Road Scholar : Home
Ride Colorado's Historic Railroads

Program Number: 4345RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/12/2015 - 6/20/2015; 7/17/2015 - 7/25/2015; 9/13/2015 - 9/21/2015; 9/20/2015 - 9/28/2015; 9/27/2015 - 10/5/2015;
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.




Highlights

• 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.



Ouray

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.



Alamosa

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.



Denver

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.



Accommodations
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.
 
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 Road Scholar Health & Safety 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)
Transportation
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

 
 

Service:

 

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

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi

 

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: Arrival and Check-in / Program Registration / Orientation / Welcome Dinner / Opening Presentation
(Friday, June 12)

Note: Note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.



   
 Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Orientation: 4:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have.

As a special feature of this program, we will be accompanied throughout by a Colorado history and railroad expert who will serve as our resident instructor, provide commentary en route, and lead field trips. Travel and transfers other than railroad field trips will be by comfortable motorcoach.

Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own.
 Dinner: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a plated meal catered by the hotel with salad, entrée, and choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: Our resident Colorado Railroad expert's introductory lecture this evening will begin the fascinating journey of discovery for the amazing rail adventures ahead. Our expert accompanies the entire program and will vividly describe along the route, often in the motorcoach the fascinating history of Colorado and the impacts railroads made on the settlement of the state.
   
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Colorado Railroad Museum / Georgetown Loop Narrow Gauge Railroad / Transfer to Colorado Springs
(Saturday, June 13)

Note: Note: Hotel check out after breakfast, bring luggage to coach. Walking/standing at Railroad Museum. Walking up to 4 blocks around Georgetown, mostly level streets, sidewalks. Boarding/de-boarding motorcoach with 3 steps and antique rail coaches. Elevations up to 8,530 feet.



   
 Breakfast: In the hotel, the hot and cold breakfast buffet includes egg dishes prepared to order, juices, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: We board our motorcoach for a field trip to the Colorado Railroad Museum in the town of Golden, a former important mill town at the foot of the Rockies. Most participants prefer to easily self-guide this museum, but our resident expert will accompany those who want more information in exploring key areas of 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.

Next, we’ll transfer to the well preserved Victorian mining town of Georgetown, nestled in the mountains at an elevation of 8,530 feet (2,600 meters).
 Lunch: At a restaurant in Georgetown, we’ll order off the menu, soft drinks and water included.
 Afternoon: Take a few minutes after lunch to walk around and view the historic downtown surrounded by the rugged mountains. We’ll then take our first historic railway field trip aboard 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. 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.
 Dinner: In Colorado Springs.
 Evening: At leisure. Time to relax after an activity packed day.
   
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Cog Railway to Pikes Peak Summit / Garden of the Gods Park / Glen Eyrie Estate / Broadmoor Hotel
(Sunday, June 14)

Note: Note: Walking up to 4 blocks during field trips; 3-4 steps boarding/de-boarding train.



   
 Breakfast: In the hotel, the hot and cold breakfast buffet includes egg dishes prepared to order, juices, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and head to Manitou Springs for a field trip riding the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak Summit, where Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write her famous poem, “America the Beautiful.” The Pikes Peak Cog railroad uses a “cog wheel” gear meshing into a special rack rail mounted between the outer rails, which allow climbing much steeper grades than a standard adhesion railroad. The first passenger train made it to the summit on June 30, 1891. A lively narration from the conductor will inform participants about the scenery and history.

After our thrilling railway ride, we travel by coach to the Garden of the Gods Park with its magnificent red sandstone setting.
 Lunch: Looking up at Pikes Peak where we have just been, we’ll have lunch including prepared cold sandwiches, salad choices, dessert, lemonade or iced tea and water included at the park Visitor Center.
 Afternoon: We continue with viewing stops off the coach through the Garden of the Gods, so named by a surveyor in 1859 who said it was a fit place for the Gods to assemble. Now a registered National Natural Landmark, there are dramatic views of towering 300' sandstone rock formations in the foreground and Pikes Peak in the background.

Our next stop is the Glen Eyrie estate, popularly known as the Castle. It 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. The original frame house was enlarged and remodeled in 1881 to resemble a Tudor-style castle. Today, it is a religious retreat and conference center owned and operated by The Navigators. With a local guide and our resident expert we’ll explore the beautiful castle and grounds.

Our last stop of the day is the world renowned Broadmoor Hotel. Businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Spencer Penrose built the Broadmoor in 1918 with the goal of making it the finest hotel in the U.S. It was certainly grand for its day: designed by the same architects who created the Ritz-Carlton and Biltmore hotels; with thousands of surrounding acres landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame; and filled with artwork from Europe and the Far East. It even had a shooting school run by Annie Oakley! Many visitors came for the clean mountain air, thought to provide relief from tuberculosis and other maladies, and stayed for the exceptional hospitality. The Broadmoor is now a member of Historic Hotels of America of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We’ll enjoy a stroll around this historic structure and beautiful grounds.
 Dinner: In Colorado Springs.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Transfer to Canon City / Royal Gorge Railroad / Transfer to LaVeta / Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s Excursion Train to Alamosa
(Monday, June 15)

Note: Note: Hotel check out after breakfast, bring luggage to coach. Walking up to 4 blocks during field trips; 3-4 steps boarding/de-boarding trains and coach. Elevations up to 7,543 feet.



