Rockies and Rio Grande… a Colorado Rail Adventure!
Colorado is home to some of the most rugged, scenic, and historic railroads in the country. Whether you are climbing to the top of a mountain on the new Pikes Peak Cog railroad, crossing between New Mexico and Colorado multiple times through beautiful landscapes on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, or headed to historic Silverton through the picturesque Animas River canyon on the Durango & Silverton, you will find yourself experiencing rail history and adventure that will touch your soul.
I have ridden almost all of the Colorado railroads and I love sharing that experience with others… so I thought I would work with one of the companies that send groups to the Colorado Model Railroad Museum, where I am the Executive Director, to create what I feel is the most complete and exciting Colorado Rail Tour. Because I was able to be involved in the planning, this tour will be experiencing things no other standard rail tours do (because I know the right people to do the behind the scenes things!). We will ride all the major railroads, but we will also see some unique Denver & Rio Grande Western historic places, meet some famous Colorado rail people, and tour some very unique historic equipment.
This tour will make a circle around Colorado’s railroads starting and ending in Denver. Here are a few of the highlights of the tour:
The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railroad
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad
The Pueblo Depot and Rail Museum
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad with special guest Jerry Day
Stay at the historic Strater Hotel in Durango
The Ridgeway Rail Museum
The Georgetown Loop Railroad
Let me talk about why I chose to work with Southwest Adventure Tours to put
this trip together:
First, the cost of this trip on your own is very comparable to their prices because
they negotiate group ticket rates that I cannot get on my own. I did the math to
do this trip on my own and this is what it would cost me (I added rental car
because most of you are out of state – however mileage costs with my own car
would be even higher!):
Trip Estimate on your own
Rental Car – 1 week = $600
Hotel – 6 nights x $200 = $1200
Food – 3 meals/day for $100/day = $700
Cog = $100
Royal Gorge = $75
Cumbres & Toltec =$105
Durango & Silverton =$120
Total On Your Own=$3,100
Another reason to use a motor coach is altitude. Your base elevation when you arrive on the Eastern Colorado plains is at least a mile high and we will be going over passes at 10,000 feet of elevation. If you are not accustomed to the elevation, you will feel tired. This will make for unsafe driving conditions, and on the motor coach you can easily take a nap as we travel to each destination. Being well rested will help you have the best possible train ride experience. I am serious about the value of naps!
However, the most important factor in choosing to travel via motor coach… I don’t have to drive! I get to talk to all of you and enjoy the beautiful scenery without the stress of getting lost, negotiating the curves, or watching the gas needle. Oh, and there is a bathroom on the bus…that may take first place after all.
I hope you will join me on this once in a lifetime tour. I look forward to having a great adventure with my friends!
The Deadline to Register is May 20th, 2021!
I have been asked a few questions about how the pricing works… well, we have to pay for fuel, driver and Tour Director regardless of how many people go on the tour. So the more people we get to sign up the better. Current pricing is for 20 people but if we have more you will receive a discount on your tour price.
Base Price Based on 20 Paying Passengers Minimum:
$2,099.00 Double (2 people per room)
Below is a list of the price differences if you choose to have a room with only one person in it (Single) or if you have 3+ people in your room.
Single: Add $510.00 Triple: Deduct $165.00 Quad: Deduct $250.00
I know this all seems a bit confusing but Southwest Adventure Tours will get it all sorted out for us. If we do not get enough to meet the minimum number of 20 passengers required, your money will be refunded.
If you are driving your own vehicle to the convention or joining us separately from the convention, you will be able to leave your vehicle at the hotel of the last night on the trip.
Don’t forget the deadline to register is May 20th! I hope you will register today! Share with your friends!
A little instruction on how to register:
REGISTER HERE: (https://www.adventurecentral.com/user/web/m/wfCalendar3.aspx?AID=24083&CLUID=4c8c8e7e-171a-4b1f-8a74-16d2c25b5f79). You will see a calendar on the Southwest Adventure Tours site. Click on the 12:00 on Sunday, June 20th to go to registration. I have also put a link to their FAQ which has a great deal of information here: https://www.southwestadventuretours.com/planning-resources/faqs/
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have. My email is Michelle@cmrm.org
National O-Scale Convention
Colorado Rails with Michelle 2021
for Michelle Kempema
Tour Dates: June 20 – 26, 2021
Day 1 – Denver – Colorado Springs (6/20 Sun)
This afternoon, meet your local guide, board the motorcoach and depart Denver traveling south to Colorado Springs. After checking into your hotel, begin your Colorado experience with an evening of Cowboy fun, food and entertainment at the Flying W Ranch. With its humble beginnings as a mountain cattle ranch in 1947, the Flying W Ranch is a living symbol of Western Heritage, embodying the romantic spirit of the Old West. A western Chuckwagon spread of smoked meats with all the trimmings is followed by a western stage show performed by the world-renowned Flying W Wranglers. The band’s three-part-harmonies of time-honored tunes of the open range, superb instrumentation, and clean bunkhouse humor will make for a delightful evening.
