Railroads of the Old West
Colorado has one of the largest collections of historic railroads, including many powered by good ‘ol fashioned steam engines. This tour will take you to four of those railroads, plus more classic Colorado points of interest.
This tour starts and ends in Denver and passes through the iconic Rocky Mountains, including its branch range, the colorful San Juans. It was the extensive mining activity in the late 1800s that created the need to build these classic railroads through very rugged mountain terrain. The engineering required to get those heavy iron horses and their cargo over these mountain grades is unbelievable. Going on this tour, you’ll experience for yourself what it is like to ride the railroads of the Old West. This tour is also a great introduction to seeing the stunning Rocky Mountains.
- Georgetown Loop Railroad
- Jeep tour through the San Juan Mountains
- Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Royal Gorge Route Railroad
- Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
- Services of a Southwest Adventure Tours tour director – a professional tour guide
- Motorcoach transportation
- 5 nights hotel accommodations
- 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
- Entrance fees to attractions and activities listed in the itinerary
- Park entrance fees
- Gratuities for included meals and activities
- Applicable taxes and fees
- Day 1: Arrive in Denver
- Day 2: Georgetown Loop RR to Grand Junction
- Day 3: San Juan Mtns and Durango & Silverton RR
- Day 4: Cumbres & Toltec RR
- Day 5: Great Sand Dunes & Royal Gorge
- Day 6: Departures from Denver
Arrive at the Denver Airport today and transfer on your own by taxi or Uber to your Denver hotel. The evening is free to explore and have dinner on your own.
Radisson Denver, Denver, CO
This morning, meet your local tour director and depart Denver. You’ll climb high into the Rocky Mountains, stopping first at Georgetown (8,500 feet). This town was once known as the “Silver Queen of Colorado”. Our first train ride is on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. We’ll be pulled by an old-time steam locomotive chugging its way up the canyon, hauling us past the remains of several gold and silver mines. This open car train runs between Georgetown and Silver Plume. Its mountainous terrain required trestles, cuts, fills, loops and curves, totaling 3.1 miles of narrow-gauge track. At the end of the line, we tour the Lebanon Silver Mine, taking us 500 feet into a mine tunnel bored in the 1870s. Your guide will point out rich veins of silver and tell you about early-day mining. The temperature inside the mine is a constant 44 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring a jacket. The tour also includes visits to the manager's office, the miners' change room and the tool shed. Late afternoon we cross the Continental Divide and check in to our Grand Junction, CO hotel for the night. Dinner this evening is included at a local restaurant in the heart of downtown Grand Junction.
Hampton Inn Downtown, Grand Junction, CO | Meals: B, D
Today, we take a three-hour Jeep Tour over 12,000-foot Corkscrew Pass into the Red Mountains. You ride beside high mountain cliffs over hanging mining trails where the clear air and the brilliant colors of the red mountains are simply astonishing. A picnic lunch will be included. The jeep tour ends in historic Silverton, CO where you board the Silverton-Durango Railroad. This steam locomotive travels 45 miles along the Animas River winding through spectacular and breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of San Juan National Forest. You may feel as though you are reliving history as you travel on the same tracks that miners, cowboys and settlers of the Old West took over a century ago. This train has been in continuous use since 1882. Dinner is included this evening at a local restaurant in Durango. After dinner, we travel to Pagosa Springs, a town in southwest Colorado, for lodging. Known for its hot springs, Pagosa Springs is surrounded by the rugged San Juan Mountains and vast areas of national forest.
Quality Inn, Pagosa Springs, CO | Meals: B, L, D
An early morning departure takes us to Chama, NM for a ride on The Cumbres & Toltec Railroad. Perhaps the most beautiful train ride in America, it is a rugged, narrow gauge, coal-fired, steam powered mountain railroad traversing 64 miles of unparalleled scenery. You climb through an unspoiled landscape, past historic railroad structures dating back to the turn of the twentieth century. You’ll enjoy the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains as this sure-footed locomotive rolls through tunnels, above deep gorges, and over Cumbres Pass, as we zig-zag between the Colorado and New Mexico border. A stop is made for lunch at the lonely Osier Dining Hall near the halfway point. Your rail journey will end in Antonito, CO, then take a short drive to Alamosa, CO and your hotel for an overnight stay. Dinner is included this evening at an area restaurant.
Hampton Inn, Alamosa, CO | Meals: B, L, D
Depart early today to visit nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park for sightseeing. Nestled in a spot where the Sangre de Cristo Mountains buckle inward, the dunes within the borders of the park have been building and sifting for eons. A sandbox of epic proportions, the entire dune field encompasses 30 square miles and the tallest dune towers 750 feet high. Next, ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a scenic journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. Since 1879, these tracks have followed the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring, 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado’s Royal Gorge. In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt described this ride as “the trip that bankrupts the English language!” This ride also includes a delicious lunch. Next, visit the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, where the world's highest suspension bridge towers 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. Here you will have time to walk out on the bridge and explore other sights in the park. Arrive at your hotel in Colorado Springs where you will say goodbye to your local tour director. Dinner is on your own.
Hotel Elegante, Colorado Springs, CO | Meals: B, L
A transfer to the Denver Airport from Colorado Springs is included and can be scheduled to meet your departure flight home.
Your last day in the Escalante area involves yet another slot canyon called Big Horn Canyon. Unlike the other slot canyons you will have hiked through taking this tour, the sandstone here is very swirly, stripy and colorful. Portions of the slot canyon may be blocked. But that’s not a problem because it’s easy to bypass these areas unlike other slot canyons. We’ll hike up Big Horn about 3 to 4 miles, then return back down the same way. When we’re finished, we’ll head back to St. George in the afternoon, a 3-hour drive.
The colors of Big Horn Canyon:
We will return to St. George by 5:00 PM. Book any flights or transportation after 7:00 PM or consider spending another day or two in beautiful St. George.
Meals: B, L
- Items of a personal nature (alcohol, room service, etc.)
- Meals (other than listed in the itinerary)
- Optional activities
- Arrival airport transfer (departure is included)
- Gratuities for the tour director
Arrival / Departure Info:
- Arrival Location: Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Arrival Time: Any time on Day 1
- Departure Location: Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Departure Time: Any time Day 6
- Guests should be comfortable walking on uneven terrain for about a mile at a time.
- Elevation gain and loss averages between 50 to 100 feet in the areas visited in this tour.
- Touring and overnight locations are above 6,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level.
- Deboard and board van/bus each time at a viewpoint.
- Please let us know if you have any other physical/health limitations or requirements.
Departure Dates 2022
Departure Dates 2023
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