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Seven Colorado destinations for train enthusiasts

May 11, 2017 Updated: June 1, 2017 at 3:09 pm
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A train passes on the Georgetown Loop Railroad on Thursday, July 14, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

Begin your immersion in the golden age of train travel at Golden's Colorado Railroad Museum (coloradorailroadmuseum.org). The 15-acre rail yard is home to more than 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses.

A train passes on the Georgetown Loop Railroad on Thursday, July 14, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette 

A jaunt up Interstate 70 will deposit you onto the Georgetown Loop Railroad (georgetownlooprr.com). The gorgeous stretch of three-foot narrow gauge track between Silver Plume and Georgetown was finished in 1884 and considered a marvel of its time.

Chug into Leadville for the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad's journey (leadville-train.com) to the Continental Divide along two old lines: the Denver, South Park and Pacific, and the Colorado and Southern. Starting May 27, absorb the scenery of the Arkansas River Valley while listening to narratives about the colorful past.

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train, pulled by steam locomotive number 482, traverses the "mini-highline", a rock shelf where the train track follows the edge of a small cliff in the Animas River Gorge between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. Smoke is spewing from the locomotive's smokestack as it pulls up the grade. 

Down in the southwestern part of the state resides the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum (durangotrain.com), a line that was constructed to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains. Nowadays, folks hop aboard the coal-fired, steam-powered train for views that are beyond compare. National Geographic Traveler called it the No. 1 North American train trip. Hiking enthusiasts will want to hop off at the Needleton stop to access Chicago Basin, where a glut of wildflowers, mountain goats and 14,000-foot peaks awaits.

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (coloradotrain.com) in Alamosa carries train lovers on select days over La Veta Pass on tracks that were completed in 1878. The ride becomes a party come summer during the weekend concert series Mountain Rails Live and other special events, including Rails and Ales in June.

The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad train makes its way over La Veta Pass near the Fir Station on the way back to Alamosa from La Veta Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. The trip was the last daily one of the season. The railroad will run special excursion through the winter such as the North Pole Express during the holiday season. For more information visit: www.coloradotrain.com. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 
Rafter float down the Arkansas River and by the Royal Gorge Route Railroad train while it stops so crew members can clear the tracks of debris following a severe storm that dumped hail in the Royal Gorge on Friday, June 10, 2005. The Gazette, Bryan Oller 

Cañon City is another train mecca with its Royal Gorge Route Railroad (royalgorgeroute.com), a journey through the Rockies on a train specializing in first-class dining and service. The family-owned company runs its train with 17 cars, six classes of service, four bars and five kitchens on a standard gauge train.

Wind up your time-traveling odyssey on the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad (cripplecreekrailroad.com). Beginning May 28, the 45-minute, 4-mile trip on a century-old steam locomotive treks past historic mines and a deserted mining camp.

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