Train travel in relation to Colorado is not simply a means to get from Point A to Point B - it opens a world of natural wonders and Western history to rail travelers. Views of high plains and massive mountains lure passengers to the observation cars on Amtrak routes through the state while small towns with grand stories to tell fly by the windows. Travelers can get to Colorado from any U.S. Amtrak station by transferring to one of two major cross-country routes. And Amtrak provides options for traveling within the colorful state that entice visitors to keep riding the rails once they get there.
Amtrak Routes in Colorado
One of Amtrak’s major routes slices across the middle of Colorado from east to west, the other clips the southeast corner of the state. The California Zephyr, a long-distance route connecting Chicago and the San Francisco area, stops at six stations including Denver, Grand Junction and Fort Morgan. The train travels through the 6.2-mile Moffatt Tunnel, built to carry the train through the Rockies under the Continental Divide. In Glenwood Springs, the town where gunfighter Doc Holloway died, the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers join. The area has six ski resorts.
The Southwest Chief skirts the Rockies, making just three stops in southeastern Colorado, Lamar, Trinidad and La Junta. Wild West figure Bat Masterson once enforced the law in Trinidad, and Bent’s Fort in La Junta was a major trading post. The city is also home to the Koshare Indian Museum, one of the best collections of Native American art and artifacts in the world.
Amtrak provides thruway bus service between Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and several other small cities in Colorado.
Colorado Train Travel Considerations
Depending on your starting point and your destination in Colorado, you may want to consider upgrading your seating from coach to business, or, if you’ll be on the train overnight, choosing a roomette for privacy when you sleep. Seats in coach are designed for comfort – they’re larger than typical airplane seats, recline and have a footrest. Business class seats are typically larger, and passengers enjoy complimentary beverages. Roomettes convert from a private cabin into a small bedroom when the seats are turned into a bed.
Both the Southwest Chief and the California Zephyr have observation cars, and food is available in a dining or café car. If you’re fortunate, you’ll ride with a conductor who will helpfully point out which side of the observation car is best for the views.
Amtrak to Colorado Fare Tips
Amtrak runs deals and specials year-round and offers standard discounts for several categories of riders. SmartFares – rail deals posted at Amtrak.com that run from Tuesday through Friday every week – carry 30 percent discounts. There’s a catch: you must travel the week after you purchase your tickets, and you can’t travel on Friday or Sunday.
Discounted tickets for the Winter Park Express operating between Denver and the Winter Park Resort sell out quickly. The special weekend trains run from early January to late March. If you’re traveling with 20 friends, call for the group discount on Winter Park ski packages.
Standard discounts for AAA members, veterans, seniors, the disabled, government employees and kids traveling with an adult run from 15 percent to 50 percent. Expect some limitations on which class of travel and which routes you can apply the discount to.
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