Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Written by on March 22, 2015 in CO Attractions - Comments Off on Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

What better way to experience the majesty and grandeur of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado than by narrow gauge railroad! The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad line runs between the old mining towns of Durango and Silverton, Colorado.

The tracks run along the steep sides of a mountain high above the Animas River. Railroad tracks are normally 4 feet 8 1/2 inches wide, but because the engineers had so little room to build, the Durango-Silverton rails are only three feet apart. Little black engines, the same used when the railroad was in operation hauling ore and supplies, pull closed or open air wooden coaches up the steep grades.

The 4-hour trip offers a breath-taking look at the pristine wilderness of the San Juan Mountains.

The view alone is worth the ride. Huge mountain peaks soar above the slowly moving cars, while the canyon carved by the Animas River drops into the depths just a few feet from the train. Trestle bridges rattle beneath the wheels as you span huge sections of canyon. Mountain goats and sheep are not uncommon sights, as well as a wide variety of birds and small mammals.

The locomotives used to pull the trains today are 100% coal-fired and steam-operated. The locomotives are 1923-25 vintage and are maintained in original condition. The coaches each feature bathroom facilities and are heated during the winter months for passenger comfort. Open gondola cars provide a panoramic view of the mountains. Concessions are available on every train. The Durango & Silverton Railroad offers standard, deluxe, first class and presidential level service.

Places to Stay

While you can make a round trip in one day, the best way to really enjoy the Durango & Silverton Railroad is to ride the railroad one-way to either town and spend the night, then make the return trip the next day. Both Durango and Silverton offer plenty of places to stay. Silverton in particular has several historic bed and breakfasts, hotels and inns that were original to the mining town, including the Teller House Hotel, The Wyman Hotel, and Silverton’s Inn of the Rockies at the Historic Alma House. The General Palmer Hotel, Leland House & Rochester Hotel and the Strater Hotel are all historic locations in downtown Durango that preserve the feel of the Old West.

About Silverton and Durango

In 1860, Charles Baker and several prospectors entered the San Juan Mountains in search of wealth. They soon found deposits of gold and silver along the Animas River, in an area that was later called “Baker’s Park”. The town of Silverton was established in 1874 and soon became the center of dozens of mining sites. The Town of Durango, Colorado, was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1879 to ship the tons of gold and silver ore out of the area. 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, the tracks to Silverton were completed, and the train began hauling both freight and passengers.

Both towns offer plenty of shopping, dining and entertaining experiences with the feel of the Old West. For instance, you might try dining at Natalia’s 1912 Restaurant — a family owned operation housed in what used to be one of Silverton’s oldest bordellos. Enjoy the great western stage show and barbecue supper at the Bar D Chuckwagon in Durango. Both locations offer extensive shopping experience with artwork and home goods that reflect the heritage of the area. Adventure packages are available that include white water rafting, hiking, four-wheel trips, mountain biking, camping, historic tours and more.

Other attractions in the area:
Top 5 Things To Do In Durango, Colorado
Aztez Ruins National Monument
Colorado Fruit and Wine Country
Mesa Verde National Park

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
479 Main Ave.
Durango, CO 81301
Reservations: 970-247-2733
General Information: 970-247-2733
Toll-Free: 877-872-4607

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