All aboard the Rocky Mountaineer — Colorado’s new luxury train

Ride the rails from the Rockies to the red rock desert, in comfort

Gigi Ragland
The Denver Post

DENVER — Stacked layers of creamy white, apricot, lime and cocoa brown stone stretched like giant, multicolored taffy candy across the cliffs in front of me  as we neared the state line dividing “Colorful” Colorado and “Life Elevated” Utah. This vivid rocky plateau was just one of many diverse landscapes I beheld while traveling aboard the new Rocky Mountaineer luxury passenger train last October.

A new rail journey in Colorado? Yes! While our state benefits from a number of great and scenic historic train rides and railway journeys, this is the first two-day, exclusive passenger train linking Denver to Moab. Not only is it a first for Colorado, it’s also a first for Rocky Mountaineer, the renowned Canadian luxury rail company, which debuted this trip late last summer. The “Rockies to the Red Rocks” route includes an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs.

Before embarking on my journey, I spent the night at one of my favorite boutique hotels in Denver, The Oxford Hotel, which is easy walking distance from Union Station. As a history buff, the legendary property ticked a number of boxes for me. Founded in 1891, The Oxford hearkens to the golden age of railroad expansion in Denver, when the city served as a hub to Colorado’s network of mountain and plains mining operations. I met other passengers for morning coffee near the lobby fireplace where we admired the charm of the 19th-century ambience.

Since 1990, the Rocky Mountaineer rail line has offered train journeys that explore some of the most beautiful spots in western Canada and the Canadian Rockies, including the Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper national park areas. When the company began scouting for a route in the United States, it discovered underutilized passenger rail tracks linking Denver to Moab.

Although Amtrak and other commercial rail lines use a portion of the tracks, Rocky Mountaineer opened up 20-plus miles of underutilized track winding through red rock canyons providing views never seen by passenger rail.


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