   
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Boarding our motorcoach, we depart for the 40 or so minute drive to Canon City. Our resident expert will brief us along the way about the history and sights to come. Then we climb aboard one of Colorado's most scenic trains for a 24-mile journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad was established in 1879, making it Colorado’s oldest scenic railroad as well as one of the most exhilarating rides. Learn about its dramatic, complex, sometimes violent history as we traverse tracks that follow the Arkansas River amid 1,000-foot granite cliffs. A unique feature is the suspension bridge devised to transit the narrowest point in the gorge.

We’ll then return to Canon City and board our motorcoach to LaVeta.
 Lunch: Aboard the motorcoach, we’ll have box lunches with sandwiches, fruit, chips, dessert, and bottled water.
 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: At the hotel, enjoy a catered, plated meal with salad, entrée, choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure. You might like to have a swim in the heated indoor pool, try the sauna, or simply relax.
   
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express Alamosa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Cumbres and Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad Field Trip / Transfer to Durango
(Tuesday, June 16)

Note: Note: Hotel check out after breakfast, bring luggage to coach. Walking up to 1 block at lunch stop; 3-4 steps boarding/de-boarding train and motorcoach. Elevations up to 10,015 feet.



   
 Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold items, juices, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: We depart from Alamosa via motorcoach for a scenic drive along the San Luis Valley to the tiny town of Antonito, where we board the Cumbres and Toltec Historic Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Step back in time as the steam engines starts their winding journeys to the top of Cumbres Pass. The line was constructed in 1880 as an extension of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, but its gauge of only 3 feet between the rails — rather than what would soon become the standard of just under 5 feet — made it an anachronism almost from the start. Nevertheless, it operated off and on until the 1960s, and was on the verge of being completely abandoned and dismantled until a group of enthusiastic railroad enthusiasts persuaded the states of Colorado and New Mexico to purchase the most scenic stretch of the line. Congress authorized an interstate agency to operate it in 1974, while a non-profit organization preserves these assets for the public as a living history museum that interprets railroad history and heritage.

The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad’s equipment and structures, and the vast landscape of the Colorado and New Mexico border, exist today as they were generations ago. During our ride, participants will have assigned seats but may wander to the open observation car, and snack bar where food and drink items are available for purchase. Our resident expert will accompany the group and strategically locate himself in an announced location for narration and to answer questions.
 Lunch: Arriving at Osier Station, the extensive lunch buffet offers multiple tasty entrées — all made from scratch in the Osier kitchen — plus a large salad bar, dessert bar, and choice of beverage.
 Afternoon: We’ll change trains and continue our journey to Cumbres Pass. Our train ride ends at the top of Cumbres Pass (10,015' elevation) where we disembark and transfer by our motorcoach to Durango, arriving late afternoon.
 Dinner: At a restaurant in Durango, enjoy a plated meal with salad, choice of entrée, and beverage choices including soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Best Western Inn and Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad / Silverton / “Million Dollar Highway” to Ouray
(Wednesday, June 17)

Note: Note: Hotel check out after breakfast, bring luggage to coach. Walking in rail yard up to 1 block; walking 4-5 blocks in Silverton; 3-4 steps boarding and de-boarding train and motorcoach. Elevations up to 9,305 feet.



   
 Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold items, juices, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: We board our motor coach for the short transfer to the train station. [Some participants may choose an optional early morning visit to the roundhouse museum prior to boarding the train for the all morning trip. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been in continuous operation since 1882, taking passengers and mine ores from Durango (6,512' altitude) to Silverton (9,305' altitude). In addition to federally designated National Historic Landmark status, the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized it as an historic civil engineering landmark. It has also been named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the Top Ten North American Train Trips. We will have the same kind of experience as passengers of old, boarding at the original 1882 depot and riding rolling stock original to the line pulled by a vintage steam locomotive. The leisurely pace of about 18 miles an hour provides wonderful opportunities to appreciate the spectacular scenery experienced by Native Americans, settlers, cowboys, and miners. Participants will have ticketed assigned seats. The conductor gives narration along the route and our resident expert will circulate to our seats for commentary and to answer questions.

