LivingTravelHow to Ride the Royal Gorge Route Railway

How to Ride the Royal Gorge Route Railway

Explore Colorado the way miners used to – traveling by train through the beautiful mountains. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad has been transporting passengers through the impressive Royal Gorge canyon along the Arkansas River since 1879. It travels along the Western Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.

This is the most famous scenic railroad in Colorado and a favorite attraction in the Colorado Springs area. Trains magazine named this one of the best trains in America.

Beyond the sights (which are enough, in themselves, to add this trip to your travel wish list), the train offers fun themed food and attractions, such as a Saturday murder mystery train, twilight trains, and a train. Santa Express in the winter. There are other special events, such as an Oktoberfest celebration and a Mother’s Day brunch.

The independent, family-owned and operated Royal Gorge train was the first in Colorado to offer first-class gourmet dining and first-rate service. We are not talking about a simple cart that offers a snack. This train has five different kitchens and four bars. It has the only full-service train ride in the state.

This ride is not a theme park and there are no carnival rides (although there is an amusement park in the Royal Gorge). This train ride is about preserving the canyon and a part of Colorado history.

Where to take the train

Take the Royal Gorge Route Railroad every day in Canon City, Colorado at the Santa Fe Depot, one block south of Highway 50 and Third Street. Canon City is about 45 minutes from Colorado Springs and two hours from Denver.

The train runs from March to December.

Where the train goes

The train drives along the canyon, over the incredible 1,000+ foot cliffs of the Royal Gorge. The total duration of the tour is 24 miles round trip. Scenic walks last two hours. In the afternoon at 6:30 pm the rides last two and a half hours. Passengers travel from Canon City to Parkdale, Colorado, under the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge.

What you can see from the train

The suspension bridge is the highlight on this trip. The bridge that still works (yes, you can cross it during certain times of the day and season), built in 1879, is impressive. It perches 955 feet above the ground. It is the highest bridge in the country and one of the 20 tallest bridges in the world. In fact, it used to be the tallest bridge in the world, until it lost the honor of a bridge in China.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as bald eagles and bighorn sheep.

About the Royal Gorge Canyon

The Royal Gorge is called the “Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River.” Visit the Royal Gorge if you like stunning views (and if you are not afraid of heights). This 360-acre amusement park is built around the gorge, on both sides of the crazy suspension bridge. If you want to explore the gorge further after your train ride, you can see it on aerial gondola rides or enjoy a ‘roller coaster’ or zip line.

How much is it

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers six different classes, all with different prices.

  • Coach Class – This is the cheapest option, at $ 49 for an adult and $ 44 per child (ages 3-12). Children under 3 years of age travel free on an adult’s lap. The coach still has great views through large windows, and you can order food.
  • Club : The club class is $ 10 more per passenger ($ 59 per adult, $ 54 per child), but you get a table and access to a bar. Of course, there is food available.
  • Domes View – Choose this for the best views. Vista Dome passengers sit in comfortable cabins. Tickets are $ 74 per adult and $ 69 per child.
  • First Class Lunch Train – First Class Car includes a three course lunch with wine. The dates vary throughout the year. Tickets are $ 114 per person and the minimum age is 8. Imagine the coolest restaurant in Colorado, serving locally inspired and sourced food, on wheels.
  • First-Class Dome Dinner : Get first-class service in the dome with a three-course dinner. Dates and days of the week vary. Tickets are $ 124 per person and again, the minimum age is 8 years old.
  • Locomotive Seat – You can ride the real locomotive alongside an engineer. There are only two of these seats on each trip (and they fill up quickly). Tickets are $ 150 each. The minimum age is 13 years, if accompanied by an adult. The second ticket in a pair is $ 100.
  • Santa’s Train: Santa’s Winter Train still offers coach, club, and dome, but tickets are a bit cheaper. For example, Santa Train coach seats are $ 44 per adult and $ 39 per child. Prices go up with different classes, up to $ 69 per adult and $ 64 per child for the Vista Dome. On Santa’s train, passengers receive free cookies and hot chocolate.

Tips for the train

Do you want to try a local beer? You can find a good selection here.

If you are on a budget, book the cheapest ticket and spend time in the car in the open air, which is accessible to everyone, regardless of class. Make sure to bring a jacket because it can get cold in the winter. In summer, the sun can be aggressive, so put on sunscreen.

Book early so you can get a window seat overlooking the river (best seats in the car).

The history of the railway

The Royal Gorge Railway has an interesting history that begins with the mining of silver in the 19th century. Railroads during that time were built to accommodate increased mining activity in the Colorado mountains.

It was no easy task to figure out how to build a railroad through the canyon, with its steep granite cliffs.

After the mining was finished, the railway was revived as a scenic passenger train. Today, more than 100,000 people experience it each year. The railway has been restored but retains its mid-century style. You can also venture out in an open-air car for fresh air and 360-degree views.

As for the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, it was built in 1929 for $ 350,000. Today, it’s a $ 25 million engineering marvel.

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