pohle House.
- Location: Georgetown, CO
- Visit Time: Train ride: One hour and ten minutes
- Mine Tour: One hour and twenty minutes (available only with train ride ticket)
- Season: Open Memorial Day to the first weekend in October; open weekends only after Labor Day
- Train ride: Adult, $16.50; Mine Tour: Adult, $8. Tickets may be purchased at both the Georgetown and Silver Plume stations.
- Directions: From Denver, take I-70 west 45 miles to Georgetown exit 228 or Silver Plume exit 226. Follow signs to Georgetown Loop Railroad.
Durango and Silverton Railroad
In continuous operation since July 1882, this narrow gauge train was built by the Denver and Rio Grande to haul silver and gold ore from the mines in Silverton. It now transports visitors on a 90 mile, round trip excursion between Durango and Silverton along the Animas River and through spectacular scenery in the San Juan Mountains. The coal-fired, steam locomotives used are 1920’s vintage, restored to their original condition. Open gondola cars are available that allow visitors unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. The train has been used as a set for numerous movies, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
- Location: South West Colorado; starts in the town of Durango.
- Visit Time: Approximately 7 hours round trip, including a 2 hour 15 minute stop in Silverton.
- Season: Open early May through late October. Round trip to Cascade Canyon available early March through late May.
- Fee: Adult: $65 to $79; motorcoach return available.
- Visitor Information: (877)872-4607 (toll-free). www.durangotrain.com
- Directions: From Denver, take I-25 south 165 miles to Walsenburg exit 50. Drive west on US 160 for 220 miles to Durango.
Cumbres and Toltec Railroad
First built in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande to service silver mines in the San Juan Mountains, this historic narrow gauge railroad is a throwback to the nineteenth century. The states of Colorado and New Mexico jointly purchased the steam locomotives and tracks in 1970 and opened it for tourists in 1971. The 64-mile route between Antonito, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico winds through sagebrush, 1000 foot deep canyons, and 10,000 foot high mountains. The train normally stops for lunch midway at Osier, Colorado.
- Location: South Central Colorado; starts in the town of Antonito.
- Visit Time: Approximately 8 hours round trip: train from Antonito to Chama, New Mexico and return by motorcoach.
- Season: Open late May through mid-October
- Fee: Adult: $62 to $76, including hot lunch at Osier.
- Visitor Information: (888)CUMBRES (888-286-2737).
- Directions: From Denver, take I-25 south 165 miles to Walsenburg exit 50. Drive west on US 160 for 72 miles to Alamosa. Turn south on US 285 and drive 29 miles to Antonito.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The great beauty of Pikes Peak and the surrounding area inspired author Katherine Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in the summer of 1893 after ascending the mountain in a wagon. Today you can enjoy the same view by riding to the summit on the highest cog railway in the world. Built in 1891, the “cog” railway was constructed with geared tracks that mesh with geared wheels on the train, allowing the train to climb at grades up to 25%. At the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes Peak, the visitor can enjoy panoramic views of the Continental Divide to the Great Plains and visit the snack bar and gift shop at the Summit House.
- Location: Manitou Springs (near Colorado Springs)
- Visit Time: Minimum: Three to three and a half hours, including a round-trip train ride, a 40-minute stay on the summit, and a visit to the gift shop
- Season: Open mid-April through October. The train departs every 1:20 hours starting at 8:00 a.m. during the summer; times vary in the fall and spring.
- Fee: Adults $ 31.00 (July 1 – August 20) RESERVATIONS ARE NEEDED AT ALL TIMES
- Visitor Information: (719)685-5401. www.cograilway.com
- Directions: Exit #141 off I-25; go west on US 24 for 4 miles to Manitou Avenue; left (west) on Manitou Avenue for 1.5 miles; turn left on Ruxton Avenue and go to the end (0.75 miles); depot on the left side of the road (1515 Ruxton Avenue)
Royal Gorge Route
The Royal Gorge Route, which passes through the breathtaking Royal Gorge Canyon of the Arkansas River, has been a popular tourist attraction for well over a century. Originally built to access the rich lead and silver mines of the Leadville District, the railroad had a troubled beginning because of competition between the Denver and Rio Grande (DR&G) and the Santa Fe railroads to gain the rights to the route. This fierce competition resulted in the so-called Royal Gorge War, complete with warring sides exchanging gunfire. The conflict continued for two years in the late 1870s before a settlement was reached in favor of DR&G. In 1882 the railroad became part of an intercontinental passenger route between Denver and Salt Lake City. Until the 1920s, the railroad remained very popular with travelers, including well-known figures such as President Teddy Roosevelt. With the advent of the automobile and airplane however, the train became less profitable and eventually was closed down in 1967.
In 1998 the railroad was purchased and refitted with 1950’s vintage engines and cars for use as a train to carry tourists on the scenic 24 mile trip from Canon City through Royal Gorge and back. Points of interest on the trip include the Hanging Bridge, which was constructed in the narrowest section of the canyon — only 30 feet wide at river level. Engineers were forced to mount a steel A-frame structure to the canyon wall to support the track above the river. Looking up from the hanging bridge, one can see the rims of the canyon towering an amazing 1050 feet straight above. Suspended between the canyon rims is the Royal Gorge Bridge, the “Worlds Highest Suspension Bridge“, constructed in 1929. Considering the many natural and manmade wonders on this route, it is easy to understand how it has persisted for so long as a popular tourist attraction.
- Location: Central Colorado; starts in the town of Canon City.
- Visit Time: Approximately 2 hours round trip; dinner train 3 hours round trip.
- Season: Spring: mid-March through mid-May, weekends only.
- Summer: mid-May through early October, daily.
- Fee: Adult coach: $29.95.
- Visitor Information: (888)724-5748.
- Directions: From Denver, take I-25 south 67 miles to Colorado Springs exit 140 (Nevada Ave.). Drive southwest on CO 115 for 35 miles to Penrose. Turn west on US 50 and drive 11 miles to Canon City.