The luxurious Rocky Mountaineer has long been heralded for exceptional luxury scenic train excursions through the majestic Canadian Rockies. We were one of the first to experience the launch of its first U.S. itinerary, “Rockies to the Red Rocks.”
Explore the majesty of the American Southwest from Denver to Moab (or reverse) in a luxury train, as you view ever-changing landscapes through a domed car. This 354-mile trip through the American Southwest’s most scenic natural wonders includes dramatic canyons, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, healing hot springs, sandstone cliffs and so much more.
You’ll enjoy an open bar across your journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, offering both a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy as you gaze out on the amazing terrains of this spectacular journey.
Fine dining is an important part of the Rocky Mountaineer experience. Guests are offered a choice of entrees to select from. Have dietary restrictions? Not a problem, as the talented kitchen staff can handle your request if alerted in advance.
Several side trip tours are available on the “Rockies to the Red Rocks” itinerary. One we can definitely recommend is a bus tour through the splendor of Utah’s Arches National Park.
Originally a cattle ranch in the early 20th century, it was designated a national park in 1971. Visitors come from around the world to experience the grandeur of the park, which boasts over 2,000 arch formations, 483 species of plants, 186 species of birds and 52 species of mammals.
Among the most iconic arch formation in this national park is the 52-foot-tall Delicate Arch, billed as one of the world’s most famous natural stone arches. A bus tour can take you there as part of the Rocky Mountaineer optional itinerary.
The arch is visible from a viewpoint below, but you can opt to hike the 1.5 miles of moderately difficult hiking to the top. There you will be rewarded with an unbeatable view of this majestic arch and the surrounding landscape.
Another optional tour on the Rocky Mountaineer itinerary is a scenic drive to Dead Horse Point State Park, where you can soak in one of the most spectacular scenes in the Southwest. The view on the expanse of Canyonlands National Park, stretching to the south and the majestic Colorado River below, is truly a sight to behold – and photograph.
In the 1880s, Cisco was a railway servicing point that provided coal to the steam locomotives that plowed through this remote region just outside of Moab. Today, Cisco is a ghost town, having been abandoned in the 1970s when the interstate bypassed it. History buffs may enjoy a glimpse at what remains, for a classic look back in time.
Sit back and enjoy the golden reflections on the sandstone cliffs from your comfortable seat onboard the Rocky Mountaineer as you leave Moab and slowly make your way through Ruby Canyon. Popular for river rafting, this 25-mile portion of the Colorado River is largely inaccessible.
Watch out for the sign painted on the canyon “Utah/Colorado,” marking the border between the two states.
With the arrival of railroads in 1887, Glenwood Springs experienced a tourism revolution with an influx of visitors seeking out its healing waters and climate to rejuvenate both body and spirit. Rocky Mountaineer passengers will have the opportunity to tour this charming historic town. Overnight accommodations include the Glenwood Springs Resort, Hotel Denver and Hotel Colorado.
During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the healing waters of Glenwood Hot Springs, which is among the world’s largest hot springs pools. Open year-round, you can soak in naturally heated water with 15 minerals to help you re-energize and renew tired muscles.
Rocky Mountaineer SilverLeaf Plus passengers have access to the lounge car, where they can relax, engage in conversation or order signature drinks – all while viewing the magnificent scenery from this intimate setting.
Nothing beats soaking in nature’s glory from the seat of a train, especially one that can access canyons and gorges inaccessible by car. Another advantage of train travel is that you can give full attention to the landscapes surrounding you, without having to keep your eye constantly on the road.
It goes without saying that most travelers rely on their cell phones these days to record wonderful memories of their trips to share with friends and family. While it may seem daunting to snap pictures or create videos from a moving train, this photo tip will definitely lessen your need to hit the “delete” button upon review of your images.
Position your cell phone directly on the train window and you will discover that this simple trick eliminates glare and reflections, resulting in that perfect shot.
As the Rocky Mountaineer approaches Denver, we enter the Moffat Tunnel, built in 1928 by Denver banker and visionary David Moffat. His dream was to have a railroad directly west from Denver cutting through the Continental Divide. You’ll pass through this historic, 6.2-mile tunnel on your voyage.
In 1979, the tunnel was designated a National Historic Engineering Landmark.
The most difficult challenge you’ll have on this trip is taking your eyes away from the window and the scenic landscapes that await you at every turn. As you enter Gore Canyon, you’ll be met with towering views on red cliffs, some 1,000 feet high, that rim this canyon along the upper Colorado River.
The canyon has no road and can only be viewed from the train and from rafting and whitewater boats. Its raging rapids make it one of the most exhilarating and dangerous river rafting venues in Colorado, and you can catch the action right from your panoramic train window.
David Moffat didn’t stop after constructing the Moffat tunnel. He had the vision to connect Denver and Salt Lake City, which required laying tracks along a steep climb up the front range of the Colorado Rockies.
The Big 10 Curve remains an incredible engineering feat to this day, which you will experience on this historic route on your approach to Denver with the Rocky Mountaineer.
In the 1860s, the discovery of gold and silver in the Rocky Mountains transformed Denver from a dusty frontier town to a cosmopolitan city. The Mile High City is known for its world-class cultural attractions, historic neighborhoods, a vibrant dining and craft brewery scene, eclectic nightclub and music venues – all within a short drive from the majestic Rocky Mountains.
It seems appropriate that we would end our unforgettable train adventure at Denver’s historic Union Station, originally built in 1881. The station is now part of a mixed-use development, which includes a hotel, several restaurants and retailers, and a picturesque vintage train hall (the Great Hall a.k.a. “Denver’s Living Room”).
Denver is also one of a limited number of U.S. cities that offer very reasonable transportation to the airport via their comfortable, fast and efficient rapid transfer system you can board directly from Union Station.