Colorado train rides offer a uniqueness one just can't find anywhere else in the country. The state has become legendary for its many narrow-gauge tourist lines operating west and south of Denver, all of which use trackage once part of either the Denver & Rio Grande Western's or Colorado & Southern's mining branches (built during the late 19th century to tap the region's silver deposits). The most popular of these excursions certainly has to be the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge (D&SNG) although others like the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic (C&TS) and Royal Gorge Route Railroad offer similarly incredible views and are not too far behind. Colorado is also home to more unique tourist lines like the cog railway, Mamtou & Pike’s Peak, or the Platte Valley Trolley. In any event, the information included here provides a brief overview of each excursion along with their contact and website information.
Historically, Colorado's rail operations have known mostly for three things; flat plains, the Rocky Mountains, and narrow-gauge lines. All three still hold true today although the services you can find amongst the state's excursion trains vary quite a bit. While the D&SNG and C&TS focus on their incredible scenery and historic steam locomotives used to pull their trains other Colorado train rides like the Royal Gorge Route and Rio Grande Scenic offer wonderful views as well as fine accommodations and dining services. So, depending on what you may be interested in and the budget you may have, the state definitely offers a wide array of excursion train options.
Colorado Railroad Museum
The Colorado Railroad Museum, based in Golden, houses a large collection of rolling stock and locomotives. They also host train rides during the weekends and other special events.
Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, based in Cripple Creek, Colorado
is another of the state's many narrow-gauge tourist railroads (it's
gauge is two feet). The little railroad has been in operation since the
summer of 1967 and since that time has become a popular operation,
running trains on four miles of ex-mining trackage. Of course, the
railroad is only one attraction in the town of Cripple Creek, which is
itself a popular tourist attraction.
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is another famous narrow-gauge tourist railroad in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico, like the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (except that it operates entirely in Colorado). The C&T is quite similar to the D&S in many ways, including the use of famous narrow-gauge steam locomotives that are native to the line (which were originally owned by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad). Also like the D&S, the C&T operates through the gorgeous canyons and mountains located in the region. So, if you are ever in southwest Colorado I would strongly consider stopping by to see this historic and super scenic tourist railroad! Even better, if you time, also stop by and see the nearby Durango & Silverton.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
One of the premier tourist trains you will found anywhere in the country, the Durango & Silverton operates on the fabled narrow gauge lines of the former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in the beautiful rugged regions of southern Colorado, still using the same steam locomotives that operated under the D&RGW. The railroad also hosts special events and trains throughout the operating season that include lunches and barbecues.
Fort Collins Municipal Railway
Based in Fort Collins, Colorado this tourist train operates on 1 1/2-mile stretch of former interurban trackage using a restored Birney Safety Car #21. They normally operate on weekends and host special excursions throughout the year.
Galloping Goose #5
This uniquely restored, historic rail car was returned to operating condition in 1998. It now offers rides on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic and Durango & Silverton during different times of the year.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
The narrow-gauge Georgetown Loop Railroad is a short, but very popular and scenic tourist railroad located in Georgetown, Colorado and operated by the Colorado Historical Society as the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park. The scenic line dates as far back as 1881 (as the Georgetown, Breckenridge & Leadville Railroad, originally a Union Pacific subsidiary) when it was chartered to serve thriving silver mines near Georgetown and Silver Plume.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad
The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad is another of
many tourist railroads and just like the others operates through the
spectacular Rocky Mountain Range, departing each trip from the historic
mining town of Leadville at the former Colorado & Southern restored
depot. The railroad's primary power is a GP9 #1714 painted in LC&S
Manitou & Pike’s Peak Railway
This cog railway operates up Colorado's Pike's Peak, along a line
that covers nearly nine miles and lasts over three hours. While this
isn't a traditional tourist train it's tough to find one that affords
such spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and countryside.
Platte Valley Trolley
The Platte Valley Trolley operates from mid-April through the end of October every weekend using trolley cars along a route that allows for about a 25-minute ride.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is a new tourist railroad based in Alamosa, Colorado that has been operating only since 2006. The railroad operates exclusively over ex-Rio Grande trackage (as you may have guessed from the name) and connects with the popular narrow-gauge tourist line, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic at its southern terminus of Chama, New Mexico.
Royal Gorge Route Railroad
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is another tourist railroad that operates part of the Denver & Rio Grande Western’s super-scenic trackage in Colorado. Also close to other very popular lines like the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic, and Durango & Silverton the Royal Gorge Route operates 24 miles of the Rio Grande’s famous line the Royal George Route (as you may have guessed, this is where the railroad derives its name) departing daily from Canyon City, Colorado (it should be noted that the railroad is one of the few tourist lines to operate year-round).
Tiny Town Railroad
The Tiny Town is located in Morrison offering scale-train rides using authentic, miniature steam locomotives. Their excursions are offered daily between June, July, and August and run during the weekends from September through May.