Narrow gauge, standard gauge or cog, Colorado offers train enthusiasts a plethora of rail experiences. Even if you aren't a train fan, the scenery on these historic trains is unparalleled and, in many cases, unable to be seen any other way. Here is a listing of eight of Colorado's finest iron horses.
Season: May 19 - Oct 8, 2008
Departing from: 5th & Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek
Description: This railroad offers a trip through the mining district of Cripple Creek aboard a 2-foot-gauge, coal-fired steam locomotive.
Duration: 45 minutes
Other Important Information: Train departs every 40 minutes.
Cost: $11; over 65 - $10.00; ages 3-12 - $7; $1.00 off for AAA and active military w/ID
Contact: 719-689-2640; www.cripplecreekrailroad.com
Season: May 24 - Oct 19, 2008
Departing From: Jct. SR 285 & SR 17 in Antonito
Description: The railroad operates the Colorado Limited which travels from Antonito to Osier, where it connects with the New Mexico Express, which continues to Chama, NM. Available: all-day, round trips & one-way trips. The trip is on vintage narrow-gauge, coal burning steam trains through the San Juan & Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges.
Duration: Depends on trip, from 6 - 8 hours.
Other Important Info: The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad operates coaches with windows that open. There are reserved seats as well as an open observation car. Parlor car guests ride in a carpeted and paneled coach featuring open seating, complimentary snacks & attendant service. The C&TS ranges in elevation from 7,863 to 10,015 feet. Due to the changes in altitude & the variability of the weather, layered clothing is recommended. A hat and sunscreen are recommended if you plan to spend time outside or riding in the open observation car.
Cost: Coach seating is $65 to $79 for adults & $32.50 to $39.50 for children ages 2 through 11. Parlor cars are $129 to $134. There are no child fares for the parlor car, and every passenger-including children-must purchase a ticket. All fares include an all-you-can-eat hot lunch served at the remote railroad town of Osier, Colorado. Reservations suggested.
Contact: 1-888-CUMBRES; www.cumbrestoltec.com
Season: May 3 - Nov 1, 2008
Departing from: Durango
Description: Trains, powered by a coal-fired steam locomotive, run through the mountains of the San Juan National Forest following the Animas River to Silverton. The line has been in continuous operation since 1882. Seating is available in an enclosed coach or open-air car, first-class parlor cars are available on many runs.
Duration: 9-hour round trip
Other Important Information: The coal-fired engines may emit cinders and soot. Dark clothing and sunglasses are recommended. Least crowded times are May - early June and in October. Food is available.
Cost: $75; ages 5-11 - $45; under 5 not occupying a seat are free of charge. First class cars, $99 to $159; Train fare includes entry to museum. There is a fee to park. Reservations should be made well in advance.
Contact: 877-TRAIN-07; www.durangotrain.com
Season: May 24 - October 13, 2008
Departing From: Silver Plume Depot or Devil's Gate Station in Georgetown.
Description: At the train park there is an 1884 depot, several original mines and reconstructed mine buildings, an 1871 mill building, a locomotive maintenance building & the 1874 Pohle House. Once aboard, you will travel a two-mile loop between Georgetown and Silver Plume ascending 640 feet over mountainous terrain. Along the route, there is a guided tour of the historic Lebanon Silver Mine & opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
Duration: One hour & 15 minutes
Other Important Info: Restrooms are located at each depot and at the mine, but not on board the train. The railroad operates open cars, rain or shine, so be ready with appropriate clothing for mountain weather changes.
Cost: Round Trip Fares: $21.50 for adults; $16.50 for children (15 and under); ages 2 & under are complimentary (when sitting on an adult's lap).
Contact: 1-888-456-6777; www.georgetownlooprr.com
Season: May 24 – Oct 5, 2008
Departing from: 326 E. 7th St. , Leadville
Description: Enjoy scenic narrated railroad trips through the Colorado mining country from Leadville to Climax. Wildflowers & wildlife may be seen along the way.
Duration: 2 hours & 30 minutes
Cost: $28.50; ages 4-12, $16.50Contact: 719-486-3936 or 866-386-3936; www.leadville-train.com
Season: Begins May 24 – Oct 19, 2008
Departing From: Alamosa–LaVeta; Alamosa–Antonito; Alamosa–Osier; Alamosa–Monte Vista daily. Weekend schedules from: LaVeta–Alamosa with 2 hours for lunch and shopping; Alamosa–Fir; LaVeta–Fir; LaVeta–Great Sand Dunes. Great Sand Dunes route includes 2 hours at Great Sand Dunes National Park, motorcoach from rail route to Park plus park admission.
Description: On a standard gauge rail, the San Luis Express leaves from Alamosa to LaVeta, Fir or the Great Sand Dunes and is a turn of the century steam engine with full dome cars and standard coach cars.
The Toltec Gorge Limited travels south to Antonito, where passengers disembark to board the steam-powered Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad which travels into Conejos County, through tunnels & eventually alongside the Toltec Gorge. A lunch stop is made in Osier & then the train returns to Antonito where passengers again change trains to return to Alamosa.
The new Monte Vista Mixed is a combination freight and passenger car train with routes from Alamosa to Monte Vista. The Monte Vista is steam powered on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and is diesel powered other days.
Duration: Allow 8 hours minimum for the Express and 10 hours for the Limited
Other Important Info: The Express departs at 9:00 a.m., the Limited departs at 8:15 a.m., the Monte Vista departs at 9:30 a.m. Cost: $12 to $152; over 64 - $10 to $138; ages 3-12 - $8 - $134.
Contact: 1-877-7CO-RAIL; www.alamosatrain.com
Season: Winter/Spring: Feb 2 – May 18; Summer: May 24 – Oct 12, 2008
Season: Summer dates not currently available