We disembark in Silverton.
 Lunch: We walk 2 blocks for a catered hot lunch with salad, choice of entrée, and choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, and water at the historic Grand Imperial Hotel (1882), the Victorian “queen” of this quaint mining town.
 Afternoon: There will be some time after lunch to stroll around on your own. Silverton lies in the heart of southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountain's high country, home to about 600 year-round residents. Its cultural heritage is intertwined with Old West mining history.

We then board our motorcoach for the most spectacular highway journey of our program, the “Million Dollar Highway” (U.S. Route 550) to Ouray. Built in the 1930s, the 25-mile stretch follows the old miners’ trail through the magnificent San Juan Mountains, some of the most rugged and scenic of all Colorado's mountain ranges. The highway cuts through steep cliffs in several places with hairpin turns that might give you a few butterflies, but the reward in awesome views makes it well worthwhile. Late melting snows encourage Summer wildflowers, while stands of Aspen trees turn golden in the Fall.

We check into our hotel in late afternoon.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated meal with salad, choice of entrée, and choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Ouray Chalet Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Yankee Boy Basin Field Trip / Ridgeway Railroad Museum
(Thursday, June 18)

Note: Note: Walking/standing in Yankee Boy Basin and Railroad Museum; 2-4 steps getting on/off the motorcoach and 4-wheel-drive vehicles.



   
 Breakfast: At a local restaurant where we order off the menu. Juices, coffee, tea, water included.
 Morning: Ouray is sometimes called the Switzerland of America for its alpine landscape surrounded by mountains. Among the many natural wonders is Uncompahgre National Forest, covering more than 950,000 acres, and Yankee Boy Basin within the forest. We will 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 surrounded in Summer by fabulous 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 in 1896 by Irish immigrant Thomas F. Walsh, who became one of the richest men in America and — highly unusual for his time — a progressive advocate for laborers. As a result, Camp Bird Mine did not experience the violent strikes at many western mines of the era.

We’ll then hop board our motorcoach for a short ride to the town of Ridgeway.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant, lunch includes salad, choice of entrée, and choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water.
 Afternoon: Next, ride our coach or walk the short distance to the Ridgway Railroad Museum, dedicated to preserving Colorado railroad history with a focus on restoration, education, and research. Our resident expert will lead our walk although some may choose to self-guide the collection. The museum includes railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books, and photographs of Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains, plus exhibits and displays of railroad rolling stock. Most famous is the museum's collection of "Galloping Goose" rail-motorcars — a unique combination of locomotives and cars designed and built by adapting gasoline powered autos and trucks into small rail vehicles.

Returning to Ouray, the remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy on your own. Our resident expert will give recommendations about local historic sites and museum.
 Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Evening: At leisure. Ouray, named for the most famous chief of the Utes, has much to offer for a small mining town. About 2/3 of the original Victorian structures are still occupied and have been restored. You might like to visit the Ouray County Museum, housed in the original St. Joseph Miners’ Hospital. Or, take a dip in the famous, sulfur-free Hot Springs Pool (open until 10:00 p.m.).
   
Accommodations: Ouray Chalet Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: 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, June 19)

Note: Note: Hotel check out after breakfast, bring luggage to coach. Walking up to 1 block in Black Canyon, Redstone, Idaho Springs; 2-3 steps boarding and de-boarding motorcoach. Elevations up to 11,158 feet.



   
 Breakfast: At a local restaurant, we order off the menu with juices, coffee, tea, water included.
 Morning: We board the motorcoach for the drive to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, one of the nation’s newest national parks and one of the oldest geological features. The Gunnison River carved Black Canyon gorge out of rock over a period of 2 million years. Today we see nearly vertical canyon walls plunging to a depth of more than 2,000' with some of the most rugged spires in North America. In all of recorded history, there is no evidence of human habitation anywhere except at the rim. We stop and walk to scenic overlooks where a local expert will discuss the geology and history of the amazing canyon.

Our next stop is at the summit of McClure Pass (8,755') to view the magnificent and rugged Elk Mountains.
 Lunch: We continue to our lunch destination, Redstone Inn with choice of entrée, salad, and choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included The tiny town of Redstone was created by John Cleveland Osgood, one of the 19th century’s richest “robber barons.” Completed in 1902, it was intended to be a utopian community for workers connected to Osgood’s coal mining enterprise.
 Afternoon: The final leg of our journey back to Denver via motorcoach takes by way of 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 drive through the Eisenhower Tunnel. With a maximum elevation of 11,158' 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. We arrive late afternoon at our hotel.
 Dinner: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a meal catered by the hotel with plated table service including salad, entrée, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. We reflect on our journey with closing comments.
 Evening: At leisure. Say farewell to new Road Scholar friends and prepare for departure in the morning.
   
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn - DIA
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Program Concludes
(Saturday, June 20)

Note: Note: Hotel check out is by 10:00 a.m.



   
 Breakfast: In the hotel, the hot and cold breakfast buffet includes egg dishes prepared to order, juices, coffee, tea, water.This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and we look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!
   
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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