Train Trips in the Southwestern United States - Ride the Rails in the West

Vacation Trips for Railroad Fans

Ride the Rails
••• Elizabeth R. Rose

Love trains? All aboard! Enjoy scenic and historic train rides in the Southwest. We have selected some great excursions for train buffs and sightseers alike. Some are short trips and others can be made into a train lovers vacation.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad - Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico

This railroad is located in southern Colorado close to the New Mexico border. Built-in 1880 and little changed since the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the finest and most spectacular example of steam era mountain railroading in North America.

Its equipment, structures, and vast landscape exist today as if frozen in the first half of the twentieth century. When the season begins, usually in May, trains run seven days a week through mid-October. All trains except the “Cinder Express” stop for lunch at Osier, Colorado—roughly the mid-point of the railroad—where a hot meal with salad bar and homemade desserts is included in the fare. The “Cinder Express” includes a box lunch. The railroad hosts some great special events over the season. More...

Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad

The historic mining town of Leadville, Colorado has tucked away in a magnificent alpine valley at the base of the state's highest peak. Time it right and you might be there for a wildflower hike trip or include some rafting. (Not reviewed - Suggested by a reader).

Santa Fe Southern Railway - Lamy and Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ride a working freight train through high desert scenery on this 4-hour round trip from the historic depot in Santa Fe to Lamy, a sleepy little village 18 miles southeast of Santa Fe and reminiscent of turn-of-the-century Wild West days!

Special trips available on many holidays.

Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Guage Railway - Cripple Creek, Colorado

This unique four-mile round trip includes an interesting and educational narration on the rich history only a dynamic gold town could produce. Also stops at special points of interest, impressive photo spots, and Echo Valley.

All of the Cripple Creek locomotives are narrow gauge coal-fired steam locomotives. Half the fun is watching them take on water and fire up the coal engines. The trips are short but enjoyable.

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway - Durango, Colorado

The D&SNGRR is located in Durango, Colorado in the beautiful Four Corners region. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds through spectacular and breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the two-million acre San Juan National Forest for an unforgettable year-round adventure. Experience the adventure of traveling by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive on the same tracks miners, cowboys and settlers of the Old West took over a century ago. Relive history with the sights and sounds of yesteryear for a truly spectacular railroad journey.

Grand Canyon Railway - Williams, Arizona

A ride on the Grand Canyon Railway is a fun and environmentally friendly way to visit the Grand Canyon – No wait at the gate, no driving and parking problems and, when you are tired after a long day, you'll ride in style, enjoy live music and savory snacks and drinks as you watch the sun slip down over the western prairie.

Verde Canyon Railroad - Clarkdale, Arizona

The remote wilderness of the Verde Canyon, located west of Sedona and below Jerome, is renowned for its towering red rock pinnacles and clean, green waters.

The train rolls past Indian ruins, through a 680-foot man-made tunnel, over old-fashioned trestles, and under clear azure skies. In the winter you may see eagles. Over thirty bald and golden eagles winter in the canyon each year. Passengers enjoy this four-hour scenic train ride in the first-class style aboard renovated passenger coaches and open-air viewing cars pulled by vintage locomotives. Look for seasonal specialty trips such as a Christmas trip with Santa and a Fall Colors trip. Article and Review.

Austin Steam Train - Austin, Texas

Escape from the 21st Century and relax on a ride through American railroading’s romantic past. Let the rivers and ranches of the Texas Hill Country, or the historic neighborhoods and lush parks of the heart of Austin, slip by your window as you, your family and friends share the delights of an adventure on Central Texas’ very own vintage passenger train!

Choose from a variety of day excursions. More...

Pike's Peak Cog Railway

Ever want to know what it feels like to be at 14,000 feet? Well, the Pike's Peak Cog Railway will get you up and back ever so gently. Located just outside Colorado Springs, this is a great trip up the mountain. The round trip lasts three hours and ten minutes. This includes 30 to 40 minutes on the summit. They are closed most of the winter.

Virginia & Truckee Railroad

Take a 35-minute excursion back into the Old West. Journey over the original Virginia & Truckee Railroad from Virginia City, through tunnel 4 to Gold Hill, Nevada. (unreviewed) More information

You can also catch the V&T Railroad, known as the "Queen of the Shortlines," at the other end of the line. You'll get WIld West history, spectacular scenery, authentic steam engines and a whole lot of creating memories with two lines to ride. It's something kids of all ages will love. More on this Virginia City, Nevada Excursion.