8 Best Train Rides in Colorado for 2023 (By a Local)
The Rocky Mountains are known for their picturesque beauty, and the best train rides in Colorado provide unique ways to take in the sights. Many of these tracks travel through remote wilderness and lead to interesting attractions and some of the best places in Colorado. These include mine tunnels, mountain summits, and even a ski resort!
I’m a Colorado local who loves scenic train rides and has attended several of these tours. Regardless of available time and location, this guide is sure to help you discover the most ideal Colorado train rides for you.
Let’s dive in!
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8 Best Train Rides in Colorado
Royal Gorge Route Railroad
Enjoy fine dining as you travel past the Arkansas River and an architectural wonder
🚂 Starts in Canon City, Ends in Parkdale | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 24 miles, 2 hours driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: Florence Rose Guesthouse (Canon City)
Hop aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, one of the best train rides in Colorado. Beginning in Cañon City, the Royal Gorge railroad travels past 1,000-foot canyon walls carved by the mighty Arkansas River. Look up and be amazed by the Royal Gorge Bridge, one of the world’s tallest suspension bridges.
The scenic train ride lasts two hours and allows for customized experiences. Choose from open-air cars, coach, and club classes. For the most luxurious ride, admire breathtaking views from the glass-encased Vista Dome. On the lunch train, enjoy wine and delicious food featuring locally-sourced ingredients.
Also, be sure to check out the Royal Gorge Route Railroad’s special event rides. The Santa Express, Oktoberfest, and murder mystery dinners are all fun experiences!
📚 Related Reading: The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is conveniently located just 2 hours away from the Mile High City. Read our free guide to learn about other great day trips from Denver!
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
A well-preserved historic train that transports riders back to the gold mining days
🚂 Starts in Durango, Ends in Silverton | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 90 miles, 7 hours driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: The Strater Hotel (Durango), Teller House (Silverton)
Of all the train rides in Colorado, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is likely the most famous. A winner of several travel awards and designated National Historic Landmark, it’s a southern Colorado experience you won’t want to miss.
This steam-powered locomotive train starts in Durango and travels to the historic mining town of Silverton. Round-trip tickets allow for a 2-hour layover, but with so many cool things to do in Silverton, we suggest staying overnight at one of Silverton’s hotels.
On the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge tracks, enjoy views of the San Juan National Forest and the Rocky Mountains’ majestic peaks. Travel into remote canyons in the Animas Gorge and marvel at the beautiful scenery along the Animas River.
👉 Love hiking? Look into the Silverton Diesel Train. Mid-route, it drops backpackers into the Weminuche Wilderness, an area that provides access to some of the best hiking trails in Colorado.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
Experience seasonal attractions and mining history on one of Colorado’s most popular train rides
👇 Swipe to change photo
🚂 Starts in Georgetown, Ends in Silver Plume | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 6 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: Clear Creek Inn (Georgetown)
About an hour west of Denver lies the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Its accessible location makes it one of the most popular train rides in Colorado. City locals and tourists alike enjoy this charming train ride through Clear Creek Valley. The rail lines cross over four bridges and connect two mining towns, Georgetown and Silver Plume.
Along the way, you have the option to stop and tour the historic Everett Mine and Lebanon Tunnel. Special trains include the Haunted Mine Adventure, Pumpkin Fest, and Santa’s Lighted Forest. Be sure to pick up a souvenir at the Georgetown Loop gift shop and during the holiday season, roasted chestnuts and hot cocoa!
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Criss-cross the Colorado-New Mexico border on this scenic southern railroad
🚂 Starts in Antonito, Ends in Chama | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 64 miles, 6 hours 30 minutes driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: Indiana Jones Bed & Breakfast (Antonito), Chama Trails Inn (Chama)
Though ranked as one of the best train rides in Colorado, the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railroad is technically shared with New Mexico. The train travels across the border 11 times on its route, rising up Cumbres Pass and into Toltec Gorge. Other scenic highlights include aspen forests along Wolf Creek, tight rock tunnels in the gorge, and the town of Osier where you’ll stop for lunch.
The entire trip takes around 6 hours 30 minutes one-way. To get back to Antonito on the same day, you’ll have to return via bus. Rather, we suggest spending the night at one of the hotels in Chama, New Mexico.
