Road Scholar : Home
The Best of Colorado’s Historic Railroads

Program Number: 4345RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/18/2014 - 7/26/2014; 6/10/2016 - 6/18/2016; 7/8/2016 - 7/16/2016; 8/5/2016 - 8/13/2016; 9/11/2016 - 9/19/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/26/2016; 9/25/2016 - 10/3/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Denver, Colorado
Price starting at: $2,495.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Train Treks; On the Road Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free    

Ride the historic trains of Colorado and traverse the rugged Rocky Mountains to relive the glory days of train travel. Through interactive lectures, museum visits and railroad rides, trace the parallel development of the railroads and of Colorado’s settlement.


• View the top of America from atop Pikes Peak and relive historic railroad wars in the depths of the Royal Gorge.
• Ride steam trains along the Cumbres & Toltec and Durango & Silverton narrow-gauge railways.
• Experience the engineering marvel Georgetown Loop and journey by 4x4 through the spectacular San Juan Mountains.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one-half mile; Some stairs and uneven terrain. Climbing on/off motorcoach and railroad cars. Elevations of 5,000-14,100 feet.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Denver, 1 night; coach and train to Colorado Springs, 2 nights; coach and train to Alamosa, 1 night; coach and train to Durango, 1 night; coach and train to Ouray, 2 nights; coach and train to Denver, 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Mountains and Plains Institute.

Colorado Springs

At an elevation of 6,035 feet, Colorado Springs is situated near the base of one of the most famous American peaks, Pikes Peak, on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. The second largest city in the state boasts many scenic, cultural and recreational opportunities.


The Victorian mining town of Ouray is surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, the most rugged range in the Rockies. Named after a famous Ute chief, Ouray — on the scenic San Juan Skyway — has been a popular destination of travelers for over a century.


The small city of Alamosa lies at the heart of Colorado’s dramatic San Luis Valley. It has been a railroad town since its founding in 1877, when it was built by and became an important center for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Alamosa is located near Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, home to North America’s tallest dunes.


Settled by gold prospectors in 1858, mile-high Denver today is the capital of Colorado and hub of the Rocky Mountain region. It has gone through booms and busts to become home to skiing, tourism and a thriving multi-cultural community.

Comfortable hotels.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Al Dunton

For more than four decades, Al Dunton has been sharing his knowledge and passion for railroads with thousands of eager rail students and enthusiasts. He has lectured for Colorado State University (CSU) history classes, the CSU American West Lecture Series, and CSU continuing education courses. Al is the owner and managing editor of Centennial Publications, specializing in U.S. railroads, Colorado and western history. Al and his wife, Lynne, live in Fort Collins in their restored 1878 building.
Warren Hill

