Discover History and Adventure on Colorado’s Historic Trains

Discover History and Adventure on Colorado’s Historic Trains

by | Dec 28, 2012 | Uncategorized

The whistle blows, the steam begins to chug, side rods groan into action making the wheels start to turn, and that unmistakable squeal of steel-on-steel announces that a steam-engine-led train is on the move. Fantastic scenery, arriving at destinations and vistas unattainable by automobile, and historic lessons await all who have boarded.

Do the above words make your heart begin to beat a little faster and send shivers up your spine? We can totally understand. Not only do trains bring back the feel and romance of the past, they can also be a very luxurious way to travel. If all this sounds like a great way to spend part of your Rocky Mountain vacation, it is time to plan your Colorado bed and breakfast getaway, and enjoy a riding-the-rails adventure!

Chances are, if you like the history and romance of the railroad, you will love staying at a Colorado bed and breakfast. Most of our BBIC member inns are historic homes and buildings found all around the state. Inside you’ll find homespun comfort in the form of unbeatable hospitality, use of the inn’s common areas, great breakfasts each morning, and a wide array of extras that rival any chain hotel.

When you arrive at your favorite Centennial State inn, you will be welcomed like a part of the family. After all, our inns are also our homes! Your innkeeper can also answer any questions you might have about your stay and the area. In fact, your CO innkeeper is the best place to begin looking for a day-adventure on the rails, as they can tell you what is close-by, if there are any details that you may want to consider, and can even point you to the antique and hobby stores with the best rail-related items, and to the best restaurants to keep your train-themed adventure alive.

Enjoy a great breakfast on the morning of your Colorado rail trip. If you need to schedule an early dining time in order to make your train, most innkeepers are happy to accommodate you. After your train adventure, spend some time shopping and exploring the area, and know that your welcoming B and B room and comfortable bed is waiting for your return!

To help you pick your favorite rail adventure (and coordinate your bed and breakfast stay), we offer the following brief descriptions of some of the state’s most popular train excursions that are ideal outings during your Colorado vacation and invite you to visit our Locate an Inn by City or Region page of our website to choose the inn destination closest to your interests.

Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
A 45-minute run offered between late May and early October, this excursion takes you through Cripple Creek’s mining areas on a coal-fired steam train.  The station itself is located in Cripple Creek.

Before or after your train excursion, stop into the Midland Depot for lunch or dinner. Owned by one of our member innkeepers, the eatery features vintage train decorations and antiques.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Offering full-day trips between late May and mid-October, this narrow-gauge coal-fueled train travels through two beautiful mountain ranges. Much like a “regular” railroad taken for travel, the train features an observation car and parlor car for use during the trip. Because the train travels through a variety of altitudes, it is recommended that you dress in layers for optimal comfort. The station is located in Antonito.

Georgetown Loop Railroad
This 1 hour, 15 minute loop runs from Georgetown to Silver Plume and back again. You will also enjoy a tour of the Lebanon Silver mine during the trip. The train travels more than 600 feet through wooded and mountain scenery – be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife!

Please note that the railroad cars are open to the elements, meaning that you’ll be riding whether it be raining or sunny… even snowing!  Please dress accordingly.

Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad Company
Operating from late May through early October, this 2.5 hour journey takes you through mining lands between Leadville and Climax. Native flora and fauna can be seen along the way.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway
A round-trip to the Pike’s Peak summit and back, this trip is offered year-round, leaving from the base of the mountain in Manitou Springs. This trip ascends over 14,000 feet through Aspen and Pine forests and past streams and wildlife (you are almost guaranteed to see deer and bighorn sheep). Total trip time is a little over 3 hours, with a 30-40 minute visit to the summit. On clear days you will enjoy majestic views at the summit, spanning as far as Denver to the north, to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the south.

This train varies from all others because of its rack-and-pinion rail-to-wheel system. Basically, both the tracks and the train’s wheels are notched like gears, helping them to make the steep ascents and descents needed on this steep track.

Please note that temperatures are about 30-degrees cooler on the summit than at the base. Those who have sensitivity to altitude may experience discomfort at the summit, as well as those with heart problems and asthma. The trip is not recommended for infants under 3 months of age.

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
Between late May and mid October, you can enjoy a day-long excursion which may include shopping, a stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and lots of gorgeous scenery.

This steam engine departs daily and features enclosed cars to protect you from the elements. If you chose the Toltec Gorge Limited trip, you will also enjoy a ride on the scenic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad through beautiful landscape and to the Toltec Gorge where lunch is provided.

The Monte Vista Mixed trip actually carries freight along with its passengers through gorgeous landscape to Monte Vista and back.

Historic Royal Gorge Route Railroad

Running from the start of February through mid-October for its regular season, this railroad offers scenic day trips with lunch, and romantic dinner rides. Specialty and off-season trips including murder-mystery, wine-tasting, New Year’s, and Meet Santa excursions are also offered.

Departing from Canon City, the train follows the Arkansas River and through the gorgeous Royal Gorge. Thrill at the hanging bridge in a 30-foot-wide canyon! Both open-air and enclosed cars are offered, and you may move about the train at will.

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