Fri, Aug 11: Denver, Colorado. Fly to Denver and arrive in plenty of time for a tour of the beautiful “Mile High City." See many of Denver’s major cultural attractions and landmarks, including the fountains and gardens of City Park, the historic Colorado State Capitol with its golden dome, the Denver Mint and trendy Lower Downtown (“LoDo” as referred to by the locals). Check in for two nights at the Embassy Suites Downtown Denver.
Sat, Aug 12: Georgetown. Depart after breakfast for your first railroad adventure. Located 45 miles west of Denver is the Georgetown Loop Railroad (formerly the Colorado Central Railroad), an engineering marvel originally built in 1884. The tracks scale an elevation of 640 feet over mountainous terrain, requiring trestles, cuts, fills, loops and curves, crossing Clear Creek over four bridges, including the massive Devil’s Gate High Bridge. Listen as the aspen leaves rustle as you pass by them almost at eye level with the tops of the trees. Keep your eyes open for mule deer and the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, known for their agility and perfect sense of balance. Afterward enjoy lunch on your own in quaint Georgetown, transfer by bus to Grand Junction. Dinner included this evening. (Meals: Breakfast, Dinner)
Sun, Aug 13: Grand Junction. Relax and enjoy some leisure time today. An optional excursion to go rafting on the Colorado River can be purchased, or on your own you may visit the Museum of the West as well as galleries and boutiques in downtown Grand Junction. This evening, regroup for a special BBQ picnic dinner with amazing views at the Colorado National Monument. (B,D)
Mon, Aug 14: Grand Junction to Durango. Enjoy a scenic ride to the historic mining community of Silverton at 9,300 feet in elevation. Spend time in town for lunch before boarding the coal fired, steam operated, spectacular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Maintained in its original condition, it is the train enthusiast’s delight and the views that await showcase breathtaking canyons and mesmerizing wilderness of the vast San Juan National Forest. Ride along the Los Animas River, descending into the town of Durango, where “Old West meets Southwest.” Overnight for the next two nights. (B)
Tue, Aug 15: Durango. Enjoy the beauty, history and adventure of Durango today as you have a day at leisure. Founded in 1881, Durango is known for its historical wonder. From the old gold mines deep in the wilderness to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that still runs today, Durango offers a step back into the Old American West. Natural beauty literally surrounds Durango with the La Plata Mountains towering above and the Animas River flowing right through town. An optional excursion is available for a tour of the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. (B)
Wed, Aug 16: Chama & Alamosa. Depart for Chama, New Mexico, where it’s all aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to follow the original Rio Grande Line over the Rockies. This railroad was recently named “one of the best 20 railway experiences in the world” by the Society of International Railway Travelers, and one of CNN’s “49 Journeys That’ll Change Your Life.” Built in 1880 and little changed since, the Cumbres & Toltec is the most spectacular example of steam-era mountain railroading in North America. Travel by train from Chama back into Colorado and as you explore sixty-four miles of wild and rugged territory imagining the loggers and miners who traveled this route in years gone by. The train stops for an included lunch in Osier before debarking in Antonito. Make the short drive to Alamosa to overnight. (B)
Thu, Aug 17: Alamosa, Cañon City, Colorado Springs. Head to Cañon City and board the Royal Gorge Route Railroad to travel along the mighty Arkansas River. Savor an included three-course gourmet lunch while viewing the most spectacular scenery in southern Colorado from your upgraded dome car. The 12-mile route of majestic beauty follows the most famous portion of old Denver & the Rio Grande Western train line. Get your cameras ready as the train passes through the “Grand Canyon of the Arkansas” and over the famous Hanging Bridge cleaving to the steep granite walls of Royal Gorge. Watch for hawks and bald eagles, mule deer, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, beaver and waterfowl as you pass through the unforgettable scenery along the river. Next, it’s off to one of the West’s unique geological sites, the 1,300-acre Garden of the Gods Park, with views of Pikes Peak. Take a guided tour of this fantastic wonderland prior to a Farewell Dinner at this registered National Natural Landmark. Overnight in Colorado Springs. (B,L,D)
Fri, Aug 18: Colorado Springs, Denver. Following breakfast at the hotel, depart for Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, the highest cog railroad in the U.S., stretching nine miles in length and climbing to the top of Pikes Peak. Spend your last hours of your tour in the beautiful mountain community of Manitou Springs, a place that lives up to its Native American name that meaning “great spirit.” It is an artist’s enclave featuring time-honored art galleries, street performers, creek-side restaurants, and fun boutiques. Wave goodbye to Colorado as you transfer to Denver for your evening flight home. (B)
Embassy Suites Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver
Located across from the convention Center, this modern hotel is close to popular Denver attractions. Highlights: comfortable two-room suites with spacious living area • in-room coffee maker, mini-fridge and microwave • Wi-Fi access (fees apply’ complimentary in business center) • restaurant/bar • room service • complimentary appetizers and beverages at the nightly evening reception • 24/hour fitness center • indoor saline pool • 24/hour pantry market.
Hampton Inn Downtown, Grand Junction
Perfectly positioned in the heart of downtown among dozens of delightful shops, restaurants, galleries, music venues, and summer festivals, this Hampton Inn was renovated in 2016. Highlights: spacious, comfortable guestrooms • in-room coffee makers, microwaves and mini-refrigerators • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • breakfast room • fitness center • heated outdoor pool.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Durango, Durango
Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, the setting of this luxury hotel on the Animas River is picture perfect! The hotel received the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. Highlights: green-certified guestrooms with private balconies • in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary WiFi Internet access • two restaurants • lounge • room service (limited hours) • indoor pool • fitness center.
Hampton Inn, Alamosa
Located in the beautiful San Luis Valley and surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains, this comfortable hotel is near restaurants, pubs and shopping. The hotel received the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. Highlights: spacious guestrooms • in-room microwaves, refrigerators and coffee/tea makers • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • indoor pool and whirlpool • fitness center.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Colorado Springs
Nestled in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains, the hotel is within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and a 20-screen theater. Highlights: spacious guestrooms with upscale bathrooms • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • two restaurants • lobby bar • wine bar • room service • fitness center • heated indoor pool • video arcade.