Yes, you read that right. At the breakneck speed of 12 mph, you’ll soak in all of the majestic Rocky Mountain beauty surrounding you on one of the daily departures running late-May through mid-October. Plus, this train has been judged twice by the readers of USA Today 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards to be the No. 1 train ride in the nation. 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 railroading on tracks laid down in 1880. As a National Historic Landmark, you’ll travel 64 miles in a moving museum. Your conductors will re-create the thrill of traveling by steam railroad, and you might even feel like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday or another outlaw of the Old West who rode this very train.
This 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. It seems like you should be in the Guinness Book of World Records just for being on board, right?
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 there, 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 Parlor, with all the perks, to Coach, which is perfect for budget-conscious travelers. Plus, there’s the Deluxe class in between. Learn more about each class of service >>
All full-day trips include a hot lunch of roast turkey or meatloaf at the scenic Osier Station, about halfway through your journey. Don’t forget about the homemade bread, salad bar, pies, cobblers and the famous triple-chocolate cake.
4. Special excursions offer a twist on the classic.
If you’re looking for something a little different, the garnet-colored train offers plenty of specials throughout the season.
Feeling romantic? The summer Scenic Dinner Trains, with music tributes and a delicious prime rib supper, take place as the sun sets behind the mountains, casting the forests around you in a golden-hour glow.
Light up your Independence Day adventures, with the Fourth of July Dinner Train. There will be a DJ and patriotic-attire contest, as well as a fireworks display to rival any you’ve seen back home.
Get dressed up in your finest frocks and take yourself to the roaring ‘20s for the Speakeasy Sunset Dinner Train in September. The jazz tunes will be flowing, your flapper dress will be swishing, and a fresh fish dinner will delight your taste buds.
The holiday season is magical when you include the Cumbres & Toltec. Donate food and toys for families in need, and ride the historic train with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoying hot cocoa and candy canes and a pristine winter wonderland.