There’s nothing better than the feeling of a light wind in your face as you stare out at a stunning view! Take a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for a once in a lifetime experience on one of the most scenic train routes in the country. There’s no better time to book an adventure and take the Durango train ride.
I have been on multiple trains throughout Europe, Asia, and the US, but none have compared to the views that I saw on the Durango train. This ride takes you through the impressive San Juan National Forest and follows the Rio Grande River up the mountains. Along the way, you’ll be able to see some areas that are only accessible by foot or train.
Find out everything you need to know about taking this train including how to book it, what to expect, and when to go. Strap in and get ready for one of the best train rides that you will ever take!
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Durango Train Ride Details
What is the train?
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a historic train route that takes you through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. This locomotive is one of the few that has been running the same exact way since the late 1800s. So, the train company prides itself on the fact that it still uses the original equipment in the train and ensures that you will feel as if you have been transported back in time.
People come from far and wide to go on this train, because it is an incredible experience. The train track winds through narrow passes and canyons through the San Juan National Forest. Along the way, you will see unparalleled views and places that are impossible to get to unless you travel by foot. So, take a step back in time and go on one of the most beautiful and exciting train rides in the country!
These trains have a few different compartments including an outdoor standing car with open windows and a cafe car. You can purchase food on the train or you can order ahead to get a boxed lunch. However, you are welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages, so you may opt to do that to save some money on your trip!
When should I go?
Due to the condensed route in Winter, the best time to go on the train is from the late Spring to early Fall where you can experience the ride in its entirety. If you want the best experience, then you should wait for the summer months to book the train from Durango to Silverton and back!
However, all times of year provide majestic views and an amazing experience. During the Spring, you will be able to see wildflowers in bloom along the ride and the rushing river from the snowpack. In the summer, you’ll see bright blue skies and warm vibrant colors. Fall allows you to see the leaves change colors and amazing hues of orange and yellow. Finally, in the winter you can see the snow covered mountains and the river run from snowmelt.
What are the Train Routes?
During the winter, you can book the train to Cascade Canyon and back again. The entire ride takes five hours with a stop for lunch in Cascade Canyon. When you get to the canyon, you can explore the area by foot and walk along the gorgeous rushing river. There are many picnic tables and rocks along the shoreline, so that you can enjoy the view. The lunch stop is brief, so listen for the locomotive whistle to board the train and head back.
If you want the full experience, then you will want to take this route. The train travels through the mountains for 2 ½ hours before reaching Silverton. Once you get to Silverton, you are given an hour to explore the town, grab a bite to eat, or go shopping. The entire trip takes about 9 hours, but it’s quite an adventure! You can book this route from the dates of 5/7-10/29.
How can I book the train?
You can book this train either on the website or you can call ahead. If you are visiting during peak season, you will want to plan in advance so you don’t miss out. Even when we booked in the middle of winter, we had a hard time getting train seats together! You don’t want to miss the opportunity to explore this magical area of the country that you won’t be able to see any other way.
What are the best seats?
When I was researching this train, I saw a few sites that had recommendations on which side of the train to sit on. However, that is actually silly and you do not need to worry about the side you are on. The train turns around at either Cascade Canyon or Silverton and then you will get the opportunity to see the vantage point from the other side. Instead, you should worry about the type of seat you purchase.
There are a few different types of railroad cars on the Durango Train, so you will want to read below to pick the best one. You can sit in one of the standard coach cars ($81), but then you will be cramped on a two person bench seat with no other amenities. Luckily, all of the windows next to the seats open if you want a breeze or to get a picture that is undisturbed. However, on the Cascade Canyon train, you can pay a few extra dollars for a Gondola seat ($86) that will have a larger area to sit in with bigger open windows.
On the Silverton train there are a few different seats to choose from anywhere from standard Coach to the best seats which are the First Class Alamosa Parlor Car. Although there is a wide variety of price, while coach tickets cost $101, the first class tickets range from $192-$224. If you are willing to pay the larger fee or you have the budget, then you may want to experience these luxe seats.
The Durango Train ride is a unique experience that is worth the hype! You’ll love getting a chance to feel like you’ve been transported back in time as you watch the train cut through cliff sides and by the Rio Grande River. Book this epic adventure and prepare yourself for unparalleled views and a fun adventure!
Let me know in the comments if you found this guide helpful and if you booked the train!
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