A Complete Guide to Colorado Train Rides – Historic Trains


A Complete Guide to Colorado Train Rides


 Are you seeking an unforgettable journey through Colorado’s mesmerizing landscapes? Step aboard and discover the charm of Colorado’s train rides, weaving through majestic mountains, historic mining towns, and breathtaking canyons. Welcome to “Colorado’s Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Train Rides in Colorado,” your ticket to exploring the Centennial State’s natural wonders via its iconic railways.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll embark on a thrilling adventure through the heart of the Rockies, showcasing the allure of scenic routes like the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Georgetown Loop Railroad, and more. These train rides aren’t just transportation; they’re gateways to Colorado’s captivating history and awe-inspiring vistas.

Join us as we delve into the tales of the Rockies, relive the mining legacies, and soak in the beauty of Colorado’s diverse landscapes. Whether you seek an exhilarating mountain ascent or a journey through steep canyons, these train rides promise an experience that’s both historic and scenic.

So, get ready to witness the grandeur of Colorado’s natural beauty as we guide you through the ultimate train ride experiences, offering glimpses into the past while embracing the present marvels of this picturesque state. It’s time to hop on board and explore Colorado’s beauty through the magic of train journeys.

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History of Railways in Colorado 

The history of railways in Colorado is like a story of how trains helped Colorado grow and change. Back in the 1800s, when people discovered gold in Colorado, they needed a way to move lots of things like gold, people, and equipment. That’s when they started building railways – tracks for trains – all across the state.

One really important railway was the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. This railway was a big deal because it built tracks even in the mountains, making it easier to connect towns and move stuff around, especially mining materials.

These railways weren’t just about moving things. They helped Colorado become richer by transporting valuable things like gold, silver, and agricultural products like cattle and wheat. This made towns like Leadville, Cripple Creek, and Aspen grow and become prosperous.

The railways also connected Colorado to the rest of the United States through a big network of train tracks. This meant that people and goods could easily move between Colorado and other states.

The railways changed more than just the economy. They also affected how people lived and the places they lived in. As more tracks were laid, towns and cities popped up along these routes. This brought people from different places, making Colorado a diverse and vibrant state.

Overview of Notable Train Rides 

1. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

_Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a historic and picturesque narrow-gauge railway traversing the stunning landscapes of Colorado and New Mexico. This railroad, initially a part of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, holds immense historical significance and offers passengers an unforgettable journey through captivating scenery.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad stands as a living relic of the past, showcasing the charm of vintage railways and the breathtaking beauty of the region. Here are key aspects of this extraordinary train ride:

Scenic Splendor and Noteworthy Landmarks Along the Route:

  • The route of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad winds through the majestic San Juan Mountains, presenting passengers with awe-inspiring views of rugged peaks, verdant valleys, and deep gorges.
    • Iconic landmarks like the Toltec Gorge and steep canyons of Los Pinos contribute to the enchanting journey, providing glimpses into the area’s geological wonders.

Onboard Experience, Amenities, and Services:

  • Passengers are transported back in time aboard meticulously restored vintage coaches hauled by authentic steam locomotives, evoking a sense of nostalgia and historical immersion.
    • The train offers a range of cars, including open-air gondolas and enclosed coaches, ensuring a comfortable and scenic experience for travelers of all preferences.
    • Knowledgeable guides narrate intriguing stories about the railway’s history and the captivating landscapes seen along the journey, enhancing the overall experience.

Insider Tips and Recommendations for Passengers:

  • Ideal Travel Seasons: The prime season typically spans from late May to late October, offering pleasant weather and optimal views of the stunning landscapes.
    • Advance Booking: Due to high demand, especially during peak seasons, it’s advisable to secure tickets in advance to ensure preferred seating and accommodations.

2. Georgetown Loop Railroad

Georgetown Loop Railroad

The Georgetown Loop Railroad, nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, is a historic narrow-gauge railway known for its scenic beauty and rich history. This railroad, originally constructed in the late 19th century, offers passengers an immersive journey through picturesque landscapes and historic mining sites.

