Total Number of Days/Nights: Seven

Itinerary Summary: There was a time not too long ago when one either traveled by horseback or by train. If you needed to transport supplies or cover long distances fast, particularly through the mountains, there was no better way to go than by steam locomotive.

We grew up watching Westerns, where bandits chased the steaming iron horse — and the white-Stetsoned hero saved the day. We've read history books that depict the hardships endured as tracks were laid from coast to coast, and the victories enjoyed as this new invention changed the course of history. Now, travelers are rediscovering train travel with local restored lines, once the lifeline for settlers, miners and travelers. Colorado offers several scenic routes to take you back in time while exploring the beauty of our awesome state.

Destinations Include:
  • Royal Gorge Route Railroad
  • Georgetown Loop Railroad
  • Pikes Peak Cog Railway
  • Leadville & Southern Railroad Company
  • Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
  • Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
  • Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad

Day One: Golden/Georgetown

Travel just a short distance west of Denver to visit the Colorado Railroad Museum. Established in 1959, the Colorado Railroad Museum is recognized as one of the best privately supported rail museums in the United States. View more than 70 historic narrow and standard gauge locomotives and cars exhibited on 15 acres near Golden.

Next, explore the historic mining town of Georgetown. Take the 1920s steam-powered train on the Historic Georgetown Loop Railroad. Leaving from either Georgetown's Devil's Gate or the Silver Plume Depot, this six-mile trip takes slightly more than an hour. You can take in the area's beauty while seated in open-air cars, or enjoy the scenery through the windows of covered cars. A highlight of the scenic journey is the train's crossing of Devil's Gate Bridge, a trestle spanning the deep drop of a river-carved canyon.

Day Two: Leadville

The historic mining town of Leadville is tucked away in a magnificent alpine valley at the base of the state's highest peak. Here, you will find spectacular views, volumes of living history and a population proud of its working-class heritage. Winding through this colorful land is the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad. This journey is full of breath-taking panoramas across the Arkansas River Valley and humorous narratives about Leadville's colorful past. A brick-red locomotive, powered as much by history as fuel, will take you over the Continental Divide and around the boomtown of Leadville — the highest incorporated city in the United States.

Day Three: Cripple Creek/Victor

Start your day with a beautiful drive to the historic gold mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor. Once there, take the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad for a four-mile scenic tour. Travel underground on a mine tour at the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine. Stroll the historic streets of the communities that once housed "the Greatest Gold Mines" in the West, or take in some limited-stakes gambling at the casinos.

Day Four: Colorado Springs

Take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway 14,110 feet to the top of Pikes Peak. Then explore the magnificent sandstone rock formations of Garden of the Gods. In the evening, enjoy a night of Western hospitality and entertainment at Flying W Ranch.

Day Five: Canon City/Royal Gorge

Take off for a full-day trip to Canon City and the Royal Gorge Canyon. Ride the train on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (two hours roundtrip) which offers spectacular views from along the Arkansas River at the bottom of the canyon, where the canyon walls rise 1,000 feet above the train. Choose from classes of service that include climate-controlled coach, glass-topped Vista Domes or gourmet dining including Wine Tastings, Lunch, Dinner, Murder Mystery, and Wine Dinner trains. Watch river-rafters from open cars, then travel to the top of the canyon to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park — home to the world's highest suspension bridge, aerial tram and incline railway.

Day Six: Alamosa/Antonito

The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad offers daily roundtrip and one-way fares by steam engine over the historic La Veta Pass Route between Alamosa and La Veta. Ride in standard coach or newly restored Dome Cars. Also available is a train to Antonito, where visitors can catch a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Its steam locomotives still labor up steep grades carrying visitors over high trestles, through tunnels and along narrow shelves above yawning gorges.

Day Seven: Durango/Silverton

Jump on board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, an authentic turn-of-the-century, coal-fired, steam-powered narrow gauge railroad through the scenic San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. Designated a National Historic Landmark and ranked in the top ten scenic railroads in the world, it's more than a train ride, it's a step back in both time and history.

Updated: January 7, 2022