👉 Love film history? Interestingly, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad was featured in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Other small towns in Colorado like Creede and Breckenridge have also served as scenic movie backdrops.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Ride the world’s highest cog railway to the summit of one of Colorado’s tallest peaks
🚂 Starts in Manitou Springs, Ends at Pikes Peak | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 9 miles, 3.5 hours driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: Cliff House at Pikes Peak (Manitou Springs)
One of the best day trips from Colorado Springs, The Pikes Peak Cog Railway takes riders up “America’s Mountain.” The railway itself is situated higher than any other in the world. As you ride towards the summit, enjoy panoramic views of Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountains’ Continental Divide.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway takes roughly 3 hours 30-minutes roundtrip. Traveling by train, you can experience Pikes Peak, one of the best 14ers in Colorado, without even breaking a sweat. But if you do want a little exercise and a closer look at wildlife, book a one-way train ride. Then, hike 13 miles of the famed Barr Trail back to the station. Just make sure you’re prepared with all your hiking gear essentials!
Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
Celebrate the Rocky Mountains’ mining history on this short, scenic ride
🚂 Starts in Cripple Creek, Ends in Anaconda | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 4 miles, 45 minutes driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: Cripple Creek Hospitality House (Cripple Creek)
Though the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the shorter train rides on this list, it offers gorgeous views and family fun. With several stops between Cripple Creek and Anaconda, be sure to pack a camera and take advantage of photo ops.
The conductor narrates the ride, sharing stories of Cripple Creek’s past and pointing out retired mines along the way. Their open-air cars make this ride especially enjoyable on a warm, sunny afternoon.
📚 Related Reading: A camera isn’t the only thing you’ll want to remember to bring on your next trip to Colorado! Come prepared by referring to our Colorado Packing List guide.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad
Admire views of the San Isabel National Forest, famous for its fall foliage
🚂 Starts in Leadville, Ends in Climax | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 21 miles, 2.5 hours driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: The Abbey (Leadville)
Taking a ride on the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad is hands-down one of the best things to do in Leadville. The tracks take riders through the beautiful Arkansas River Valley within the San Isabel National Forest. Sights include Mount Massive and Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado.
While train tickets are available from May to October, many prefer to visit during the fall season. It’s one of the premier train rides in Colorado for leaf-peeping forests of yellow aspens.
🛎️ Need a hotel? Check out Laura’s guide on Where To Stay in Leadville!
Winter Park Express Ski Train
Board at Denver’s Union Station to access one of the best ski resorts in Colorado
🚂 Starts in Denver, Ends in Winter Park | 🎟️ Website | ⏱️Length: 56 miles, 2 hours driving | 🛏️ Where to Stay: The Maven (Denver), Zephyr Mountain Lodge (Winter Park)
The Winter Park Express Ski Train is famed as being the United States’ only train connecting a metropolitan area to a ski destination. Convenient access is just one of the things that makes Winter Park one of the best ski resorts in Colorado.
On this train, you’ll travel past the Boulder Flatirons, through remote wilderness, and into 28 tunnels high in the Rockies. It’s a breathtaking journey and the fun only gets better once you reach the slopes! Choose from roundtrip and one-way tickets as Denver hotels and Winter Park lodging are available for every type of traveler.
👉 Love skiing? Read our guide on the 12 Best Ski Resorts Near Denver and get your snowsports gear from REI, our preferred partner!
Thanks for reading our guide to the best train rides in Colorado! From 45-minute tours to multi-day excursions, we hope you enjoy your scenic journey. For more must-see Colorado attractions and can’t-miss adventures, read our free local Colorado guides:
Safe travels and enjoy the ride!
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We are coming to a wedding in Silverthorne the week of June 8th. Any one day train rides that you know of in that area? I’d appreciate your information. Thanks, Patty DeHeck
Patty, if you’re flying into Denver International Airport, I would recommend adding the Georgetown Loop Railroad to your itinerary. From Silverthorne, it’s conveniently located on your way back to Denver.
Alternatively, you could look into the Leadville Railroad which is found about 40 minutes southwest. Have a great trip!
You could even take the “Train to the Plane” (or in this case…”from the plane”) RTD Train from DIA to Downtown’s Union Station for a little “warm-up” ride! 😉
We are visiting Aspen in October. Any day train suggestions ?
is there a train trip close to Walden?
I want to do the polar express in Durango I’m taking my 4 toddlers, is the 7 hours round trip? Is food permitted on the train and how does seating look I’m trying to get all the info before I decide to make it a sure thing