5 trains I’ve really enjoyed
There is something about a train that I really like. The sound of the whistle, the chug up an incline, and the views that they provide of areas that are possibly inaccessible. Many vacations include train rides of some sort for me. I’ve had fun on trains in Alaska, Colorado, and Texas. I’d love to do a writers retreat on Amtrak, but the competition is a bit stiff. Here’s my top five favorites~so far.
The historic White Pass & Yukon Route train traverses some of the steepest climbs and sharpest curves as it winds its’ way from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon Territory. Probably my introduction to narrow gauge railroads, this ride terrified me with the heights of some of the areas, but the beauty was fantastic. Waterfalls, mountains, and we could even see the leftovers from the gold prospectors who climbed these mountains during the Gold Rush. Pots, pans, axes, axles from carts they used to pull their necessities up the mountain side. Quite an incredible journey.
The McKinley Explorer is the coolest way into Denali National Park & Preserve. Our run on this train included our meal though you hated to leave the dome cars. There are many views of Denali along the three-hour trip, and we were on a watch for wildlife. This was the year I traveled Alaska with seven family members, and we had a contest going on as to who would be the first to see the bears. Consider taking the train into Denali if you’re going to Alaska. You’ll have more time to drool over the landscape, and spend less time focusing on driving!
There are many trains traveling over the mountains in Colorado and we try to include a train on every trip.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, like most railroads in Colorado, was put in place to move mining ores from the mountains into the towns. This past summer, we took this train as part of our tickets for Soaring Tree Top Zip Line adventures. The ride starts in Durango and winds its’ way along the Animas River out of town and into the mountains on a gradual 4% grade climb. At one point, 400 feet above the river is an area called the High Line where the builders needed to cut into the mountainside in order to lay the tracks. Yikes! Save some time for the free train museum with the history of this line including the original, hand-drawn blueprints for the tracks.
Royal Gorge Railroad leaves from Canon City, Colorado and follows the Arkansas River. Another train line built for the mining age in Colorado that has turned to tourism to keep it running. The open car is great for pictures as you reel from looking over 800 feet above your head at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Zip Line. We saw rafters in the river and wildlife all along the two-hour route. The food served on board is Organic, farm-raised, and quite tasty.
All I wanna say bad about the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad is that is was too far from where we were staying (in Gunnison) to sightsee on our way to catching our ride! We made one too many photo op stops and ended up speeding through town to make our train departure. A two and a half hour ride through the Rocky Mountains along the Arkansas River valley netted views of the San Isabel National Forest and the commentary through the whole trip tells the tales of yep, you guessed it, mining in Colorado. I don’t actually know how the people of that day got any work done seeing these views while building the railroads or riding the trains.
I still have a few in Colorado I wish to travel on like the Cumbres & Toltec out of Antonito Colorado, the Georgetown Loop in Colorado, the Northern Lights Tour in Alaska, and the Rocky Mountaineer through the Canadian Rockies.
What’s on your train list? Please share where you’ve been or where you want to go.
Thanks for reading!