Warren Hill worked for 36 years in the nation’s park lands during his career with the National Park Service (NPS) until his retirement in 1997. He has served the NPS as associate regional director for Operations in the Midwest, as manager of scenic rivers in Nebraska and South Dakota, and historic sites for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in New York, and as a Park Ranger in several parks and monuments in the Southwest. Warren is an active birder, hiker, skier, and student of natural history.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
  Denver, CO 1 night
   Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs
  Colorado Springs, CO 2 nights
   Holiday Inn Express Alamosa
  Alamosa, CO 1 night
   Best Western Inn and Suites
  Durango, CO 1 night
   Ouray Chalet Inn
  Ouray, CO 2 nights
   Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
  Denver, CO 1 night
 Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Denver Airport hotel is a premiere boutique style hotel at the Gateway Business Park in Aurora, Colorado. The Hilton Garden Inn Denver Airport hotel serves Denver International Airport and is located off Colorado Interstate I-70 and Pena Boulevard, Colorado's main east-west highway and offers access to I-225, I-25 and E-470.
  Contact info: 16475 E. 40th Circle
Aurora, CO 80011 USA
phone: 303-371-9393
  Room amenities: Complimentary cabled and wireless High Speed Internet access, Hilton Smart Clock with MP3 plug, Refrigerator, Microwave Ovens, Hair Dryer, Curved Shower Curtain Rods, Herman Miller chair and working desk, Coffeemakers, and Iron/Ironing Board.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary 24-hour shuttle service to and from Denver International Airport • Complimentary guest parking • Walking distance to numerous restaurants and businesses • Complimentary 24-hour business center • Fitness center, heated indoor spa and pool • Valet and coin operated laundry
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: As quoted by hotel Participants can contact hotel and make individual arrangements.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: As quoted by hotel Participants can contact hotel and make individual arrangements.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs hotel, with its spectacular views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains Front Range, is conveniently located off Interstate 25 at exit 151. This Colorado Springs, Colorado hotel's location puts you within minutes of the U.S. Air Force Academy, historic downtown Colorado Springs and many area attractions. The Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs, CO hotel is directly across the street from The Promenade Shops at Briargate, with its many fine shops and restaurants.
  Contact info: 1810 Briargate Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80920 USA
phone: 719-598-6866
  Room amenities: Microwaves, refrigerators, cable TV, coffeemakers, hairdryers, iron and boards in all guest rooms
  Facility amenities: Great American Grill® serves breakfast 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience mart Pavilion Lounge Complimentary wireless high-speed Internet in rooms, lobby and restaurant with *secure* PrinterOn remote printing Complimentary 24-hour business center Complimentary USA Today® Heated indoor pool/whirlpool and fitness center
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Holiday Inn Express Alamosa
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 3418 Mariposa
Alamosa, CO 81101 USA
phone: 719-589-4026
  Room amenities: Coffee maker Mini-fridge Microwave Hair dryer
  Facility amenities: Indoor pool Fitness facility Free wifi internet Coin operated washer and dryer
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Best Western Inn and Suites
Type: Motel
  Contact info: 21382 US Highway 160 W
Durango, CO 81303 USA
phone: 970-247-3251
  Facility amenities: Swimming Pool, hot tub
  Smoking allowed: No

 Ouray Chalet Inn
Type: Motel
  Contact info: 510 Main
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
  Smoking allowed: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Arrive and hotel check-in by 3:00 pm. Required orientation at 4:00 pm. You will be staying at Hilton Garden Inn - DIA that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast. Room check-out is 10:00 am. You will be staying at Hilton Garden Inn - DIA the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Acknowledgement of Risk-Liability Waiver Form, Please mail back to: Mountains and Plains Institute 155 W. Harvard Street, Suite 202 Fort Collins, CO 80525
  Parking availability:
Participants can park their car without charge at Hotel for the duration of the program (license plate information is required)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Denver, CO
  Nearest highway: I25 and I70
  Nearest airport:  Denver International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Denver, CO
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Denver International (DEN)


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
see below
phone: 303-371-9393


Travel Time:


30 minutes 


24 hour free airport transportation from DIA to hotel. Phone # for Hilton is 303-371-9393


Denver Amtrak Station


From Train Station






Travel Time:


45 minutes 


AMTRAK arrives/departs at Union Station. No shuttle services operate to/from Denver Union Station, taxi is only service.

