Quantcast

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,314
Location
UK / France
Moderators, please move this if inappropriate for this section.

We are not usually customers of private or tourist rail, it's just not our thing. We prefer long distance commuter train journeys and would include all of the LD Amtrak trains in that. We may be passing close to Durango and if the Silverton ride is a trip of a lifetime it would be silly not to take the opportunity of riding such a famous rail line.

Is it worth the cost and spending a whole day at this?

Thanks
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,393
Location
Palm Beach County
I don’t know if I would go so far as calling it “a trip of a lifetime”, but... if you are passing close to Durango, admire beautiful scenery, as well as historic steam powered railroading, it doesn’t get much better than the Silverton train...😎
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,712
Location
Austin Texas
Moderators, please move this if inappropriate for this section.

We are not usually customers of private or tourist rail, it's just not our thing. We prefer long distance commuter train journeys and would include all of the LD Amtrak trains in that. We may be passing close to Durango and if the Silverton ride is a trip of a lifetime it would be silly not to take the opportunity of riding such a famous rail line.

Is it worth the cost and spending a whole day at this?

Thanks
It's a nice trip Jamie, also check out the Cumbres and Toltec RR which runs between Northern New Mexico and Southetn Colorado.

I enjoyed it more than the Durango Trip, but if yall have time, why not do Both! 🥰( I have a High School Friend that works on the C&T so got to ride Free!🥰)
 
Last edited:

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,364
We've been on a lot of tourist railroads and the two best in the country are the Silverton and Durango and the Cumbres & Toltec. They are both worth the day each. We took the C&T once and the D&S about half a dozen times (mostly before the C&T was open to the public.

Personally, I think the D&S has the better scenery as it goes along the edge of a steep canyon with the river well below at times and near the same level at others. Silverton is a fun stop (well - was before Covid) as it is only a few blocks in any direction before you hit the base of the mountains but full of historic buildings. The D& S is privately owned. I'd take the morning train out and the bus back (if they are still doing that) as it's the same albeit spectacular scenery on both trains. You'll save time at the end of the day by returning by the earlier-arriving bus.

The C&T is owned by the states of Colorado and NM and, while not as spectacular in scenery, is equal in enjoyment and is, nonetheless, also spectacular. They (used to) give you an excellent sit-down turkey lunch at a stop halfway there and the opportunity to see some track a few rail miles away, yet only a few hundred feet from where you are as well as the ability to have your own seat but are able to go to the open-air car to take pictures, makes it well worth the trip.

You will not regret either one of the trips. They are both NOT TO BE MISSED whether you are a railfan or just a tourist.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,314
Location
UK / France
Just taking a break as it's raining and first thanks everyone, usual superb information from this forum.

Working out approximate routes makes the Durango-Silverton train easier to access as we would pass through the town anyway. For the Chama- Antonito C&T we would have to detour.
 
Last edited:

Maglev

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
979
Location
Orcas Island, Washington
For me, the Durango and Silverton was indeed the trip of a lifetime. To spend a beautiful day riding a steam-powered train in some of the most dramatic scenery on earth would be memorable for anyone. We upgraded to the parlor car on the end of the train, and were able to sip champagne on the open rear platform.

Durango is a fun town, with lots of Rocky Mountain charm, and in itself is well worth a visit. Which I did: I lived in Hawaii when we rode the D&S train, and we returned to Durango a few years later to visit friends.
 

Maglev

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
979
Location
Orcas Island, Washington
I found some photos of the Durango and Silverton. It was part of a fantastic excursion around the Four Corners area in 1990. We also stayed at Mesa Verde National Park, rode the Grand Canyon Railroad, and rode horses into Havasu Canyon. My wife was a big fan of Zane Grey, and we visited his Arizona cabin two weeks before it burned down.IMG_8132.jpegIMG_8133.jpeg
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,715
Location
Texas
When I was a little boy the promotional brochures showed tracks next to steep cliffs that looked kind of scary but when we rode the actual train it was exhilarating to look out and see canyons below you. I remember looking over a cliff edge and seeing a busy river and wondering how they managed to build it like that. Not that long ago I saw a photo that seemed to show fences installed along some of the tracks and hope that's not really the case. The original experience was great but it wouldn't be the same with Darwin nets cluttering up the view.
 
Last edited:

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,314
Location
UK / France
Looks like the D-S is a must do now, so many here have happy memories.

With a little research found a campground (United Campgrounds) just north of the town, it's on the Durango trolley route. What's amazing is the railway runs right through the campground, how fabulous.

Much of what was written above strikes a cord with us for our next US journey, to visit many National and State parks as well as natural wonders of America. We have tended recently to travel city to city, town to town, now it's our chance at America the beautiful and this fits in just so well as it includes a train as a bonus.

