4 Reasons the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a Must-Visit

At 64 miles, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the longest, the highest and most authentic steam railroad in North America, traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountain West. 

Ride the Historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in the Fall
Ride the historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in the fall
A locomotive rolls through a scenic mountain landscape.
Enjoy one of the most unforgettable train rides in North America.
Chug Along the Highest Railroad in North America
Chug along the highest steam railroad in North America
Train passengers viewing the surrounding landscape.
Let the wind blow through your hair on the C&T Scenic Railroad.
Full Steam Ahead!
Full steam ahead!
Ride Along Tight Mountain Turns
Ride along tight mountain turns
Red train passes through a lush mountain scene.
Enjoy scenic views along North America's highest and longest steam railroad.
Railroad surrounded by a lush, green landscape.
Fall in love with the striking landscapes of Colorado and New Mexico.
Train Across the Cascade Trestle
Train across the Cascade Trestle
A mountain pasture with a pond and train the background.
Zigzag across state lines on an indelible journey.
Black train with yellow mountain flowers in the foreground.
Steam through 64 miles of the most gorgeous Rocky Mountain views.

Owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico, the train crosses state borders 11 times, zigzagging along canyon walls, burrowing through two tunnels and steaming over Cascade Trestle, 137-feet above a roaring river, all at a stately speed of 12 mph.

Yes, you read that right. At the tranquil speed of just 12 mph, you’ll be steaming through wilderness where no roads go so you can soak in all of the majestic Rocky Mountain beauty surrounding you. There are daily departures running late May through mid-October. Whether you choose to depart from Antonito, Colorado, or Chama, New Mexico, you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping mountain views and a whole lot of family fun.  

1. The train is a National Historic Landmark.

When you climb aboard the Cumbres & Toltec, you’re taking a step back in time. This is an authentic experience of turn-of-the-century steam railroading on tracks laid down in 1880. As a National Historic Landmark, you’ll travel 64 miles in a museum on wheels. Your conductors will re-create the thrill of traveling by steam railroad, and you might even feel like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday or other outlaws and lawmen of the Old West who rode this very train

The journey will give you a chance to relive some of your favorite movie scenes along the route. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad has been in more than two dozen films, including “Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade,” “Wyatt Earp,” “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and “Hostiles.”

2. The scenery is breathtaking.

As the train burrows through two tunnels and steams over the Cascade Trestle, you might forget to take your camera out because it’s easy to get lost in the stunning natural landscape. Gather your wits and snap a photo as you climb to the top of the 10,015-foot Cumbres Pass, the highest point reached by any steam railroad in North America. Be sure to bring a light jacket. Even in summer, it can be cool up here almost 2 miles above sea level.

Make your way to the open-air gondola car, free with every ticket, where a docent offers commentary on historic, cultural and geological focal points along the route. From anywhere on the train, you can view forests of aspens, open alpine meadows and fields of bright wildflowers. Watch for deer, antelope, elk, foxes and eagles as they share this pristine landscape with you. Keep your head, hands and feet inside the train as you tunnel your way through mountainsides and teeter on narrow ledges along a rocky gorge of unusual geologic formations.

3. You’ll enjoy the luxury of train travel.

With different ticket options, you can leave from either station and return to your car by luxury motorcoach. Classes range from Coach, which is perfect for budget-conscious travelers, to Parlor cars, where you ride just like the railroad presidents of yore. Learn more about each class of service >>

All full-day trips include a hot lunch at the scenic Osier Station, about halfway through your journey. The new menu includes local Colorado and New Mexico specialties like BBQ pork, grilled chicken and enchiladas — and don’t forget about the pinto beans, fingerling potatoes, cornbread, assorted cobblers and cinnamon peaches. 

4. You can travel off-the-grid for family fun.

Since much of the train route goes through wilderness where no roads go, it is off-the-beaten-path entertainment, where kids put down their phones (they won’t work out here anyway) and enjoy nature as it should be. All passengers are free to move about the train or ride between cars, and there are bathrooms and a bar car on all trains.

Arrive early and you can watch while crews move the locomotives to take on coal and water. It was steam railroads like this that “won the West,” and the Cumbres & Toltec has been judged three times by the readers of USA Today 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards to be the No. 1 train ride in the nation. 

Learn more about the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad >> 

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