Colorado by Train
September 24–October 4, 2019 • 11 Days • $3850
Four heritage train journeys are the centerpiece of this Adventure, the most impressive starting across the New Mexico border and topping out at over 10,000 feet above sea level.
Reserve your spot with a $500 registration!
**Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $200 discount on the Colorado by Train tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.
Pricing is based on double occupancy. Single accommodations available for a supplement.
Click on each day to reveal more details.
BLD refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.
Day 1 - Sep 24: Arrive Denver, Colorado
Our vintage train Adventure through the celebrated Rocky Mountain vistas of Colorado begins today in Denver. Travelers arrive throughout the day. Our first official activity is the Welcome Orientation & Reception this evening at 7:30 pm at our hotel. Please plan to arrive in time to attend this important Adventure kick-off!
Optional Downtown Denver Excursion For those who arrive into Denver a day early (September 23), an optional Downtown Denver Highlights Excursion & Walk is available. This delightful all-day exploration of the Mile High City includes round-trip transport to downtown Denver, walk credit, and guide services. Estimated price: $40
Day 2 - Sep 25: Denver – Carbondale (B)
TRAIN #1: Georgetown Loop Railroad
We head west into the Rockies today on scenic Interstate 70, bound for the tiny town of Silver Plume and our first vintage train experience. The Georgetown Loop Railroad was built in the 1880s to connect the gold and silver boom towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume. The “loop” covers 3 miles of narrow-gauge track with an elevation gain of 640 feet, requiring a series of trestles, cuts, and loops. We disembark for a walking tour of the historic Lebanon Silver Mine at the halfway point. After lunch on our own in Victorian-styled Georgetown (8,512 fasl – feet above sea level), we soak up the wild west ambiance of Hotel de Paris, then continue over the continental divide through dramatic mountain scenery to the quiet little town of Carbondale.
Day 3 - Sep 26: Carbondale – Ouray (BD)
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Walk – 8 km, rated 2D
The travel proverb claiming “the journey is the destination” certainly applies to this Adventure, and today’s journey takes us south along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway. The afternoon is devoted to exploring Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with a scenic drive and walk. Unmatched for its combination of narrowness and depth – as deep as 2,700 feet and as narrow at the top as 1,200 feet – Black Canyon of the Gunnison trails include Warner Point Nature Trail and the Rim Rock Trail (8,300 fasl), offering spectacular views from Painted Wall and Chasm Wall. We conclude our day with a historic saloon dinner on the first of two nights in the delightful mountain community of Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America!”
Day 4 - Sep 27: Activities from Ouray (B)
Rocky Mountain Mining Towns Walk – 8.5 km, rated 2B
Nestled in the eye-popping San Juan Mountains, Ouray (7,811 fasl) warrants a full day to explore its lovely alpine surroundings. A morning walk around this charming, 19th century mining town blends Victorian-era homes, rushing waterfalls, and endless mountain panoramas, plus a likely bonus of colorful fall foliage.
Rocky Mountains Jeep Tour After lunch on our own, consider an optional (and thrilling!) 4×4 jeep ride into the high alpine autumn wonderland above town (Estimated price: $75).
Or soak in the famous Ouray Hot Springs near our hotel before enjoying dinner on your own in this delightful destination.
Day 5 - Sep 28: Ouray – Durango (B)
TRAIN #2: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
After a nostalgic morning visit to the well-appointed Ouray County Museum, we ascend the Million Dollar Highway, touted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) as “among the nation’s most spectacular automobile routes.” This jaw-dropping road leads to another mining Mecca – the aptly-named town of Silverton (9,305 fasl). Here, we board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, built to transport gold and silver ore in the early 1880s. Mining gave way to tourism, however, and the magnificent vistas through which it is routed resulted in a steady stream of visitors through 128 years of continuous operation. We arrive in Durango (6,502 fasl) this evening for a two-night stay.
Day 6 - Sep 29: Activities from Durango (B)
Mesa Verde National Park Walk – 10 km, rated 2D
Mesa Verde National Park is the only American national park dedicated specifically to human endeavors. Our multi-part walk in the park introduces us to the Pueblo Indians who first arrived in this area more than 1,000 years ago. The route also highlights the natural beauty of the park, exploring several of the impressive Pueblo cliff dwellings the park was established to protect.
Day 7 - Sep 30: Durango – Alamosa (BL)
TRAIN #3: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Following a recurring theme, the transport of silver ore from southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains was the objective for building the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad during the 1880s. Our third train journey follows a 64-mile narrow gauge line through the spectacular mountains and valleys of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. We board in Chama, New Mexico, travel as high as 10,015 feet above sea level, and ride, at one point, on rails fastened to a rock shelf carved from the face of a cliff. The train stops midway for a hot lunch before continuing to Antonito, our destination back on the Colorado side of the border. We spend the night in the small community of Alamosa (7,543 fasl), enjoying dinner on our own in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains!
