Ride the Rails for Colorado Fall Color

Aspen1 Colorado celebrates autumn with golden hillsides of aspen, scrub oaks in hues from crimson to burnt umber  – and, the occasional dusting of snow on the high peaks. No season is more colorful for a scenic train ride – narrow or standard gauge. Many of the railroads offer special events during the fall. All aboard!

  • Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad – A steam powered narrow gauge train makes a 4-mile, 45-minute trip into the historic mining districts of Cripple Creek and Victor. This is an excellent choice for families with young children or those with limited time. Operates daily until October3, 2010, 10am-5pm, train runs every 40 minutes. Lots of aspens along the route make this a great fall foliage feature. Read more…

  • Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad – This popular excursion weaves along the Colorado/New Mexico border. Special fall events include the Moonlight Dinner Train on September 24 featuring a catered dinner and a classic murder mystery presented by Adams State College. On September 30th the Galloping Goose #5 makes its Fall Colors Classic run. The scenic railroad has scheduled trips through October 17, 2010.

  • DSNGR in Silverton Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – Passengers step back more than a century when they board this historic train that has operated continuously since 1882. The route through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains offers unparalleled scenery. Autumn specials include the 21th Annual Fall Photo Special Sept. 25-26 & Oct. 2-3, Cowboy Poet Train/Durango Cowboy Gathering Oct. 1, Durango Heritage Train Oct. 9, and Peanuts The Great Pumpkin Patch Express Oct. 16 17, 23 & 24. Night Photo Sessions are set for September 24-25, & October 2-3. Check their website for full descriptions of the Fall Photo Specials, the Night Sessions and tips for riding the photographer special trains. Reservations a must! Read more…

  • Train_Locomotive with Light On Georgetown Loop Railroad – Georgetown and Silver Plume are only two miles apart via highway but the elevation gain of 600 feet required amazing railroad engineering. The steep climb includes many twists, turns and trestles. Trains operate daily through Oct. 11, weekends after that date. The last Moonlight in the Mountains Dinner Train of the season runs Saturday, September 18, 2010. September 25th a Wine Tasting and Hors d’Oeurvres evening special will feature wines from Pasa Robles, California. Pumpkin Festival events are planned for the first two weekends of October and Oktoberfest the last three weekends. Read more…

  • Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad – Leadville claims title to the highest incorporated town in North America (10,152’) and thrived on mining and the railroads. Rail buffs relive that golden age along the Leadville, Colorado and Southern tracks. Trains run daily through Oct. 3; weekdays at 1pm, weekends at 10am and 2pm. A Fall Photo Special – at the normal fare price -  on Sept. 18 will include special photo stops. Read more…

  • Manitou Cog Railway Manitou and Pikes Peak RailwayScale Pikes Peak on the world’s highest cog railroad. The three-hour round trip to the 14,110’ summit qualifies as the most relaxed climb up the well-known mountain. Swiss diesel locomotives ratchet bright red cars filled with tourists up slopes with grades as high as 25%. Morning and afternoon trips through Oct. 24, Thereafter check the website for scheduled departures; the cog railway is now open year round but not daily in the off-season.

  • Rio Grande Scenic Railway – Departing from Alamosa and LaVeta the Rio Grande Scenic Railway gives passengers multiple trip options (distance, time and price) including a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The autumn schedule includes Rails and Ales Oktoberfest Oct. 2, 2010 complete with brats, ales and oompa band music and a Pumpkin Patch Ride Oct. 23, 2010. “Golden Ticket” senior discounts during September and October allow passengers 65+ to purchase one senior ticket and get one free. Does not apply to special event trains.

  • Royal Gorge Route – Travel along the banks of the Arkansas River and beneath the worlds highest suspension bridge, more than 1,000-ft. above the gorge. Passengers can select seating in coach or vista dome cars, both with access to an open air car for outstanding views and photos. The Royal Gorge Route offers Colorado’s only regularly scheduled rolling gourmet dinner service. Oktoberfest Lunch special trains run Fridays Saturdays and Sundays from September 17 to October 10, 2010. In addition to their regular menu items the Oktoberfest menu option includes veal brats, mustard spaetzle, braised red cabbage and apples, Black Forest torte; and of course, Oktoberfest beer on tap. Royal Gorge Route trains run daily until October 31 and weekends until December 31, 2010. Read more…

Also consider:

  • Amtrak – Passenger service between Chicago and the West Coast traverses the Colorado Rockies west of Denver. The route through the Moffat Tunnel, Grand County and along the Colorado River offers superb scenery. Trips from Denver to Glenwood Springs  or Grand Junction offer getaways without driving busy I-70. Nancy’s Caveat – One shouldn’t have a tight schedule when traveling via Amtrak, delays can and do occur – especially the east bound trains.

  • Colorado Railroad Museum  – Located west of downtown Denver in Golden, the museum houses a large collection of rolling stock and railroad memorabilia. Youngster love the yearly Day Out with Thomas (The Tank Engine scheduled for September 18, 19, 25 & 26, 2010 – reserved admission tickets required. The seasonal Trick or Treat Train will operate October 30 & 31.

  • Tiny Town In the foothills just off US285, Tiny Town attracts the pre-school set to the oldest kid-sized village and railroad in the United States. The miniature railroad, powered by coal-fired locomotives, loops through the village of more than 100 buildings and along the hillsides of Turkey Creek Canyon. After riding the train, investigate the 1/6-scale structures handcrafted by volunteers; be sure to peek into windows and skylights. A playground and picnic area encourages families to linger. Open weekends, 10am-5pm, during September.

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