Drury Inn, Colorado Springs, CO (D)
Day 2 – Colorado Springs (6/21 Mon)
Start the day with touring of Garden of the Gods. An abundance of plant and animal life can be found throughout its 1,340 acres, as well as the magnificent red sandstone rock formations, for which the Garden is best known. Then take a short drive to the charming town of Manitou Springs with free time to explore and have lunch on your own. Then it is time to travel to the top of America’s Mountain as you board the brand new Pike’s Peak Cog Railway for a scenic and emotional journey to the place that inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen “America The Beautiful.” Enjoy amazing views, wildlife and the new Summit Visitors Center. After an amazing experience, visit the Broadmoor with free time to enjoy the many shops, restaurants, the Penrose History Museum and more. Then visit the Rio Grande Depot to explore and have dinner on your own at one of the three restaurants. Return to hotel.
Drury Inn, Colorado Springs, CO (B)
Day 3 – Royal Gorge – Pueblo – Alamosa (6/22 Tue)
Pack up your bags, partner, because today you’re off! This morning board the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a vintage train ride along the legendary Arkansas River deep within the Gorge. Next, travel to Pueblo with free time to enjoy lunch on own in the heart of town. Then visit the Pueblo Union Depot and the Pueblo Heritage Museum across the street. In the afternoon travel to La Veta for a Rail Stop, then continue to the small town of Alamosa for overnight. This evening, enjoy a private visit to the 169 Locomotive followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Hampton Inn, Alamosa, CO (B,D)
Day 4 – Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway (6/23 Wed)
This morning, “all aboard” the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, considered the finest remaining example of a once vast network of narrow-gauge lines linking together the Rocky Mountain Mining Camps. This unique railroad has been called by author Lucius Beebe, “the most awesomely spectacular example of mountain railroading in North America.” It will be an early drive to Chama to board the train, then steam to Osier where you’ll disembark and enjoy lunch. Return to Chama, re-board your motorcoach and travel to the old west mining town of Durango for overnight. The evening is free for dinner on own.
Strater Hotel, Durango, CO (B,L)
Day 5 – Durango & Silverton Railroad (6/24 Thu)
This morning, start with a Yard Tour, then ride the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of the last such railroads operating in the United States. “All aboard!” for a delightful trip through the Colorado Rockies between Durango and Silverton. The rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and crystal lakes take you back to the early days of the West when mountain men searched this untouched land for traces of bear and mountain lion. Upon arrival in Silverton, enjoy some free time to explore the many shops and have lunch on your own. Meet our motorcoach for a scenic drive on the Million Dollar Highway with a stop in Ridgway to see the Galloping Goose at the Ridgway Railroad Museum. Then continue to Grand Junction with the evening free on own.
Hampton Inn Downtown, Grand Junction, CO (B)
Day 6 – Grand Junction – Denver (6/25 Fri)
Start the day by with sightseeing the fantastic monoliths of Colorado National Monument. Over the centuries, wind and water have carved sheer, walled canyons, spires, and gorges from the brilliant orange and red sandstone. Depart Grand junction and enjoy a short drive to Glenwood Springs. Visit the Train Station and enjoy some free time to have lunch on own in the fun downtown area. In the afternoon, continue your journey through the Colorado Rockies and arrive in Georgetown, once known as the ‘Silver Queen of Colorado.’ Enjoy one last train ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. An old-time steam locomotive chugging its way up the canyon, hauling you past the remains of several gold and silver mines. This open car train runs between Georgetown and Silver Plume, over 2 miles apart, its mountainous terrain requiring trestles, cuts, fills, loops, and curves totaling 3.1 miles of narrow-gauge track. At the end of the line, tour the Lebanon Silver Mine, taking you 500 feet into a mine tunnel bored in the 1870s. Your guide will point out rich veins of silver and tell you about early-day mining. The temperature inside the mine is a constant 44 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring a jacket. The tour also includes visits to the manager’s office, the miners’ change room and the tool shed. This evening, join the group for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant and share your experiences from the past week in Colorado.
Fairfield Inn Denver Airport, Denver, CO (B,D)
Day 7 – Journey Home (6/26 Sat)
Transfer to the Denver Airport by hotel shuttle on own for your flight home.
Services of a Southwest Adventure Tours tour director
6 nights hotel accommodations
6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
Entrance fees to attractions, National Parks and activities listed in the itinerary
Gratuities for included meals and baggage handling (one suitcase per person, where available)
Gratuities for local guides, the driver and the tour director
Items of a personal nature (alcohol, room service, etc.)
Meals (other than listed in the itinerary)