Royal Gorge Route
Rail travel and one of Colorado’s most popular destinations combine for an outstanding adventure. The Royal Gorge Route threads through the famous canyon 1,000 feet below the world’s highest suspension bridge. Twisting along the banks of the Arkansas River, trips aboard this train promise close-up views of the Arkansas River, wildlife and sheer granite walls. Two-hour trips depart from the historic Santa Fe Depot in Cañon City; traveling 12 miles to Parkdale before reversing direction.
A stop on Hanging Bridge highlights each trip; the canyon narrows at this point so much that the rails are suspended over the river. During the season, passengers watch rafters tackle the surging waters of Class V rapids. Views upward include a swath of Colorado sky and the thin ribbon of the Royal Gorge Bridge linking perpendicular canyon walls.
The streamline train consists of restored climate controlled coaches and roofless observation cars. The Sunshine Falls café and bar car satisfies hunger pangs. The Theodore Roosevelt dining car debuted on the route this summer, adding an upgrade option.
During day trips First Class seating at comfortable tables includes a class of complimentary champagne or sparkling cider, chef’s choice of hor’s dourves and a cash bar. A local Cañon City company re-outfitted the Via Rail car in rich wood paneling, sparkling light fixtures and burgundy upholstery.
For Colorado’s classiest rail trip make reservations on the Saturday night Twilight Dinner Train, offered through Oct.25th. Upon boarding, guests find an appetizer plate and champagne at their table. A chilled salad topped with homemade Bleu cheese dressing and crisp croutons is served soon after departure. Between courses diners step out to an observation car for sunset photos or stars sprinkled across the night sky canvas.
Entrée choices are salmon with herbed wild rice and fresh vegetable or a generous roast prime rib served with baked potato and vegetables. Chocolate cake or cheesecake desserts and coffee conclude the four-course meal from chef Donovan McDonald and cheerful staff.
The Royal Gorge Route continues operations on weekends during the winter and spring months, a boost to off-season tourists and residents.