8 Scenic Train Rides In Colorado That Wind Through The Mountains

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Colorado mountain train with steam engine

Trains are a big part of Colorado‘s history, and because of that, there are still lots of different and incredible train rides that you can take through Colorado today. Many of the current tourist train rides in Colorado are on tracks that were laid hundreds of years ago; train enthusiasts have made sure that these railways are maintained and preserved.

You’ll love exploring Colorado by train! It’s a great way to get away from the roads to experience the mountains in the same way that people did long ago. The views are incredible, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and take it all in. Read on to learn more about your options for scenic train rides in Colorado.

TL;DR Scenic Train Rides In Colorado

Train Route Departure City Arrival City Travel Duration Ticket Price
Georgetown Loop Railroad Georgetown Georgetown 1 hour RT $20-40
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Durango Durango 5-9 hours RT $89-279
Winter Park Express Ski Train Denver Denver 2 hours each way $49
Royal Gorge Route Railroad Cañon City Cañon City 2 hours RT $89-$119
Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Cripple Creek Cripple Creek 45 minutes RT $17
Leadville Railroad Leadville Leadville 2.5 hours RT $30
Manitou Pikes Peak Railway Manitou Springs Manitou Springs 3 hours RT $71
Colorado Amtrak Nine Colorado Stations Nine Colorado Stations Varies Varies

1. Georgetown Loop Railroad

Georgetown Loop Railroad on a Bridge
Andrew Lundquist / Adobe Stock

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is one of the most popular train rides in Colorado. It’s less than an hour from Denver, and it runs year-round between Georgetown and Silver Plume.

The ride is only two miles long, but you’ll love the short journey back and forth – especially the high bridge crossing at the beginning and end of your trip. In one direction, you’ll also get narration that will tell you about the history of this railroad, which first opened in 1877.

  • Train Route: Georgetown -> Silver Plume -> Georgetown
  • Travel Duration: 1 hour
  • Ticket Price: Varies by season and class; ~$20-$40

See Related: Where To Stay In Denver: Best Areas & Neighborhoods

2. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango Silverton Railroad Passing on a Mountain range
Ken Hurst / Adobe Stock

If you’re exploring the southwestern part of Colorado, you’ll love taking a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This railway is a designated National Historic Landmark, and it’s easy to see why. The route originally opened in 1882 and has run continuously on its 45 miles of track through the San Juan National Forest ever since.

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers several different options for scenic train rides and a few different classes of service. The Cascade Canyon Express, for one example, is a five-hour, roundtrip route with incredible views that goes about halfway to Silverton.

Alternatively, you could take the Scenic Round Trip Silverton Train all the way to Silverton for a longer ride that’s 3.5 hours each way with a stop in Silverton. If you don’t want to take the train both ways, you can take a bus back instead. Or, if you want to spend a night in Silverton and take the train back the next day, that’s an option that’s offered, too.

  • Train Route: Durango -> Silverton -> Durango
  • Travel Duration: Varies; 5 hours to 9 hours, depending on the route you choose
  • Ticket Price: $89-$279

3. Winter Park Express Ski Train

Colorado Amtrak Passanger Train
arinahabich / Adobe Stock

The Winter Park Express Ski Train is a gem! This train allows skiers to quickly and easily travel from Denver’s historic Union Station to the town of Winter Park.

The route is 56 miles in length; on the way, you’ll gain 4,000 feet of elevation and pass through 30 tunnels, and when you arrive in Winter Park, you’ll only be 100 feet from the closest ski lift. The entire trip is full of beautiful scenery.

This train route began in 1940, but due to rising costs, service was discontinued in 2009. However, thanks to a partnership with Amtrak, it was revitalized in 2017. It runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from January to March.

  • Train Route: Denver Union Station -> Winter Park -> Denver Union Station
  • Travel Duration: 2 hours each way
  • Ticket Price: $49

4. Royal Gorge Route Railroad

Royal Gorge Route Railroad Passing a Mountain Range
skostep / Adobe Stock

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is a heritage railroad that is based in Cañon City. This train runs daily, year-round, from the Santa Fe Depot in Cañon City to Parkdale, Colorado, and back; the round-trip journey takes about two hours.

This train travels through the Royal Gorge and passes under the famous Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, which is suspended at 956′ above the gorge floor. Its travel route is a famous section of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad along the spectacular Arkansas River. You’ll love the farm-to-table, locally sourced food served in the onboard restaurant, as well.

  • Train Route: Cañon City -> Cañon City
  • Travel Duration: 2 hours
  • Ticket Price: Varies by class and event; ~$89-$119

5. Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge

Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Train
Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad / Facebook

The Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad is a seasonal train that serves tourists visiting Cripple Creek from mid-May to October. The route is only four miles in length, and the trip is only 45 minutes long, but it’s a great way to see more of the beauty of Colorado when visiting this area.