Driving Directions
  From Denver International Airport Take Pena Blvd South and Exit on 40th Avenue West/right. Take 40th Avenue to the first intersection (stop light) take a right. Applebees restaurant at the corner. Turn left onto 40th Circle.
  From I-225 Northbound Take Exit 12B to I-70. Go East onto I-70. Travel on I-70 approximately ½ mile. Take Exit 283/ Chambers Rd and go up the ramp to the stoplight. Turn left/north onto Chambers Road. Stay in the right hand lane. Go approximately 350 yards north to 40th Avenue. Turn right/east onto 40th Avenue. Go approximately 1 mile. Just after the Applebees restaurant turn right onto 40th Circle. The hotel is approximately 100 yards ahead on the right.
  From I-70 Eastbound Take Exit 283/Chambers Rd and go up the ramp to the stoplight. Turn left/North onto Chambers Road. Stay in the right hand lane. Go approximately 350 yards North to 40th Avenue. Turn right/east onto 40th Avenue. Go approximately 1 mile. Just after the Applebees restaurant turn right onto 40th Circle. The hotel is approximately 100 yards ahead on the right.
  From I-70 Westbound Take exit 285/Airport Blvd. Go North on Airport Blvd for approximately ¼ mile to 40th Avenue. Turn left onto 40th ave. Go approximately 500 yards to 40th Circle. This will be the second intersection with Applebees restaurant at the corner. Turn left onto 40th circle. The hotel is approximately 100 yards ahead on the right.
Elevation Note: Altitude from 5,200 to 14,110 feet on Pikes Peak; stairs on & off trains, bus, hotels, attractions

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Travel from your home to Denver. Check-in for Hilton Garden Inn DIA will be anytime after 3:00 pm. Tour and Program Orientation starts at 4:00 sharp.
(Friday, July 18)

Note: ALLLL – ABOARD! Colorado’s historic and scenic railroads have unique history and charm. Lovingly maintained tracks and trains, will bring you to the edge of your seat as you marvel the deep canyons below and majestic mountain vistas above. NOTE: Activity Level is Moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators, ability to carry luggage and climb steps required. Walking encountered is up to four blocks (hilly). All participants need to get on and off the motor coach and trains unassisted.

 Afternoon: Upon arrival at the hotel by 3 pm, check in at the front desk. The Program Orientation begins at 4 pm sharp. You will meet your Instructor and Program Director, who will provide important program details and answer all questions. You will also be provided with a luggage tag, name badge, and a package of information describing the program for the week.
 Dinner: Dinner this evening is catered by the Hotel
 Evening: Our Colorado Railroad expert's introductory lecture this evening will begin the fascinating journey of discovery for the amazing rail adventures ahead.
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: We visit this morning the Colorado Railroad Museum. Our first train ride in the afternoon is the engineering marvel, the Georgetown Loop Narrow Gauge Railroad. We end the day in Colorado Springs.
(Saturday, July 19)

Note: Participants will walk and stand during the morning visit to the Railroad Museum. Walking around the town of Georgetown after lunch up to 4 blocks on mostly level streets and sidewalks. Boarding and unboarding from the antique rail coaches and the motorcoach of three steps.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items.
 Morning: We visit the Colorado Railroad Museum in the town of Golden, a former important mill town at the foot of the Rockies. Enjoy a field trip at the 15 acre Museum, where the collection of over 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, and cabooses offer a visual history into the state’s important role in the railroad industry. Also visit the extensive Model Railroad collection, exhibits, roundhouse restoration facility and working turntable.
 Lunch: We travel to the well preserved Victorian mining town of Georgetown for lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy some time to walk around and view the historic downtown surrounded by the rugged mountains.
 Afternoon: We take a thrilling ride on our first historic railway, the Georgetown Loop Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of Colorado’s first visitor attractions. This spectacular stretch of railroad was completed in 1884 and considered an engineering marvel for its time. The thriving mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume lie 2 miles apart in the steep, narrow canyon of Clear Creek. Engineers designed a corkscrew route that traveled nearly twice that distance to connect them, slowly gaining more than 600 feet in elevation. The route included horseshoe curves, grades of up to 4%, and four bridges across Clear Creek, including the massive Devil’s Gate High Bridge crossing the top of the gorge on a 95-foot high trestle. Originally part of the larger line of the Colorado Central Railroad constructed in the 1870s and 1880s, in the wake of the Colorado Gold Rush, this line was used extensively during the silver boom of the 1880s to haul silver ore from the mines at Silver Plume as well as operating for passengers and freight until 1938 when the line was dismantled. It was purchased and restored in the 1980s by the Colorado Historical Society to operate as a tourist railroad.
 Dinner: Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant or catered by our hotel.
 Evening: Free to relax after a long but activity packed day.
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Ascend 14,100 feet Pikes Peak by Cog Railway; visit the Garden of the Gods Park/Glen Eyrie Castle and Grounds; and the historic Broadmore Hotel
(Sunday, July 20)

