Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Goes Where No Road Goes — Sit Back, Enjoy the Gentle Rolling of the Rail Cars and Leave the Driving to Us as You Steam through Mountainsides of Aspens…
One of the most enjoyable ways to the see the brilliant fall colors of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico is to avoid all the traffic on highways and instead ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSRR).
Voted three times by the readers of USA Today as the “best scenic train ride in America,” the C&TSRR is also the highest, longest and most authentic steam railroad on the continent. This National Historic Landmark is a museum on wheels, owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico to preserve travel by historic coal-fired steam locomotives just the way it was when the railroad was built in 1880.
And as a bonus in the fall, the C&TSRR steams through tens of thousands of colorful aspen trees, chugging at a top speed of 12 mph, twisting and turning through Rocky Mountain wilderness. Passengers can ride outdoors in a gondola car, in classic coach cars, or in a luxurious parlo r car – just like the railroad presidents of yore.
All trains have restrooms and a bar and snack car, and all full day rides include a delicious hot lunch of roast turkey, meatloaf or salad bar at scenic Osier Station. Trains zig-zag between Colorado and New Mexico border, steaming through tunnels and over high trestles, along the edge of deep canyons and up to the summit of Cumbres Pass, 10,015 feet above sea level. Along the way, passengers can see deer, elk, antelope, and even an occasional bear.
And aspens! The railroad passes through thousands of colorful trees. Come and experience the GOLD RUSH!
Riding the Rails in 2021 with Five Exciting Ticket Options
Currently trains depart from either Chama or Antonito six days a week, but beginning Sept. 13, 2021, departures are scheduled seven days a week. RESERVATIONS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Trains do sell out, so don’t be disappointed.
Antonito All Aboard! Sept. 13-Oct. 24, 2021, Seven Days a Week. Steam out of Antonito, CO at 10 a.m. and chug across the high plains of San Luis Valley, slowly climbing up into the Rockies over Hangman’s Bridge, Whiplash Curve and Lava Loop, with views in all directions. You’ll steam through two tunnels, around Phantom Curve with its unusual rock formations, and along the lip of Toltec Gorge, 600 feet above the roaring Rio de Los Pinos below. After a delicious lunch at Osier Station, you will return down the mountain to your car in Antonito, arriving at 4:40 p.m.
Chama All Aboard! Sept. 13-Oct. 24, 2021, Every day except Friday. As you steam out of the station in Chama, NM, at 10 a.m. expect to hear the whistle blow as you cross the Chama River and then later the Lobato Trestle and begin the high, steep climb to Cumbres Pass. The locomotive will be working extra hard and blowing clouds of steam as you navigate the tough curve around Windy Point before arriving at the summit of the 10,015-foot high pass. Bring a jacket! Here the train stops to take on passengers (see Cumbres Express option) and then steams around Tanglefoot Curve and across Cascade Trestle, the highest bridge on the railroad at 137 thrilling feet, before arriving at Osier for lunch. Trains return to your car in Chama arriving back at 4:05 p.m.
Cumbres Express, Sep. 13-Oct. 24, 2021, Every day Except Friday. For those with less time, this is the perfect way to experience the thrill of steam railroading on a shorter schedule. Passengers board the train at 11:10 am at the top of Cumbres Pass, steam through aspens around Tanglefoot Curve and Cascade Trestle, enjoy a full lunch at Osier Station, and return to their car at Cumbres Pass at 2:45 p.m.
Chama High Noon, Sept. 17 & 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, & 22. Fridays Only.
For people on a very tight schedule, this two-and-a-half-hour ride leaves Chama at High Noon on Fridays, climbs to the top of Cumbres Pass – the highest point reached by any steam train in America, and then returns to your car in Chama by 2:30 p.m. Lunch is not included on this short excursion, but there is a snack car on board.
The San Juan and New Mexico Express, Sept. 19 and Oct. 24, 2021 only. For steam train buffs around the world, this is an unprecedented railroading bucket list ride. In 2021, for the first time ever, historic 1883 steam locomotive No. 168 is pulling a train of all authentic 19th century Denver & Rio Grande cars on the exact same tracks across the Rocky Mountains that it originally did from 1883-1938. What is truly remarkable is that engine No. 168 sat outside in Antlers Park, Colorado Springs for 75 years! The engine was exposed to the elements of snow, hail and rain. It has been restored to its original 1883 brilliant appearance and is one of only two locomotives of its class left in the world. These special excursions from Antonito are very limited in seating and They will sell out quickly so make reservations! The full day excursion leaves Antonito at 10 am, includes lunch at Osier Station and returns to Antonito at 4:40 p.m.
Fall in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico
There are more than two million acres of aspen trees in Colorado and New Mexico — one billion trees that if placed together would cover Rhode Island and Delaware. Aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains grow from 6,500 to 10,500 feet in elevation. Their cousins in the popular tree family, cottonwoods, grow in the Rockies to 6,500 feet and are just as colorful. Although many factors make leaves turn color, in general, the higher the elevation, the sooner the leaves turn gold. That means that over a period of time, you can often see a variety of shades of color on one mountainside, with deeper golds on top at 10,000 feet, blending to pale yellow in the 8,000 foot range. Since the Cumbres & Toltec runs from Chama elevation 7,863 and Antonito elevation 7,888 feet to 10,015 feet at the top of Cumbres Pass, you can expect to see pretty fall aspens all along the route.
Where To Stay While Riding the Cumbres & Toltec
Both Chama NM and Antonito CO have hotels and bed & breakfasts. Alamosa, Colorado is 30 minutes by car from the Antonito, Colorado station. The resort town of Taos, New Mexico is one hour by car from the Antonito, CO station. The delightful resort area of Pagosa Springs, Colorado is just 45 minutes from the Chama, NM station. Colorful aspens and cottonwoods can be seen at all three locations and on the drive to the stations.
BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT
Fall rides are extremely popular and do sell out, so book early to avoid disappointment at www.cumbrestoltec.com