All aboard for fun!
Colorado was built on the rails of the many railroads that once crisscrossed our state. Today, you can take a trip into the past and have a seriously good time on many of the restored trains and routes the state has to offer.
Of course, this year, things look a little different from last year, as each train line has implemented social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures, but the scenery is still just as beautiful and the ride is more than worth it. And, honestly, you might actually get a little more room and a little less background noise to enjoy your trip than has been offered in the past. We've listed a few of the requirements of each railroad, but be sure to check out all the guidelines on each train before you go.
So, let's check out the trains you can ride, and some of the special, exciting excursions each offers this summer!
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama
Courtesy of Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (Facebook)
Get on board with this 64-mile day trip that is sure to create memories. A coal-fired steam engine will carry you through steep mountain canyons, high desert, and lush meadows as you zigzag between the Colorado and New Mexico border. Several classes are available, and a lunch buffet is included with all rides. You can take a full-day train trip, or several train-bus excursions to fit your party's needs. Half-day excursions perfect for families with small children are also on the schedule.
The Cumbres & Toltec offers several special trains through the summer, including a wildflower and botany train, 4th of July train, speakeasy train, and so many more! Many are just one-day-only affairs, so check out the full list for more information!
Special Guidelines: All passengers are required to wear a mask (you can purchase one at the depot if you don't have one). Other COVID-19 operating details.
Colorado Railroad Museum
Courtesy of Colorado Railroad Museum (Facebook)
This museum is more than just a train ride—it's everything trains and railroad history! You can see the museum's large collection of rolling stock and the Roundhouse restoration facility, as well as hop a ride on the on-sight train rides that take you into Colorado's past. This is an especially great museum for those who love trains; small children who might not be able to take a full train trip or those who simply want to spend a couple of hours celebrating the rails! It hosts tons of events throughout the summer, so visit the website for more information.
Special Guidelines: All visitors must wear a mask. As the museum is operating at reduced capacity to ensure proper distancing, it is recommended you reserve an admission time, and train tickets must be purchased ahead of time. Other COVID-19 operating details.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Courtesy of D&SNGRR (Facebook)
The Durango to Silverton train, with a variety of car options to choose from, generally runs this full route from May through the fall, but this year, it (and the other trip options) will hit the tracks on June 22! The route is 3.5 hours one-way (for a seven-hour round trip, if you choose to take the whole ride via train), with a two-hour stop in the charming, mining-era, Old West-esque Silverton for shopping and wonderful food (find the funnel cake place and order anything on the menu, trust me).
If seven hours on a train sounds like a long ride (and it can be, especially with small children), you have options. In most years, you can ride the train one way and take a bus the rest of the trip. You'll need to check in with the station to find out if the bus and shuttle services are available at the current time.
Cascade Canyon Express: A short two-hour excursion starts from the Rockwood Station and travels the high line to Cascade Canyon. Great for those with kids, limited time, etc.
Brew Trains: So far this year, all dates are TBD, but you can sign up for updates. Take a ride from Rockwood to Cascade Canyon with Colorado craft brewers who will introduce you to a light sampling of fine ales and educate you about the brewing process. While at Cascade Canyon, guests will enjoy lunch, live music, and more beer. Dessert and coffee will be served on return trips.
Special Guidelines: The website doesn't specify mask requirements. Please ask when you make your reservation.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
Courtesy of Georgetown Loop Railroad (Facebook)
Just take a quick drive up I-70 to catch a ride on this family-friendly railroad. You can take the traditional, out-and-back train ride from Georgetown to Silverplume in open-air cars for safety and amazing scenery. Keep on eye on updates from the railroad to learn when the ride and mine tours are back on the schedule. Currently, the mine excursions are not available. They are definitely worth it when you are safely able to visit.
Father’s Day Train, June 20-21: Treat dad for a unique trip into the Old West!
Railroad Days, August 22-23 & 29-30: Watch out for the Park County Regulators, as they'll be up to trouble (a good old-fashioned train robbery!), during this fun Railroad Days event. In addition, a few engines will be on display, the Steam Engine Bounce House will be inflated, and barbecue and tasty treats will be available between the two depots.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad
Courtesy of Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad (Facebook)
The summer season opened in late May, offering 2.5-hour, daily trips into Colorado's rich mining country. The ride takes passengers along the old Denver, South Park & Pacific, and Colorado & Southern lines to the Continental Divide with amazing views of the San Isabel National Forest and Arkansas Valley. You can also book train and rafting or zip-lining excursions.
Devils Tail BBQ Special, July 5, August 30, and September 4: Hit the rails for an evening of beauty, food, and relaxation. This 2.5-hour trip combines tasty barbecue with amazing high-country scenery. It is recommended to make reservations, as limited seating is available.
Wildflower Special Train Ride, July 25 & 28, and August 1.
Special Guidelines: There are no listed mask requirements on the website. Please ask when you call for tickets.
Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Canon City
Courtesy of Royal Gorge Route Railroad (Facebook)
Ride the rails along the Arkansas River and through the world-famous Royal Gorge on this unique train. There's is truly a train for every interest, as this railroad offers world-class dining, amazing cars, and more. Try the Vista Dome Car Class rides for spectacular views, the Club Class for table-style seating, tasty meals, and a full bar, or Coach Class with large windows and access to the wonderful menu. The railroad also offers First Class Lunch and First Class Dinner Trains for good food and great scenery.
Murder Mystery Dinner Trains: It's the classic who-dunnit train-style! Enjoy an amazing meal, and try to solve the mystery of the night.
Special Guidelines: Guests are encouraged to use a facial covering, practice physical distancing, frequently wash hands, and please stay home if you are feeling ill.
What do you think? Any other Colorado train experiences we missed on our list? Sound off in the comments.