Note: Walking one to four blocks during stops on the train ride on Pikes Peak, at the Garden of the Gods and the Broadmore Hotel; 3 to 4 steps boarding and unboarding train and motorcoach

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items.
 Morning: After breakfast we travel by coach to Manitou Springs and board the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak Summit. “America’s Mountain” at 14,110 feet elevation. Standing at the summit inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write her famous poem, “America the Beautiful”. Conventional railroads use the friction of wheels upon the rails, called "adhesion", to provide locomotive power. The Pikes Peak Cog, or rack, railroad uses a gear, "cog wheel", meshing into a special rack rail (mounted in the middle between the outer rails) to climb much steeper grades up to 25% than those possible with a standard adhesion railroad. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway's history began with one of the tourists who visited the Pikes Peak region in the late-1880's, Zalmon Simmons, inventor and founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company, rode to the summit of Pike's Peak on a mule, partly to enjoy the view and partly to check upon one of his inventions: an insulator for the telegraph wires which ran to the Army Signal Station on the summit. The arduous, two day trip on a mule was the only way to reach the top in those days. Mr. Simmons was awed by the scenery but determined that the views should be experienced in a more civilized and comfortable manner. He was relaxing in one of Manitou Springs' mineral baths after his return, when the owner of his Hotel mentioned the idea of a railway to the top. Mr. Simmons agreed with the concept and set about providing the capital needed to fund such a venture. On the afternoon of June 30th, 1891, the first passenger train, carrying a church choir from Denver, made it to the summit.
 Lunch: After our thrilling railway ride up Pikes Peak, we travel through the Garden of the Gods Park and it's magnificent red sandstone setting. Looking up at Pikes Peak where we have just been, we eat lunch at the Park Visitor Center.
 Afternoon: We travel through the Garden of the Gods and visit two landmarks, Glen Eyrie Estate and the Broadmore Hotel. Garden of the Gods was named in August of 1859 when two surveyors started out from Denver City to begin a town site, soon to be called Colorado City. While exploring nearby locations, they came upon a beautiful area of sandstone formations. M. S. Beach, who related this incident, suggested that it would be a "capital place for a beer garden" when the country grew up. His companion, Rufus Cable, a "young and poetic man", exclaimed, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods." We visit Glen Eyrie in adjacent Queens Canyon. Glen Eyrie began as the estate of Civil War veteran General William Jackson Palmer, founder of several railroads and the city of Colorado Springs. The name refers to the eagle's nest that overlooks the canyon of which the name "Queen" was the nickname of General Palmer's wife. We visit the beautiful castle and grounds. We conclude the day with a visit to the world famous Broadmore Hotel for a stroll around it's historic structure and beautiful landscaped grounds.
 Dinner: Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant or catered by our hotel.
 Evening: Free to relax after a long but activity packed day.
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Travel to Canon City by coach and board the Royal Gorge Railroad for the morning. Travel by motorcoach to LaVeta and board for the afternoon the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s Excursion Train to Alamosa.
(Monday, July 21)

Note: Walking up to four blocks, 3 to 4 steps boarding and unboarding trains and coach