Scenic Highlights and Historical Landmarks:

  • The route of the Georgetown Loop Railroad winds through breathtaking mountainous terrain, presenting passengers with panoramic views of steep canyons, dense forests, and the rushing Clear Creek.
    • Notable landmarks include the Devil’s Gate High Bridge and the historic mining town of Silver Plume, allowing passengers to witness remnants of Colorado’s mining heritage.

Onboard Experience and Services:

  • Passengers embark on vintage steam locomotives or historic coaches, offering an authentic glimpse into the past while traversing the scenic landscape.
    • Guides provide informative narratives about the area’s history, geology, and the railway’s significance, enhancing the overall journey.

Travel Tips and Recommendations:

  • Best Seasons to Travel: The Georgetown Loop Railroad operates from late spring to early fall, offering ideal weather and captivating views of changing seasons.
    • Reservations: It’s advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure preferred seating and ensure availability.

3. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, operating in southwestern Colorado, is a historic and iconic railway renowned for its breathtaking views and rich mining history. This narrow-gauge steam train journey takes passengers on a captivating trip through the San Juan National Forest and Animas River Canyon.

Scenic Wonders and Landmarks:

  • The railway passes through rugged canyons and pristine wilderness, offering passengers stunning vistas of the San Juan Mountains, cascading waterfalls, and the Animas River.
    • Notable landmarks include the High Line, a narrow shelf carved into the canyon wall, and the historic mining town of Silverton.

Onboard Experience and Services:

  • Passengers ride vintage steam locomotives or historic coaches, experiencing the nostalgia of old-fashioned train travel amidst spectacular scenery.
    • Guides provide informative commentary about the region’s history, geology, and the railway’s role in shaping Colorado’s heritage.

Travel Recommendations and Tips:

  • Optimal Seasons: The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad operates from spring to fall, offering different scenic views based on the season, such as wildflowers in spring or fall foliage.
    • Advanced Booking: Due to high demand, especially during peak seasons, it’s advisable to reserve tickets in advance to secure desired seats.

4. The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, situated near Colorado Springs, is a historic cogwheel train that ascends to the summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s famous “Fourteeners” (peaks above 14,000 feet). This railway is known for its high-altitude adventure and breathtaking views.

Scenic Ascend to Pikes Peak Summit:

  • The railway journey takes passengers on a thrilling ascent through forests and alpine meadows, culminating in panoramic views from the summit of Pikes Peak.
    • Passengers witness the transition in landscapes, from foothills to alpine terrain, and experience the change in climate and vegetation.

Onboard Experience and Services:

  • The cogwheel train provides a unique and comfortable journey up the steep slopes of Pikes Peak, allowing passengers to relax and enjoy the stunning vistas.
    • Guides offer insights into the history of the railway, geological features, and the significance of Pikes Peak in Colorado’s landscape.

Travel Tips and Recommendations:

  • Optimal Time to Visit: The railway operates from late spring to early fall, allowing visitors to witness the changing colors of the landscape, including vibrant wildflowers in spring and autumn foliage.
    • Reservation Advice: Due to popularity and limited capacity, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance to secure a spot on this iconic journey.

5. Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad

Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad

The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, located in the historic mining town of Leadville, offers an immersive journey through the breathtaking landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. This scenic railway tour is celebrated for its stunning mountain views and rich mining history.

Scenic Delights and Historical Highlights:

  1. The railway journey traverses through the picturesque Arkansas River Valley and offers passengers magnificent views of the Sawatch and Mosquito mountain ranges.
  2. Passengers get a glimpse of Leadville’s mining heritage, passing by historic mining sites and learning about the town’s fascinating history.