This train is especially popular because of the steam-powered locomotive that pulls it and because of the train’s open-air cars. Further, passengers can enjoy narration along the way to learn more about the rich history of this historic mining town and area.

  • Train Route: Cripple Creek -> Cripple Creek
  • Travel Duration: 45 minutes
  • Ticket Price: $17

See Related: Best Hikes in Denver for Epic Views (From a Local)

6. Leadville Railroad

Leadville Railroad Train  in Snow
Leadville Railroad / Facebook

You’ll love this scenic train ride that departs from Leadville. The Leadville Railroad is another short tourist train that winds through the mountains; it’s considered to be one of the best train rides in Colorado by many.

This train runs daily from Memorial Day weekend through September and offers weekly rides from October to April. It’s been operational since 1988.

The Leadville Railroad is lovely at any time of the year, but many people come back to ride this train every year during the fall season to check out the foliage. The train is pulled by a historic diesel locomotive; it departs from Leadville, heads north for a few miles, and then returns to Leadville. The journey takes about two hours round trip.

  • Train Route: Leadville -> Leadville
  • Travel Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Ticket Price: $30

7. The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway Train
Randy Runtsch / Adobe Stock

There are several ways to get to the top of Pikes Peak. You can walk (or run) up the 2,744 steps of the Manitou Incline.

You can drive up the Pikes Peak Highway to the top. Or, you can take the easy way, and ride the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. We recommend this option!

This tourist train has been in operation since 1890. It was recently renovated between 2017 and 2021 at a cost of $100 million, and now it’s ready to keep doing what it does for another century, at least.

It runs all year. The round-trip journey to the top and back down will take about three hours, including the one-hour trip to the top, 40 minutes at the summit, and an hour and ten minutes back down.

Although this train trip is straight up and straight down, you’ll love the amazing views you’ll see en route to the top. This is a great way to get to the top of one of Colorado’s tallest mountains without exhausting yourself!

  • Train Route: Manitou Springs -> Pikes Peak -> Manitou Springs
  • Travel Duration: 3 hours
  • Ticket Price: $71

See Related: Places to Visit in Colorado in the Winter

8. Colorado Amtrak

Colorado Amtrak Train
Branden / Adobe Stock

Finally, Colorado Amtrak is a wonderful way to see and enjoy Colorado by train. Colorado has two Amtrak routes; both take passengers across the state and can be ridden from Chicago to California if you wish. People who stay onboard will end up near San Francisco if they ride the California Zephyr, or they can head to Los Angeles instead by riding the Southwest Chief.

There are nine Amtrak stations in Colorado. If you don’t want to ride Amtrak all the way across the state but want to wind through the mountains on a train, you might consider taking the California Zephyr from Denver’s Union Station across the Rocky Mountains to Grand Junction. If that’s a bit long for you, you can disembark in Fraser-Winter Park, Glenwood Springs, or Granby and then head back home from there.

Traveling on Amtrak is a wonderful way to travel through the Rockies. You’ll be amazed at some of the places this train goes along the way. Be sure to have your camera ready.

  • Train Route: All the way across the state or start and end at any of nine Colorado stations
  • Departure City: Up to you! Denver, Fort Morgan, Winter Park, Glenwood Springs, Granby, Grand Junction, Lamar, La Junta, Trinidad, or start and end beyond Colorado
  • Arrival City: See above
  • Travel Duration: Varies by destination
  • Ticket Price: Varies by destination

FAQs

When is the best time of year to take train rides in Colorado?

Some of the trains listed above only run seasonally, so keep that in mind when choosing among them, but really, any time of year is lovely for a train ride through the mountains. You’ll love seeing the foliage in the fall, the greenery in the spring, and the wildlife and wildflowers in the summer.
In the wintertime, the snow is also quite breathtaking to view. Several of the train companies listed above offer a Polar Express train ride, so you can even meet Santa on a winter train if you’d like.

Which of the train rides above are best for families?

Your little ones will enjoy a ride on any of the trains listed above, but the best train rides for children are usually the shorter ones. Trains are very exciting at first for people of all ages, but some kids may get bored on longer rides.

If you’re planning on bringing children along, shoot for a ride that’s two hours round trip or less. If that goes well, you can try a longer ride next time.

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Christy Articola
WRITTEN BY

Christy Articola

Christy is was born and raised in upstate New York but she has lived in Denver, Colorado for the past decade with her partner, Billy, and their cat, Lucy. Traveling is her favorite thing to do in the whole world, but she also loves writing, reading, being outdoors, seeing live music, cooking, creating art in many mediums, napping, spending time with friends and family, and laughing heartily as often as possible.

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