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items.
 Morning: We ride the Royal Gorge Train. Climb aboard Colorado's most scenic train for a 24 mile journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. Since 1879, these tracks have followed the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring, 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado's Royal Gorge. In the late 1870s miners descended on the upper Arkansas valley of Colorado in search of carbonate ores rich in lead and silver. The feverish mining activity in what would become the Leadville district attracted the attention of the Denver & Rio Grande and the Santa Fe railroads, each already having tracks in the Arkansas valley. The Santa Fe was at Pueblo, and the D&RG near Canon City some 35 miles west. Leadville was over 100 miles away. For two railroads to occupy a river valley ordinarily was not a problem, but west of Canon City was an incredible obstacle - an obstacle that would result in a war between the railroads in the race to the new bonanza ultimately won after two years by the Rio Grande Railroad. Look for the engineering marvel, the "hanging bridge" at a point where the gorge narrows to 30 feet. Here the railroad had to be suspended over the river along the north side of the gorge as shear rock walls go right down into the river on both sides. C. Shallor Smith, a Kansas engineer, designed a 175-ft plate girder suspended on one side by "A" frame girders spanning the river and anchored to the rock walls. The bridge cost $11,759 in 1879, a princely sum in those days. Although it has been strengthened over the years, this unique structure has served on a main rail line for over 118 years.
 Lunch: We return to Canon City and board our motorcoach enjoying a box lunch on our way to the town of LaVeta and our next train ride.
 Afternoon: We arrive in the quaint town of LaVeta in time to board our next railroad adventure, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s Excursion Train. This train takes passengers over an historic mountain pass to see the Rockies from the longest and highest standard gauge railroad in the country. LaVeta Pass is a majestic mountain pass with tight curves, untouched natural beauty and wildlife in the setting it was meant to be seen. This railroad leaves the highway behind as you travel the original rail route from LaVeta to Alamosa our destination for the night. Alamosa is located in the historic San Luis Valley,At altitudes above 7,000 feet the San Luis Valley is technically a high desert, but the surface is underlain by shallow aquifers that in places form lakes, marshlands, and warm springs. By the late 19th century, much of the land was cultivated, crossed by irrigation canals and wagon roads. The valley's scattered wetlands are home to eagles, waders, and waterfowl. The arrival of thousands of sandhill cranes, migrating between New Mexico and southern Idaho, is celebrated in early March by the Monte Vista Crane Festival. Los Caminos Antiguos—a network of ancient trails that live on as modern paved highways—allow you to follow in the footsteps of Apaches and Utes, Spanish missionaries, and Western explorers such as Zebulon Pike and Kit Carson, settlers, Buffalo Soldiers, miners, and railroaders.
 Dinner: Dinner tonight is catered by our hotel.
 Evening: Free for relaxation or enjoy the hotel's swimming pool and spa.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express Alamosa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: All day trip on the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad; arrive Durango by motorcoach in late afternoon
(Tuesday, July 22)

Note: Walking up to one block at lunch stop; 3 to 4 steps boarding and unboarding the train and motorcoach

