All aboard! You don’t want to miss these three incredible Colorado train rides.
Scenic Colorado Train Rides
Train travel was once a main mode of transportation in Colorado. Today, many of the historic railroad lines in Colorado have been restored. These restored train routes offer visitors a unique and incredible way to see the beauty of Colorado.
I have always thought train travel was fascinating. But, my experience riding trains was mainly in other countries. When I moved to Colorado I was so excited to find opportunities to ride trains very close to home.
Whether or not you are a train enthusiast, these Colorado train rides are a hit for all ages.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad
Located at an elevation of 10,152 feet, the town of Leadville, Colorado is the highest incorporated city in North America. Riding the Leadville train from this historic mining town in the rocky mountains is an experience you don’t want to miss.
The Leadville train takes you high on the mountainside providing incredible views of the Arkansas River Valley. Another highlight of the trip is the views of the two tallest peaks in Colorado, Mt Massive and Mt Elbert.
Pack a picnic lunch! You are allowed to bring your own food and drink on the train, just no outside alcohol. Alcohol is available for purchase in the concession car.
The ride is approximately two and a half hours and goes out twice daily in the summer. Several special evening dinner train rides are also available through the summer and fall.
Daily train rides are offered in the fall. Riding the train through bright yellow stands of aspen is a great way to experience fall in Colorado.
New for 2021 is the Holiday Express train ride, offered on weekends in late November through December. New heated cars are provided for this trip. Instead of charging per person, you can book either a two or four-person table for a set price.
Book tickets through the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad website.
Getting There- The drive from Denver to Leadville is just over two hours. Take I-70 west to CO-91 (Copper Mountain Exit # 195) and then US-24 into Leadville
Stop in Copper Mountain on your way to the Leadville Train or back to Denver and ride the Mountain coaster for the best day EVER. For more info read – Why You Should Visit Copper Mountain In The Summer
Georgetown Loop Railroad
The scenic narrow gauge Georgetown Loop Railroad travels two miles between the small towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume along the I-70 corridor.
The Georgetown Loop was built back in 1884 and quickly became a tourist attraction bringing tourists up from Denver to see the mountains. Today the Steam Locomotive is still a draw, attracting thousands of people every summer to experience the scenic train ride.
Five different departure times from Georgetown are offered daily in the summer.
The train cars are open-air. Book your train ride in the morning for the best chance of good weather. Summer days in the Rocky Mountains usually start out sunny with rain showers moving in after noon.
You also have the option to add a mine tour and gold panning onto your train ride. The mine tour adds an hour and a half to your adventure and is very informative, interesting, and lots of fun.
Note – Mine tours sell out, especially on weekends so book as far in advance as you can. Also, children under 5 years old are not allowed on the mine tour.
Read all about the Everett Mine Tour at the halfway point of the Georgetown Loop- Exploring the Abandoned Gold Mines of Colorado – Kid-Approved Mine Tours That Can’t Be Missed
In the winter, you can book a train ride with Santa from mid-November through December. I have never done this but have heard from friends that their kids loved it.
Visit the Georgetown Loop Railroad website to buy tickets.
Getting There – It is an easy 45-minute drive from Denver to Georgetown. I-70 West from Denver, Georgetown exit #228.
Amtrak California Zephyr
Riding the Amtrak California Zephyr through Colorado is an epic experience. We rode the Amtrak from Colorado all the way to California a few years ago and it was one of our most memorable family trips.
You don’t have to ride the Amtrak all the way to California for an incredible Amtrak experience. By far the most scenic section of the Amtrak train ride through Colorado is the six-hour ride from Denver to Glenwood Springs.
After boarding the train at Union Station downtown, the Amtrak heads straight for the mountains with stops in the small Colorado towns of Frasier (near Winter Park Ski Resort) and Granby (near Grand Lake and the Western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park). From Granby, the train follows the Colorado River through the rugged Gore Canyon. There are no roads through Gore Canyon so a train ride is the only way to view it! After Gore Canyon, the Amtrak continues to follow the Colorado River all the way through the beautiful Glenwood Canyon.
For the ultimate adventure, stay in Glenwood Springs for a few nights before taking the Amtrak back to Denver. The train arrives in Glenwood Springs in the afternoon and leaves in the morning. The timing works out great to spend a night or two in town.
There is so much to do in Glenwood Springs! Read – Things To Do In Glenwood Springs Colorado – Summer or Winter
If you are planning a day trip from Denver to Glenwood Springs, I would suggest booking a seat in coach. When the train nears the mountains, find a seat in the view car. The view car has windows that go all the way up into the ceiling providing the best opportunity for taking in the incredible mountain views. The view car has first-come-first-served open seating for all passengers.
If you plan to ride the Amtrak all the way to California, I would suggest booking one of the Amtrak Sleeper Cars.
For more information on riding the Amtrak overnight read –
The Ultimate Guide to Riding the Amtrak Train From Colorado to California
Choosing the Right Amtrak Sleepercar For Your Overnight Train Ride
Visit Amtrak’s website to book your train ride.
*Book early to secure your spot, Amtrak trains book out far in advance in the summertime.
I can’t wait to check out more of the scenic Colorado train rides (there are still several I haven’t done yet).
If you’ve ridden a train in Colorado I’d love to hear about your experience, feel free to comment below.
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David Michael Bashay says
Haven’t done it yet but looking to ride from Salt Lake City to Denver next July.
The ride will be beautiful but the timing isn’t ideal from Salt Lake. The Amtrak leaves SLC at 3:30 AM if it happens to be running on time. The return times would work out well if the Amtrak is on schedule- leaving Denver at 8 am, arriving in SLC at 11 pm. But, the Amtrak is known to frequently run late. When we arrived in SLC from Denver it was after 2:00 am. Just something to keep in mind.