Railroading the Rockies
Join us in Colorado to experience the breathtaking scenery of the Rocky Mountains from the windows of historic trains!
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- July 18, 2015
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Calling all train enthusiasts! Join us next summer as we journey along some of the most beautiful and historic railways in the United States. Outside Denver board the Georgetown Loop for a spectacular stretch of narrow gauge railroad that brings you deep into scenic Clear Creek Valley. See some of the steepest cliffs in North America at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, then board the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway for an unforgettable journey through the mountains to historic Durango. Visit the village of Chama, New Mexico, and board the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, constructed in 1880 as part of the Rio Grande’s San Juan Extension to serve the silver mining area of the San Juan Mountains. Follow the winding, tumbling Arkansas River aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railway and view the granite cliffs of Colorado's Royal Gorge. As a finale, take the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the summit of Pikes Peak, a National Historic Landmark rising to over 14,000 feet! Marvel at sweeping vistas of the Great Plains, the Sangre de Christo, and the Collegiate Range.
Day 1 — Arrive at Denver International Airport
Individual arrivals in to Denver International Airport during the afternoon. Check in at the Embassy Suites Denver-International Airport. Gather for a welcome reception, opening remarks and dinner. Embassy Suites Denver-International Airport, 1 night. (D)
Day 2 — Colorado Railroad Museum, Georgetown Loop Railroad
This morning visit the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden for a tour and introduction to rail history of the region. After lunch enjoy the first of many scenic railway rides, the Georgetown Loop Railroad (train journey: 1 hour, 15 minutes). Completed in 1884, the railroad’s circuitous route connected the mining camps of Georgetown and Silver Plume, two miles apart, with an elevation difference of 600 feet. Stop along the way for a walking tour of the Lebanon Silver Mine, see the rich veins of silver that remain and learn about mining history, before continuing on the train. Abandoned in 1939, the line was restored to operation in 1975 by the state historical society of Colorado. Next, drive to Vail Village – a great place to explore on foot. This evening enjoy dinner in the charming village. The Lodge at Vail, 1 night (B, L, D)
Day 3 — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Ute Indian Museum
Drive through a region of Colorado rich in railroading history – including stops in Minturn and atop the summit of Tennessee Pass, the highest point on any mainline railroad in America. Enjoy a visit to the Black Canyon on the Gunnison River, which was once part of the “Narrow Gauge Circle Route” now a national park. Drive to Montrose for a visit to the Ute Indian Museum to experience a beautiful display of one of the most complete collections of Ute Indian artifacts. Drive on to Ridgway for more rail history. Before 1951, Ridgway was the northern terminus of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. This area is also the habitat of the Galloping Goose rail cars. Continue on to the final destination of the day, the charming western town of Ouray, nestled in the spectacular mountain scenery, known as the “Switzerland of America.” Beaumont Hotel-Ouray, 1 night. (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Shuttle to Silverton. After exploring and enjoying lunch in Silverton, board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for your afternoon trip through the canyon of the Rio de las Animas to Durango (train journey: 3 hours, 30 minutes). We’ll end our day at our hotel with the option of soaking and relaxing in the Great Pagosa Hot Spring mineral pools at The Springs Resort & Spa - Ecoluxe Hotel, 1 night. (B, L, D)
Day 5 — Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
This morning we’ll drive to Chama, New Mexico, arriving in time to photograph the narrow gauge engine terminal and rolling stock in this hub of train operations. This train trip will include an ascent of the long, steep grade to 10,020-foot Cumbres Pass and will traverse the rim of Toltec Gorge during the day-long trip to Antonito, Colorado (train journey: 5 hours, 45 minutes). Our day ends in the town of Salida, where an inviting restaurant and hotel next door awaits. Salida Palace Hotel, 1 night. (B, L, D)
Day 6 — Royal Gorge Railroad and Garden of the Gods
Step aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad this morning and experience stunning riverside landscapes, and 1,000-foot canyon cliffs. We’ll enjoy breakfast while on aboard. The scenic railway began as part of the original Denver & Rio Grande main line to Tennessee Pass (train journey: 2 hours). Continue on by motor coach to Colorado Springs and visit the Western Museum of Mining & Industry, a 27-acre indoor/outdoor exhibit site that features a ten-stamp ore mill. Tonight, we’ll stay in the world renowned Garden of the Gods Club and Resort. This evening enjoy dinner overlooking the stunning rock formations. Garden of the Gods Club and Resort. 1 night (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway
This morning, explore the Garden of the Gods Park before setting off to our final train adventure. Z.G. Simmons, inventor of the Beautyrest mattress, founded the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway in 1889. It’s one of only three cog railways in North America and ascends higher than any other in the world. In 1938, it began operating the world’s first internal-combustion powered cog railcar. See one of the steam locomotives it replaced. We’ll ride round-trip to the summit of Pikes Peak and back on an articulated train built in Switzerland (train journey: 3 hours). Return to Denver International Airport late in the afternoon for return flights home after 8:00 p.m. There will be a second stop at the Embassy Suites-Denver International Airport for those who wish to overnight near the airport. (B, L)