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items.
 Morning: We take a scenic drive by motorcoach along the San Luis Valley from Alamosa to the tiny town of Antonito to board the Cumbres & Toltec Historic Narrow Gauge Railroad. This is truly a step back in time as the steam engine starts it's winding journey to the top of Cumbres Pass. Built 131 years ago and little changed since, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a 64-mile, fully-operational steam railroad jointly owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico. The railroad operates passenger trains seven days a week, May 28 and ending October 16, 2011. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is recognized around the world for its spectacular scenery and unspoiled vistas, as well as the historic rolling stock and railroad structures that are preserved on the line. Many of the buildings and railroad equipment date to the end of the nineteenth century, making the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad the best preserved steam-era railroad in North America. The railroad's equipment and structures, and the vast landscape of the Colorado and New Mexico border, exist today as if they were frozen in the first half of the twentieth century.
 Lunch: We arrive mid-day for a full buffet Lunch at Osier Station, change trains to continue afternoon ride to Cumbres Pass.
 Afternoon: Our train ride ends at the top of Cumbres Pass pass 10,015 feet elevation and travel by motorcoach to Durango by late afternoon. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad was originally constructed in 1880 as part of the Rio Grande’s San Juan Extension, which served the silver mining district of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. Like all of the Rio Grande at the time, it was built to a gauge of 3 feet between the rails, instead of the more common 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches that became standard in the United States. The inability to interchange cars with other railroads led the Rio Grande to begin converting its tracks to standard gauge in 1890. However, with the repeal of the Sherman Act in 1893 and its devastating effect on the silver mining industry, traffic over the San Juan Extension failed to warrant conversion to standard gauge. Over the ensuing decades it became an isolated relic, receiving its last major upgrades in equipment and infrastructure in the 1920s. A post-World War II natural gas boom brought a brief period of prosperity to the line, but operations dwindled to a trickle in the 1960s. Finally, in 1969, the Interstate Commerce Commission granted the Rio Grande’s request to abandon its remaining narrow gauge main line trackage, thereby ending the last use of steam locomotives in general freight service in the United States. In 1970, the states of Colorado and New Mexico jointly purchased the track and line-side structures from Antonito to Chama, nine steam locomotives, over 130 freight and work cars, and the Chama yard and maintenance facility. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad began hauling tourists the following year.
 Dinner: We dine tonight at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Free for relaxation or enjoy the hotel's swimming pool and spa.
Accommodations: Best Western Inn and Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Morning train ride along the Animas River Canyon on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; Visit town of Silverton; Coach Ride on the "Million Dollar Highway" to Ouray
(Wednesday, July 23)

Note: Walking in railyard up to 1 block; walking 4-5 blocks in Silverton; 3 to 4 steps boarding and unboarding train and motorcoach

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items.
 Morning: Today we again step back in time with our steam train ride from Duramgo to Silverton. Some participnats may choose an optional early morning tour of the roundhouse museum prior to boarding the train for the all morning trip. The City of Durango was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1879. The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881, and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. By July of 1882 (amazingly, only 9 months after construction began), the tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began hauling both freight and passengers. From the very beginning, the railroad was promoted as a scenic route for passenger service, although the line was constructed primarily to haul mine ores, both gold and silver, from the San Juan Mountains. It is estimated that over $300 million in precious metals has been transported over this route This historic train has been in continuous operation for 129 years, carrying passengers behind vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock indigenous to the line.
 Lunch: We disembark from the steam train in the middle of Silverton and walk two blocks to the Grand Imperial Hotel for our catered hot lunch. This historic hotel is the Victorian "Queen" of the quaint mining town.
 Afternoon: Time will be available after lunch to stroll around the historic town of Silverton and then we board our coach for the most spectacular highway journey of our program, the "Million Dollar Highway" to our destination of Ouray. The 25 mile trip follows the old miners trail through the magnificent San Juan Mountains, some of the most rugged and scenic of all Colorado's mountain ranges. Summer will show off late melting snows and beautiful wildflowers, while fall brings on golden stands of Aspen trees.
 Dinner: We dine tonight at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Free to relax after a long but activity packed day.
Accommodations: Ouray Chalet Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: We travel into the San Juan Mountains and Yankee Boy Basin, then visit Ridgeway and its Historic Rail Museum followed by free time in Ouray.
(Thursday, July 24)

Note: Walking and standing in Yankee Boy Basin and the Railroad Museum of up to one block. 2 to 4 steps up and down boarding and unboarding the motorcoach and the 4 wheel drive vehicles.

