Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was the last grand adventure of Tammy’s birthday weekend. It was on the list of interesting places to visit while in Durango but it quickly moved up the list when it came highly recommended from a fellow camper at the KOA in Cortez. We quickly looked and booked the only available seats on the recommended car, Silver Vista. The added expense of the open air car is worth every penny. Be sure to bring a hot or glasses to help prevent hot ash from entering your eyes.
Our car was narrated by the lovely Stina. She was personable, funny, full of information, and made sure all train riders under her care were comfortable and cared for. While fully understanding this is her job, she was amazing and made the trip incredibly informative and enjoyable.
The railroad is the last continuously operating coal fired narrow gauged railroad in the country. It is privately owned and a portion of ticket sales are set aside for historic preservation. The line runs between Durango and Silverton that is otherwise inaccessible by car. The train makes several stops at various points to drop-off and pick-up hikers, campers, zip line tourists, and workers.
The railroad wanders through the San Juan National Forest. The train stops twice to take on water on the way up to Silverton. The train lets out ash which can contain sparks. To prevent forest fires potentially caused by the hot ash released by the trains, the railroad has developed a close relationship with the forest service to clear brush. This cooperative relationship helps preserve the forest, the railroad, and keeps the pristine forest thriving. The friendly brush clearing crews always stop and wave as the train passes.
Silverton is a charming town with only one paved road. It is accessible by car or tour bus. The train stops long enough for a leisurely lunch and time to shop and sight see. There is currently a debate raging between locals about allowing Telluride to come in and help develop the surrounding slopes into accessible ski slopes. Personally, we are siding with the locals opposed to such a plan. Silverton would lose it’s inherit charm and become another overpriced tourist destination out of the reach of most families.
The vistas and views from the open air car of The Silver Vista are truly amazing and memorable. As you can see from the picture above, it was truly a breathtakingly beautiful day. It is a trip we highly recommend to visitors in the area. We can’t imagine how beautiful the scenery must be in fall with the leaves changing color or in winter when the train runs a shorter route but must be gorgeous with snow laden evergreens and mountains.
It was a truly amazing birthday. Dave completely spoiled me and we got some much needed alone time. The views were unspoiled by road noise or pollution. Time stood still for the entire day and it was something I will never forget.