Day 8 - Oct 1: Alamosa – Cañon City (B)
Great Sand Dunes National Park Walk –5 km, rated 2B (unsanctioned)
Great Sand Dunes National Park takes us into another world – 30 square miles of sand dunes rising to heights of nearly 700 feet! A short nature trail takes us up close to this phenomenal sea of sand surrounded by the Rockies, with an option to climb to the breathtaking summit of these surreal dunes. Following a picnic lunch on our own at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, we journey to Cañon City (5,332 fasl), the gateway to the Royal Gorge, and our home base for the evening.
Day 9 - October 2: Cañon City – Manitou Springs (B)
Manitou Springs Walk – 10 km, rated 2A
TRAIN #4: Royal Gorge Route Railroad
Mining in the 1880s was again the motive for what became a railroad war between the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and the Santa Fe Railroad. The two companies waged an ongoing struggle of litigation and armed confrontation for the right to build and operate a railroad through this deep river gorge. Sheer gorge walls over one thousand feet tall, in places, required that rails be suspended over the river for several hundred feet. Our seats are in the 1950s Vista Dome, the best way to take in the breathtaking views of the Royal Gorge. We arrive early afternoon into Manitou Springs (6,320 fasl). Faster walkers may have time to walk the local volkswalk; others may wish to just stroll amongst the artsy charm of historic Manitou Springs.
Day 10 - October 3: Activities from Manitou Springs (BD)
Garden of the Gods Walk – 8.5 km, rated 2C
Our final walk regularly ranks high in the Top 10 voting for best Volkswalks in the country. At the base of Pikes Peak, this trail winds through the towering red sandstone monoliths of the Garden of the Gods. Following lunch on our own at the park’s Trading Post, enjoy free time during the afternoon in Manitou Springs. We rendezvous this evening to reminisce about our journey at a Farewell Dinner.
Day 11 - October 4: Depart from Colorado (B)
Our Colorado by Train Adventure draws to a close with an early-morning group transfer to the airport in Denver. Exploring the beauty of the Rockies is a delight. Combining the Rockies with travel on these wonderfully restored and maintained historic trains makes this experience unforgettable. Thanks for sharing this nostalgic connection with America’s past!
Following the rousing success of our past Colorado by Train Adventures, we have been anxious to get back to the radiant Rockies. We are now pleased to offer a fourth rendition of this outstanding itinerary, which includes a high-quality combination of great walks, vintage train rides, and spectacular scenic driving through the awesome alpine panoramas of Colorado! Starting and finishing in Denver, this 11-day program uses a combination of a motorcoach and four vintage trains to work our way through the “Centennial State” amongst a smorgasbord of some of the country’s most scenic settings!
You can look forward to:
- Savoring the spectacular sites of Ouray (the “Switzerland of America”), with its inviting hot springs, cascading waterfalls, Victorian homes, and thrilling mountain jeep rides;
- Appreciating the dramatic role mining and the “boom or bust” cycle played in 19th century towns like Silverton and Georgetown;
- Enjoying the flavor of the Old West with stops and overnights in a variety of small, nostalgic Colorado towns;
- Pondering the way of life of indigenous peoples as we wonder at the pueblos built into the cliffs at Mesa Verde National Park, and;
- Immersing ourselves in almost non-stop Rocky Mountain panoramas, from the splendor of the 14ers (peaks higher than 14,000 feet), to the depths of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, to the towering waves of sand at Great Sand Dunes National Park.
- Georgetown Loop Railroad
- Lebanon Silver Mine Tour
- Hotel de Paris visit in Georgetown
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Ouray Museum
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Royal Gorge Route Railroad
- More fun stops than we can list!
- Group Size: 15-20 travelers
- A 1:10 guide to traveler ratio
- 4 Heritage Train Journeys
- Georgetown Loop
- Durango & Silverton
- Cumbres & Toltec
- Royal Gorge Route
- 3 National Parks
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Mesa Verde
- Great Sand Dunes
- 6 Walks
- 13 meals: all breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners
- Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
- 2 Walking Adventures Guides and Local Guides at various stops
- Transportation in 40 pax motorcoaches
“I loved that some more challenging walks were included, e.g. Petroglyph Trail. It seemed to me that there was an activity for every level of walker so that all were able to comfortably enjoy each day.”
“Scott and Pat gave us lots of good information. Both were exceptional—friendly, and you felt relaxed with their guiding…All railroads were good but Cumbres & Toltec and Royal Gorge were splendid.”
“This trip exceeded my expectations. It was planned well. Scott did a great job of keeping us informed every step of the way of what is on the schedule. Pat’s geo lessons were fun and informative. Both of them made my first experience w/WAI the best trip I have ever had.”