 Breakfast: We eat breakfast this morning at a local restaurant.
 Morning: We board specially converted 4-wheel drive vehicles for a safe and exciting journey to the beautiful alpine meadows of Yankee Boy Basin. We drive up and along Canyon Creek, under the dramatic cliffs, past the lower Camp Bird mine, through the ghost town of Sneffels, past the Revenue, Atlas and Ruby Trust mines and up to the beautiful Twin Falls surrounded by rugged mountain peaks. Arriving at the Basin we are surround in summer by spectacular wildflowers including the Colorado State Flower, the Blue Columbine! In autumn, the magnificent fall colors of golden aspen and red shrubs await. Along the way we pass the Camp Bird Mine, one of the most famous and highly-productive old gold mines in the San Juan Mountains. It was discovered by Thomas F. Walsh in 1896, and produced about 1.5 million troy ounces of gold, and 4 million troy ounces of silver, from 1896 to 1990. At recent prices, Camp Bird's production would be worth over US$1.5 billion. Walsh's daughter, Evalyn Walsh McLean became famous as an heiress in Washington, DC especially for purchasing the Hope Diamond, now displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.
 Lunch: We board our motorcoach for a short trip to the town of Ridgeway for lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch we visit the Ridgeway Railroad Museum where the exhibits and displays of railroad rolling stock portrays the important role of the railroads in this part of Colorado. Most famous is the museum's collection of "Galloping Goose" rail-motorcars. These unique combination of locomotives and cars were designed and built by adapting gasoline powered autos and trucks into small rail vehicles to serve the mountain communities for passenger, freight, and mail delivery.
 Dinner: We return to Ouray mid-afternoon for free time and dinner on your own to sample the restaurants of Ouray. Many participants optionally choose to visit the excellent Ouray History Museum or take a dip in the famous Hot Springs Swimming Poll.
 Evening: Free to explore the well preserved Victorian Mining Town of Ouray. Ouray was named after a famous Ute Indian Chief. The surrounding mountains are spectacular making this a popular Colorado tourist destination that we are privileged to enjoy.
Accommodations: Ouray Chalet Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: We travel to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, then cross the West Elk Mountains to the Redstone Inn We complete our journey traveling through Glenwood Canyon, the Eisenhower tunnel and Idaho Springs.
(Friday, July 25)

Note: Walking up to 1 block visiting Black Canyon National Park and towns of Redstone and Idaho Springs; 2-3 steps boarding and unboarding the motorcoach.

 Breakfast: We eat breakfast this morning at a local restaurant.
 Morning: We travel after breakfast to one of the nation’s newest National Parks. Embracing 20,766 acres, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park contains 12 miles of the deepest portion of the Gunnison River gorge. Some of earth's oldest base rocks have been cut by the river to a depth of 2,700 feet. The top of the canyon narrows to about 1,100 feet, but down by the river the canyon narrows in places to about 40 feet. Visitors marvel at this natural wonder, a truly amazing sight.
 Lunch: We travel by motorcoach over 8,755 feet McClure Pass stopping to view the magnificent and rugged Elk Mountains, then arrive at our lunch destination of Redstone Inn. Redstone was established in the late 19th century industrialist John Cleveland Osgood as part of a coal mining enterprise. Osgood's coal empire also spurred construction of the Crystal River Railroad and Redstone's historic dwellings. As an experiment in "enlightened industrial paternalism," Osgood constructed 84 cottages and a 40-room inn, all with indoor plumbing and electricity, for his coal miners and cokers, as well as modern bathhouse facilities, a club house with a library and a theatre, and a school. Most of these Craftsman-era Swiss-style cottages are still used as homes.
 Afternoon: We begin our motorcoach journey back to Denver passing the town of Glenwood Springs and entering the amazing Glenwood Canyon, a scenic byway with a uniquely engineered section of Interstate 70. We pass the ski resorts of Beaver Creek, Vail, Copper Mountain, and Loveland along the route. We also pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel. With a maximum elevation of 11,158 ft above sea level, it is one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world. The tunnel is the longest mountain tunnel and highest point on the Interstate Highway system. Completed in 1979, it was one of the last major pieces of the Interstate Highway system to be completed.
 Dinner: We return by Motorcoach to Denver. Dinner this evening is catered by the Hotel
 Evening: Evening free for packing and reflection on a busy week!
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Independent Departures after Breakfast
(Saturday, July 26)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items.
 Morning: Independent departures after breakfast, hotel check-out time is 10 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Colorado Railroad Map

Author: Robert W. Richardson Library

Description: Covers all known Colorado railroads both operating and abandoned. On the back are eight smaller historical maps. Probably the single most useful item you can have on our program. Shown are the railroads we visit. Our motor coach is also routed to follow other operating and abandoned grades where possible.

