ANTONITO — The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS) will begin another season with authentic, coal-fired steam locomotives departing daily from both Antonito and Chama, N.M.
Owned jointly by the states of Colorado and New Mexico, the train follows 64 miles of tracks first laid in 1880 that cross the border of the two states 11 times.
The route runs along canyon walls through Toltec Gorge, chugs through two tunnels, steams over Cascade Trestle —137 feet above a roaring river and climbs to the top of 10,015-foot Cumbres Pass, the highest point reached by any steam railroad in North America.
The C&TS is a National Historic Landmark that moves — a museum on wheels — and was judged by the readers of USA Today to be the No. 1 train ride in the nation.
The season will kick off with opening day festivities and ceremonies at both the Antonito and Chama depots, features the added thrill of not one, but two special double locomotives, one departing from each station.
Trains pulled by two steam engines are extremely rare in the 21st century. Passengers will have the rare thrill of witnessing four steaming locomotives together at the scenic Osier Station lunch stop, half way between both starting points.
Beginning at 8 a.m. in Antonito, there will be live music, coffee and donuts at the depot.
At 9 a.m., Assistant C&TS General Manager Stathi Pappas will open the event, which will feature blessings from Clyde Vicenti, a spiritual leader from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Father Sergio Robles, priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Antonito, flag raising by the U.S. Marines, traditional colonial dancers and remarks and introductions of state and local dignitaries.
Antonito’s first train of the season will depart at 10 a.m. sharp.
C&TS strives to create an authentic 1880 railroad experience.
Passengers may walk through the train, ride in the open air gondola, open windows, or ride on the open air platforms between passenger cars.
The train travels at a top speed of 12 mph through deep forests of aspens and pines, across open alpine meadows and fields of wildflowers, through tunnels, and on narrow ledges through a rocky gorge of unusual geologic formations. On board docents discuss the history, geology and biology of everything encountered.
Deer, antelope, elk, foxes and eagles are frequently spotted, and passengers have even seen bears.
There are restrooms on each car, and each train has a bar and snack car. An upscale parlor car duplicates the experience that railroad executives would have had while riding the train. All trains stop for a delicious hot lunch of turkey or meatloaf and a buffet salad at the midway point, which is the scenic station of Osier, high above timberline with views in all directions.
Nine different schedules are designed to offer passengers a wide variety of selections to pick the most convenient option based on time, price and location.
Most trains depart daily at 10 a.m. from both Antonito, CO and Chama, NM. Passengers can board at either station. They can then ride the train the full 64-mile trip in one direction and return to their car by a scenic 40-minute ride on a deluxe motorcoach. Or, if passengers prefer an “all train” trip, they can board at either Antonito or Chama, ride to the halfway point at Osier, enjoy lunch, and return to their car by train traveling over the same tracks they rode in the morning.
For early birds who want to ride the entire 64-mile route, it’s even possible to park your car in Antonito or Chama, ride the motorcoach to the other station for the 10 am departure, and then
return to your car by train in the afternoon. Motorcoach rides and lunches are included in all full day ticket prices, which start at $99.75 for adults.
For those will less time, there are also half-day trips. And then there are special dinner trains, sunset trains, concert trains, geology trains, wildflower trains and a special July 4th train that includes fireworks. For details and pricing, go to: www.cumbrestoltec.com or call 1-888-286- 2737.
RAILROAD SPECIALS FOR 2019
Just some of the special trains to be steaming in the Rockies in 2019:
May 25, 2019: Opening Day, double-header trains will depart from Antonito, CO and Chama, NM. 9:00 a.m. ceremonies in both Antonito, CO and Chama, NM feature dignitaries from both states and local entertainment with a southwestern flair.
June 16, 2019: The Geology Train: This special once-a-year train will depart early from both stations and include stops with geologists to examine some of the unusual formations along the route. Geology Trains are available from both Antonito CO and Chama NM.
4th of July Dinner Train: leaves Chama at 5 p.m., dinner at the Cumbres Pavilion, entertainment, red, white and blue costume contest, then back to the Chama Rodeo grounds on the train, for direct viewing of the best fireworks show in the west. The train then returns to the Chama Depot parking lot.
July 27, 2019: John Denver Tribute Saturday Night Dinner Train: leaves Chama at 5 p.m. with dinner and sunset on Cumbres Pass and back by train at 9:00 p.m. Entertainment will include a John Denver tribute concert by recording artist Chris Collins and a 1960s costume contest, in keeping with the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock.
Aug. 4, 2019: Wildflower & Botany Special: This once-a-year special ride will include stops to examine the many wildflowers that grow in Colorado and Northern New Mexico along the route. A special souvenir booklet will be available to all passengers.
August 17, 2019, Saturday Night Sunset Dinner Train with the Mariachis Azteca: Ole! This once-a-year special leaves Chama at 5 p.m. with mariachis music, dinner and sunset on Cumbres Pass, entertainment and fiesta attire costume contest.
September 14, 2019, Saturday Night Sunset & Speakeasy Special Dinner Train: Travel back to the days of prohibition on a Speakeasy Special that leaves Chama at 5 p.m., with music, dinner on Cumbres Pass, entertainment and costume contest. And no worries! Elliott Ness will NOT be on board, but the bar car will be. Music by Jon Barnes, a jazz musician and international artist who has recorded music for Hollywood film productions. Ticket holders will be given the “secret word” for admission to the Speakeasy.
Please check the website for other special trains including the Cumbres Express.
WHERE TO STAY WHILE RIDING THE CUMBRES & TOLTEC
Both Chama, NM and Antonito, CO have hotels and bed & breakfasts. The town of Alamosa, Colorado is 30 minutes by car from the Antonito, Colorado station.
The resort town of Taos, New Mexico is one hour by car from the Antonito, Colorado Station.
The delightful resort area of Pagosa Springs, Colorado is just 45 minutes from the Chama, NM station.
ACCREDITED MEDIA RIDES
We do our best to accommodate accredited media, news stations and travel writers who want to ride the train. For information on media visits, contact Joy Meadows, [email protected], 303-522-9045.
For complete information, visit: www.cumbrestoltec.com or call 1-888-286-2737.
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