Riding The Durango Silverton Railroad

Among Colorado’s Tourist attractions, The Durango Silverton Railroad is considered the Crown Jewels of Colorado’s railroads. The Durango Silverton Railroad is also rated as one of top 10 Scenic and Historic Railroads in the world.

The Durango Silverton Railroad

So, hop aboard a coal-fired, steam-powered train rumble along the rails and you will live a little bit of Western Colorado history.

The Durango Train travels along the same railroad tracks that miners, cowboys, and early settlers used over a hundred and twenty five years ago. The sight sounds and smells give you a true sensation of how it was to travel by train in the 1880s.

Water Stop

Once you get into the mountains, there are no roads, no houses. The railroad line borders the Weminuche wilderness. The Durango Train and tracks are the only signs of civilization.

You are treated to shear cliffs, water falls, high mountain peaks and a river below which varies from tranquil flows to raging rapids.

The Durango Silverton Railroad Company has a variety of cars and accommodations to choose from. They range from open-air gondolas to parlor cars, and The Presidental car. They even have glass canopy open-air gondolas to provide over head scenic views.

The open cars are nice and scenic but after riding in them couple of times, now I prefer the creature comforts of the parlor cars.

The parlor cars have only guests 21 and they must be over 16 year old. You ride in comfortable seats around small tables.

The parlor car is usually the last car in each train. It has is a platform open only to parlor guests. You can get some great shots of the train when it goes around a bend.

The parlor cars have an attendant dedicated to guests only. The crew was extremely helpful and interesting. They loved to tell stories, really made the trip fun. The attendants work for tips, so please be generous at the end of your ride.

For Standard seating, I try to get tickets for the right side of the train; it is the more picturesque.

The Durango Silverton Railroad trip is not narrated so I suggest, purchasing the guide book Cinders and Smoke by Doris B Osterwald at Amazon.com befor your trip. It is a mile by mile guide for riding the rails. The book makes the trip much more enjoyable and entertaining.

If there is any chance of snow or cool weather, I would also suggest opting for an enclosed car. If the weather is nice, I would suggest the open cars for better photo shots.

Soot and cinders from the locomotive may be a problem at times. I recommend a hat and sun glasses. Generally, the farther from the engine the less problem you will have with soot.

Western Colorado is noted for its short sudden summer showers. Snow is not uncommon in the higher elevation. So it is best to bring jackets, hat and rain gear. Bring a blanket if you are riding an open car.

Molas Divide Seen From The bus

The best option available is to take a bus one way and the train the other. You see totally different scenery.

The bus travels the million dollar highway. This route is much higher than that of the train, and is several valleys away, making for a very scenic drive.

Another benefit to taking the train/bus option is it shortens the trip. The buses arrive in Silverton before the train and you beat the crowds.

On the return trip the bus arrives in Durango, Colorado two hours before the train.

While at Silverton you have 2 hours and 15 minutes to have lunch and explore the town. I suggest the following restaurants:

Grumpy’s at the Grand the Grand Imperial Hotel- an old-time saloon/restaurant. You will love the piano player in the bar area it really added to the ambience.

The Pickle Barrel restaurant – a totally pleasant surprise – highly recommends the toasted ravioli salad – simply scrumptious.

Natalia’s 1912 Restaurant and had the buffet. Food is very good.

Handlebars Saloon. The burgers are pretty good. Note that Handlebars can be crowded when the trains hit town.

If you are spending the night in Silverton, The Wyman, a bed and breakfast in a 110 year old victorian hotel is you very best choice. If you like you even stay in their classy caboose.

The Railrad has numberous packages available in different price ranges and adventures, from theme excusions to train rides and river rafting. To book you special adventure on the Train, this is the contact.

  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
  • 479 Main Ave
  • Durango, Colorado 81301
  • Reservations: (970) 247-2733
  • General Information: (970) 247-2733
  • Toll Free: (877) 872-4607
  • Administration: (970) 259-0274

I have found that Durango Silverton Railroad is a most amazing experience. If you are considering it at all, you will not be disappointed.

Let’s hop aboard.