Step back in time to when passenger trains, powered by steam was the best mode of transportation!
The Denver & Rio Grande Railway arrived in Durango on August 5th 1881, by July of 1882 the tracks to Silverton were completed. The line was constructed to haul silver and gold out of the San Juan mountains, but passengers began to realize that it was actually the view that was priceless. This historic railroad has been in continuous operation for 126 years carrying passengers in vintage passenger cars behind vintage steam locomotives.
This train runs year around between Durango and Silverton, you have a choice of riding in a vintage passenger car or an open are gondola car. It takes you through the backcountry wilderness of the San Juan mountains, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth!
Consessions, snacks and beverages are offered on every train. No matter what time of year you go, you want to dress in layers, especially if you decide to take the open air car. You will be climbing over 3000 feet on the way to Silverton. You also have the choice of going to Silverton on one day and returning to Durango on another day, so you can spend time exploring Silverton.
They also have a train that takes you to the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings. They have special events year around. Like the one being held on June 8th-10th, 2007, it's the "Step Back In Time Festival" A celebration of Silverton's boom days.
For those with young children, take an excursion on "Thomas the Tank Engine" that lovable little cartoon train. It's only $16.00 per person.
How about a trip on the "Polar Express" from Durango to the North Pole? Santa will be onboard! Or how about joining Charlie Brown and the gang for a trip to the Great Pumpkin patch? The train also takes hikers to a drop off point for the San Juan Nat'l Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness area. You will be dropped off at the Needleton flag stop which is the entrance to the Chicago Basin and Elk Park and Colorado Trail. When you have finished your hike or exploring, no matter how many days have passed, return to the drop off point and since this is a flag stop you will need to flag the train down by waving your hands horizontally across you knees and be on the east side of the tracks. You are allowed to carry your backpack and bedding onboard. Of course, if it's been a few days since you've had a chance to bathe, no one will probably want to sit by you, but that's okay.
Whichever route you decide to take, make sure you grab your camera and an extra memory card or two, or extra film. You may run into herds of Elk, Antelope, Big Horn Sheep and the occasional Bear or two. I plan on taking this train this summer, there's just something about an old steam engine that's somehow...romantic?
Visit there website and you'll see what I'm talking about! http://www.durangotrain.com/ Round trip tickets start at $65.00 per person. It's worth every penny!
(Photos courtesy of Durango to Silveron Railway Museum-Used with permission- Bob Morris)