The rugged mountains of Colorado offer a range of rail adventures for school groups. Whether students are hub-and-spoking from Denver or touring the southern part of the state, they can hop a ride with three sightseeing rail companies described here.
Located 65 miles west of Denver, Georgetown is a quaint mountain outpost that was known as the “Silver Queen of the Rockies” during its mining heyday in the 1870s and 1880s. The Georgetown Loop Railroad's main sightseeing ride goes along a stretch of the Clear Creek Valley and up a steep incline—the train rises 640 feet in just 3.1 miles—between Georgetown and Silver Plume.
A favorite with student groups is a combo package called the Everett Gold Panning & Silver Mine Tour. This program, which includes a tour and a gold-panning experience at the Everett Mine, recalls the city’s boomtown days. Two programs featuring the Lebanon Silver Mine also are available.
Down in the Four Corners area of the state, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad cuts through the San Juan National Forest to connect its namesake cities. The historical line, which began operating more than 135 years ago, has sightseeing rides and special-event trains that take passengers along the Animas River.
In addition to enjoying a ride on the rails, students can take the Rail Yard Tour near the depot in downtown Durango. As part of the one-hour tour, they see rolling stock and visit the machine shop, roundhouse, car shop, and the D&SNGRR Railroad Museum.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad offers an unforgettable day trip between Antonito, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico. Coal-fired steam engines power the trips that showcase a variety of landscapes: deep canyon gorges, green meadows, and the high desert along the 64-mile route.
Groups can start in either Antonito or Chama, take the train to the other city, and catch a motorcoach back to their departure point. Or, the schedule can be flipped, with a bus ride to begin the day, then a train tour providing the return transportation to either destination. A buffet lunch is provided on all of those routes, and school groups of 20 or more receive discounted pricing on tickets.
To learn more on these three railroad providers, contact:
Top photo: Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Photo by Flickr/psyberartist: bit.ly/3arpDCP
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