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Durango-Silverton RR...

Desert_Captain
Explorer III
Explorer III
My bride and I just returned from a 4 day 3 night trip to Durango Colorado to celebrate our 53 anniversary. We left the Class C at home and made the 371 mile run from our home in Payson AZ in our Honda Ridgeline. to the General Palmer Hotel in downtown Durango, conveniently located right next to the train station.

The rail line runs 45 miles along the banks of the Animas River between Silverton and Durango and is one of the most spectacular train rides on the planet. Trust me, you need to add this trip to your bucket list if you have not already done so. You can travel round trip on the train from Durango or opt to take a nice Motor coach either up or back. We elected to ride the coach up and the train back which we thoroughly enjoyed.

We have been to Durango and Silverton half a dozen times in our Class C or on my motorcycle over the last ten years but never got around to taking ther train... my bad. The ride up was awesome in that for the first time I was able to enjoy the ride north out of Durango relaxing and taking in all of the scenery one dare not gawk at driving the very challenging highway 550. This trip takes you over Coal Bank and Molas passes both over 10,000'.

The coach ride is a little less than 2 hours and the train up or back is 3.5 hours. Most folks book this trip months in advance and I should have but... with a little luck we got the two best seats on the train at the rear of the Presidential/First Class Animas car which only accommodates 16 passengers and is always the last car in the train giving us unlimited, unrestricted views out the rear of the train.

Summer temps in the mid 90's in Durango gave way to mid 70's by the time we reached Silverton which sits at 9,315'. Arriving at 1115 we had a few hours to wander Silverton enjoying shopping dining and a beverage or two.

Here are a few pics from the trip:









:B
12 REPLIES 12

Cptnvideo
Nomad
Nomad
Glad you and your bride had a great trip, DC.
Bill & Linda, 2019 Ram Laramie 3500 dually 4x4 diesel, Hensley BD5 hitch, 2022 Grand Design Solitude 378MBS, 1600 watts solar, Victron 150/100 MPPT controller, GoPower 3kw inverter/charger, 5 SOK 206AH LFP batteries for 1030 ah

LouLawrence
Explorer
Explorer
Another great trip is the Royal Gorge Route Railway from Cayon City, CO. It's round trip only but a great day. Many options available including the club car or the skyview car (not sure I remember what each car is called) with meal (very good) or without. Plenty of things to do in the area as well if you have extra time.

BB_TX
Nomad
Nomad
Desert Captain wrote:
As I was waaaay late making our reservations we ended up on the diesel locomotive train vs the coal classic. The good news is we got the best seats on the train. When we did the Antonito to Chama run on the Toltec and Cumbres line that was coal/steam powered. Don't remember Any coal dust in my hair but that's probably because I shave me head {I use a lot less shampoo but a lot more sunscreen} :S

When we rode the Cumbres & Toltec inside the coaches I don’t remember any grit. But I rode about half the trip outside in the open air car. And was getting grit out of my eyes for the next 2 days. Also not a good idea to be in that car thru the tunnel! :S

PA12DRVR
Explorer
Explorer
My nearly lifelong friend who lives in the Durango - Bayfield area and I have a running argument over whether Alaska or SW Colorado is more scenic and appealing to outdoorsy folks. I will never admit it to him, but the Durango-Silverton RR or the corresponding drive on the road, is a serious body blow to the "Alaska is better" arguments. Of course, a short flight over the Chugach, Alaska Range, or even the Talkeetnas resolves the question 🙂 but the DGO area is spectacular.
CRL
My RV is a 1946 PA-12
Back in the GWN

d3500ram
Explorer III
Explorer III
I saw on the website the diesel alternative... not sure why that is in place. Thought it might be for when there is high fire danger perhaps. IIRC, there was a forest fire some years ago attributed to the coal locomotive.
Sold the TC, previous owner of 2 NorthStar pop-ups & 2 Northstar Arrows...still have the truck:

2005 Dodge 3500 SRW, Qcab long bed, NV-6500, diesel, 4WD, Helwig, 9000XL,
Nitto 285/70/17 Terra Grapplers, Honda eu3000Is, custom overload spring perch spacers.

Desert_Captain
Explorer III
Explorer III
As I was waaaay late making our reservations we ended up on the diesel locomotive train vs the coal classic. The good news is we got the best seats on the train. When we did the Antonito to Chama run on the Toltec and Cumbres line that was coal/steam powered. Don't remember Any coal dust in my hair but that's probably because I shave me head {I use a lot less shampoo but a lot more sunscreen} :S

Samsonsworld
Explorer
Explorer
Last time I did the Durango to Silverton, the were having trouble with the engine and had to go slow and make extra water stops. Took twice as long....and I loved every second of it.

d3500ram
Explorer III
Explorer III
Congrats, Desert Captain, on the 53 years!

I have done the Durango narrow gauge twice- once in 1975 as a ten year- old and again about a dozen years ago.

My father built a Glen-L travel trailer back in NJ where I grew up. We trekked across the US a few times in it and one time bought us the the Durango area on an excursion down to the Grand Canyon that year. We stayed just to the north of town along side of the river at the local campground... I thought it was the neatest thing to see "our" camper from the train as we headed out.

One thing that really sticks out to me was the coal dust in my hair at the end of the trip from the particles that fell from the stack waff as we traveled.

It is a must- do bucket list item for any train enthusiast.
Sold the TC, previous owner of 2 NorthStar pop-ups & 2 Northstar Arrows...still have the truck:

2005 Dodge 3500 SRW, Qcab long bed, NV-6500, diesel, 4WD, Helwig, 9000XL,
Nitto 285/70/17 Terra Grapplers, Honda eu3000Is, custom overload spring perch spacers.

BB_TX
Nomad
Nomad
Cumbres & Toltec has 3 levels of tickets; coach, deluxe, and parlor. Price increases accordingly. Parlor class is for age 21 and up. Children are probably more likely to be in coach.

Desert_Captain
Explorer III
Explorer III
Yes,, we did the Cumbres and Toltec a couple of years ago. We were camping at Pagosa Riverside and rode my bike to Chama and boarded the bus for the ride up to Antonito. One great train ride and two great motorcycle rides all in one long day. Both trains rides are amazing but I think the constant close proximity of the Animas River gives Durango Silverton the nod.

No kids in our car for the Silverton to Durango run back at the end of the train. Our car had a very nice hostess and all non alcoholic beverages were free with a fully stocked no host bar as well. When our train pulled into Durango we hopped off and walked about ten steps into the parking lot of the General Palmer Hotel, hard to beat that location. The GP is 125 years old and areal trip back in time, would highly recommend it for any Durango stay.

We had a free third day so we spent a good part of it cruising around the San Juan Mountains outside of Durango. Also drove up to the Purgatory ski resort 25 miles north of town. Lots of summer fun going and the views were awesome.

By taking the Honda we saved a bunch on fuel as it gets 27 mpg on the highwway/interstates but then the train ride and hotel , not to mention eating all four meals out made for a fairly pricey adventure. I figured my bride deserved it for having put up with me for 53 years so what the heck.

:B

RCMAN46
Explorer
Explorer
Both train rides are very good. I have done the Silverton two times and the Cumbres & Toltec once.
Suggest asking for a train car without children if you are retired as we are.
The first Silverton run we had a couple unruly children on our car and they totally ruined the experience with their loud bickering and running around.

BB_TX
Nomad
Nomad
Next time you are in that general area, try the Cumbres & Toltec Steam Railroad also. Another awesome train ride. A few miles south of Alamosa, from Antonito, CO to Chama, NM.