Thanks
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,971
Location
NYC/Queens
Last time I went from Denver to COS I finally had the time to hit the cog railway up Pikes Peak. Sadly, it had closed for a total rebuild. Work is underway, maybe ready for next year. Some interesting material on line at the Broadmoor website (they own it)
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,712
Location
Austin Texas
Last time I went from Denver to COS I finally had the time to hit the cog railway up Pikes Peak. Sadly, it had closed for a total rebuild. Work is underway, maybe ready for next year. Some interesting material on line at the Broadmoor website (they own it)
This is a great ride, as is Driving to the top! Not for those with a fear of heights!!!
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,971
Location
NYC/Queens
There are a number of great scenic or special short runs, but there sure aren't too many cog rr in the US. Not sure if Mt Washington is the only other one in the US.
New snowblower from Zaugg, new train cars from Stadler in Switzerland....almost a complete rebuild/replace....
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
569
Location
Denver
One of my neighbors in Denver was a steam AND narrow-gauge fan. He loved the Silverton train and couldn't understand why I hadn't gotten around to riding it (I was too busy with electric traction on a standard-gauge light rail system). His dream was to work as a fireman on the D&S when he retired from the telephone company. A progressive nerve disease ended that dream. When he was dying he asked to have his ashes spread along the right-of-way at a specific point where there were mountain views in all directions. And as a sidelight he asked that I do the Bible reading. Now I HAD to get out there and my neighbor was right. It was a memorable trip.

I apologize to those who've heard this story before but ride the Silverton train before someone makes you do it. It's the ride of a lifetime.
005_4k.JPG
009_8k.JPG
015_14k.JPG
 

Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
888
Location
Carolinas
When my wife and I were dating while in college in Ft. Collins we ‘studied’ in the Rockies. On a memorable camping trip we rode the D&S and loved it. Been back many times since and would certainly recommend it. But I would agree the C&TS is just as enjoyable and in some ways seems more like a ‘real’ railroad.

You may want to call the D&S before riding To check on what engines they’re running. Because of fire danger from coal smoke they have recently bought a few diesels. While the view would be just as spectacular, it would lose some of the appeal to us.
 
  • Like
Reactions: v v

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,314
Location
UK / France
You may want to call the D&S before riding To check on what engines they’re running. Because of fire danger from coal smoke they have recently bought a few diesels. While the view would be just as spectacular, it would lose some of the appeal to us.
Are the engines swapped according to seasonal changes ie at the end of a summer, or are they changed on a day to day basis?

We wont have much leeway on dates as this is a part of a much longer journey and I hear that some popular campgrounds become fully booked frequently so booking ahead may be a must.
 

JayPea

Conductor
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,894
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
I have had the Durango and Silverton plus the Cumbres and Toltec on my bucket list for some time. I think I might wait until 2022, however. I still have another item or two on that list before it.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
562
Yes, it is definitely worth it. Consider taking one of the cars with historical narration. We took the car with the "first newspaperwoman of Durango" in the dress of her time who provided a wonderful commentary of the sites along the way and the history of the sites as well as the railroad. Very memorable and what with living so close to Durango, we'll be sure going again also. Same for the Cumbres and Toltec line, but we didn't have any narration along the way, just the beautiful scenery. While we took this latter line, the train actually picked up some backpackers along the way, so apparently that's another service they provide.

When we did the Durango-Silverton train, we stayed at the General Palmer Hotel which is a historical hotel right next to the train station. I think General Palmer also was active in the railroad industry back when this line was built. We enjoyed staying there and I recommend it if you decide to not camp. The Strater Hotel, another historical hotel, is also close to the train station and we visited the bar there because my sister loves historical hotels.
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,384
Location
Houston, Texas
I'm late to this thread; I've ridden the Durango train (round trip) twice and the Cumbres & Toltec (bus out, train return from/to Chama) once. I would do both again in a heartbeat. One thing I'll say, though...spend the little bit extra and ride in the Parlor car, or perhaps on the Durango train the Silver Vista. The personal service is worth all the premium they ask for it and more.

Photos from a 2007 trip with Mom & Dad in the parlor car of the Durango train:

100_0262.jpg100_0308.jpg100_0359.jpg

Photos from a 2010 trip with Dad in the parlor car of the Cumbres & Toltec:

Yellowstone Trip 2011 319.jpgYellowstone Trip 2011 320.jpgYellowstone Trip 2011 329.jpg
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,384
Location
Houston, Texas
Oh, yes...don't forget to take along a warm jacket on both trains, regardless of what time of year you're traveling. You'll be going up to 9000 feet elevation in Silverton, and over 10,000 feet at the summit of Cumbres Pass. Mountain weather can be very chancy...in 2003, Mom & I were traveling in late summer and we had snow flurries on the way back from Silverton!
 

Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
888
Location
Carolinas
Are the engines swapped according to seasonal changes ie at the end of a summer, or are they changed on a day to day basis?
While they have taken delivery of the diesels (bought from the Whitepass and Yukon RR in Skagway, which you may have ridden, the initial plans are to use for maintenance trains and shorter excursions to Cascade Canyon and not on the full route to Silverton. Best check wtih them if you're concerned about it and be aware of this from their website.:
"Damage to the train tracks south of Silverton are preventing the trains from going all the way to Silverton this season. The D&SNG Railroad expects to offer full service to Silverton on May 2, when the 2021 Spring/Summer season begins. To be notified when the 2021 schedule and fares are published, please call 866.675.6900 to be put on our “contact list.”

It is well worth the extra cost to ride the parlor car, Silver Vista. Great service, outstanding views, and comfortable seats.

Too bad they didn’t instead convert them into oil-burners...
They have, two of them this year. I believe at least another 6 are still coal fired and used in regular service. I suspect the oil fired ones will be used mostly during the summer fire season.

DSC_0301.jpg

DSC_0346.jpg

DSC_0326.jpg

IMG_1705 (1).jpg
 
Top