Colorado's Colorful Characters

Author: Gladys R. Bueler

Description: Outstanding illustrated narrative history of the men and women that shaped Colorado. Starting with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, interwoven are the stories of the explorers, mountain men, Native Americans, settlers, miners, railroad builders and industrialists. Included are the two major railroad builders we discuss, General William Jackson Palmer (Denver & Rio Grande) and Otto Mears (tollroads and four small narrow gauge).

The Georgetown Loop- A Capsule History and Guide

Author: State Historical Society of Colorado

Description: A wonderful illustrated history published by the Colorado Historical Society, the owner of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park. Excellent coverage of gold and silver mining development, early Colorado railroad history, the building of the narrow gauge Colorado Central Railroad (later the Colorado & Southern) up Clear Creek, the Loop completed in 1884, and the mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume. Also covered is the development of the Historic Mining and Railroad Park in the 1970s and 1980s.

All Aboard For America's Mountain

Author: Claude Wiatrowski

Description: The Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway - the famous "Cog Wheel Route"! We climb to the top of 14,110 foot Pikes Peak on grades up to 25%. This is the official history and guidebook to the railway first opened in 1891. Lots of color as well as historic photos.

Ticket To Toltec: A Mile By Mile Guide for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Author: Doris B. Osterwald

Description: Everything you would ever want to know about the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS). Includes the geology and geography of the area, detailed Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) history, flora and fauna, operations and equipment, and a detailed mile-by-mile guide and maps of our route. Many historic and modern photos with a few in color. The definitive reference guide that satisfies rail fans and tourists alike.

Cinders and Smoke: A Mile by Mile Guide for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Author: Doris B. Osterwald

Description: By the same author as Ticket to Toltec. Ditto all the above, only about the Durango and Silverton (D&S) Narrow Gauge Railroad, another Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) successor. Also includes brief histories of the two towns that the D&RG reached in 1881 and 1882. Highly recommended. This book is available at the Colorado Railroad Museum and at shops in Durango and Silverton. It is not available at the D&S gift shop or on the train.

Tomboy Bride: A Woman's Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West

Author: Harriet Fish Backus

Description: Just after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, twenty-year-old Harriett Fish took the train from Oakland to Denver to marry her fiancé George Backus. After the wedding, they journeyed by narrow gauge train to Telluride high in the San Juan Mountains. George was an assayer for the Tomboy, a silver and gold mine at timberline over 11,000 feet high. This is just over the ridge from the Yankee Boy Basin mining area we visit on our four-wheel drive trip. Author Harriett Fish Backus, describes their life in vivid detail. Over half the book covers their years at the Tomboy; also covered are their mining and milling experiences in British Columbia, Idaho, and back to Colorado. At the beginning of World War I, George pioneered the process still used today to concentrate molybdenum, a metal used to strengthen steel. This is the best book that covers everyday life in the mining camps of the West.

Rails Thru the Royal Gorge

Author: Doris B. Osterwald

Description: The most spectacular scenic attraction in the West! Covered are 130 years of history about the world’s deepest gorge with a railroad, built in 1879, running through the bottom. Also includes a complete biography of Wm. Jackson Palmer, the story of the Denver and Rio Grande – Santa Fe ‘Royal Gorge War’, and the development of the new Royal Gorge Railway we ride through the bottom of the gorge. The Suspension Bridge, built in 1929, hovers 1,000 feet above the train we ride along the Arkansas River. The book includes over 200 B&W & color photos, detailed maps, charts and geological information.

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