The Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railroad is approximately 64 miles of one of the most enthralling train rides you will ever experience in the U.S. This ride has it all from narrow ledges, deep canyons, stunning scenery of aspen groves, rolling hills and an abundance of wildlife.
The railroad is the highest and longest narrow gauge steam railroad in the states (10,000 feet at its highest point) at Cumbres Pass with a fascinating history from its beginning in 1880. Most of the rail bed has been dismantled except the scenic portions. The railroad has also served as a backdrop for many Hollywood movies.
We opted for the full day trip which started out at Chama, New Mexico and ended in Antonito, Colorado. Open gondola for me, I wanted to see everything! Just in the first few miles you are already experiencing the steep grade up passing over two different trestles. Cascade is the highest at 137 ft. as you gaze down valley slopes and rivers. The route takes us through the Rio Grande and Carson National Forests.
The scenery changes as frequently as the track direction with its many curves and loops. Many of the buildings and the few houses you see along the way are original. Our midway stop is Osier, where we are provided with a hearty buffet lunch and buttermilk pie.
On our second half of this incredible journey, we pass through the small town of Sublette. Although abandoned, it still provides water for the steam locomotives. We continue on from Sublette working our way through the 800-foot Toltec Gorge through canyons so narrow and rocky, you can almost reach out and touch the walls.
It took my breath away and I think it was definitely a highlight for me on the trip. The closer we approached Antonito, we observed elk, bald eagles and peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
As we depart Antonito, I realized this trip was not over yet. The motor coach ride back to Chama will take us through the scenic Los Caminos Antiguos By-way and more beautiful views of the San Luis Valley. This will positively be on my do again list!
TIP: This is a no frills train ride with a small concession on board. You can pick up the train at either town with a motor coach return or opt for the half day trip.
Please visit their website for schedule and fees @ http://cumbrestoltec.com.