Onboard Experience and Services:

  1. Passengers embark on vintage coaches or open-air cars, enjoying the scenic journey while guides narrate tales of Leadville’s mining past and the region’s natural beauty.
  2. The train ride offers a comfortable and leisurely experience, allowing passengers to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Travel Recommendations and Tips:

  1. Ideal Seasons to Travel: The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad operates during the summer months when the weather is pleasant and the mountains are adorned with lush greenery.
  2. Booking Information: As seats may fill up quickly, especially during peak times, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance to secure preferred seating.

6. Royal Gorge Route Railroad

Royal Gorge Route Railroad

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad, situated near Cañon City, Colorado, is renowned for its thrilling ride through the steep and awe-inspiring Royal Gorge. This railway journey offers passengers dramatic views of the Arkansas River and towering granite cliffs, providing an unforgettable adventure.

Spectacular Scenery and Landmarks:

  1. The train traverses through the renowned Royal Gorge, featuring sheer granite walls towering over the Arkansas River, creating a striking natural landscape.
  2. Passengers witness the beauty of the gorge, including the famous Royal Gorge Bridge, one of the highest suspension bridges in the world.

Onboard Experience and Services:

  1. Passengers ride in well-appointed coaches equipped with large windows, providing unobstructed views of the stunning landscapes.
  2. The train journey offers narration about the history of the gorge, the bridge, and the geological features, enhancing the overall experience.

Travel Tips and Recommendations:

  1. Optimal Time to Visit: The Royal Gorge Route Railroad operates year-round, offering different scenic views based on the season, such as autumn foliage or winter snow-capped landscapes.
  2. Reservations: Due to high demand, especially during peak seasons, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance to secure preferred seating.

Safety Tips and Practical Information 

Safety Tips and Practical Information 

General Safety Tips

  • Follow Instructions: Listen carefully to onboard staff and adhere to their instructions regarding safety protocols, emergency procedures, and specific guidelines during the journey.
  • Stay Seated: While the train is in motion, remain seated unless moving around is necessary. Use handrails or designated areas when moving within the train.
  • Mind the Gaps: Be cautious of gaps between the train and platforms when boarding or alighting. Watch your step and be mindful of uneven surfaces while walking within the train.
  • Secure Belongings: Ensure personal belongings are securely stored or held, especially during movements or when train windows are open to prevent items from falling out.
  • Emergency Exits: Familiarize yourself with the location of emergency exits and safety equipment on the train, including emergency brake systems and evacuation procedures.

Specific Safety Tips for Train Rides

  • Seating Arrangements: Select seats away from open windows or doors for the safety of children and to prevent accidental falls or incidents.
  • Respect Boundaries: Avoid leaning out of windows or standing near open doors while the train is in motion to prevent potential accidents or injuries.
  • Handling Luggage: Secure luggage in designated areas or under seats to prevent tripping hazards or obstruction of pathways within the train.
  • Motion Sickness: If prone to motion sickness, consider medication or remedies before the journey and choose a seat near the center of the train for a smoother ride.
  • Emergency Contact Information: Keep emergency contact details and necessary medical information readily accessible during the journey.

COVID-19 Safety Measures (if applicable)

  • Mask Compliance: Follow the train company’s mask guidelines and maintain proper mask-wearing protocols if required.
  • Sanitization Practices: Practice regular hand hygiene by carrying and using hand sanitizers or washing hands when facilities are available.
  • Social Distancing: Adhere to social distancing guidelines when interacting with staff or other passengers and respect designated seating arrangements.


Think of riding trains in Colorado as taking a magical trip through time and nature. These trains aren’t just about moving from one place to another. They’re like moving picture frames showing you Colorado’s history and how beautiful it is.

Picture this: as the train moves, you see huge mountains, forests, and rivers. Each train ride tells a different story. One might show you how people used to dig for gold in the past, while another might take you through steep canyons and over tall bridges.

But while you enjoy the views, it’s also important to stay safe. Listen to the train staff, stay seated when the train moves, and keep your belongings safe.

These train rides aren’t just about the journey; they’re about Colorado’s stories and adventures. And when the train stops, there’s even more to explore – like hiking trails, old towns, and bustling cities.

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