Colorado is home to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a 3 feet wide heritage railroad that operates between Durango and Silverton. Designated as a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the 45-mile ride on this historic railroad is a must when you’re in southwest Colorado.
The Durango and Silverton railroad has been running continuously since 1881. Originally built to transport silver and gold ore that was mined in the San Juan Mountains. Rail tourism picked up in the 1940s after the route was popularized in many Hollywood movies. The railroad runs purely for tourists, showcasing the beauty of the mountains and the Animas River that flows alongside the railroad in certain areas.
Riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Durango & Silverton Round-Trip Excursion
Step back in time as you hop on board a coal-fired, steam-powered narrow gauge train to the unique mining town of Silverton. Departures are scheduled throughout the day, allowing you to choose a time convenient to you.
The train takes about three and a half hours to reach Silverton from Durango. Passengers have about two hours to walk about the town of Silverton, have lunch, indulge in some shopping, and soak in this historic town before boarding your train back to Durango.
Cascade Canyon Express
If you want to ride the train, but you don’t want to spend the entire day traveling, opt for the Cascade Canyon Express that offers iconic canyon views aboard the railroad’s shortest excursion. This excursion is ideal if you’re pressed for time or have young kids with limited patience.
Cascade Canyon Express diesel-powered train will give you the unforgettable experience of stunning canyon views as the train chugs deep into the San Juan Forest to areas not even accessible by road. The train ride commences at the Rockwood Station, taking one hour and fifty minutes in all.
Historical Narration Journey
If you’re a history buff, then it’s a good idea to sign up for the Historic Narration Journey, where you get to learn all about southwest Colorado and the history of the railroad. The special train has narrators dressed in period clothing to make it an even more realistic experience for you. Passengers can choose between the Deluxe San Juan Coach or the and 1882 passenger coach.
Take a locomotive cab ride for a first-hand train operating experience. If you’re curious about what it takes to operate a historic steam locomotive, then sign up for Locomotive Cab Ride and experience what it takes to work the railroad line. You get to experience a day in the life of an engineer and fireman in the cab of a steam locomotive.
You get to observe them feed the fire and watch the gauges. Onboard the cab, you’ll be riding for 3 and a half hours each way in the cab of an authentic K-28 or K-36 coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive that pulls the regular train. This is an experience you won’t get anywhere else too easily!
Durango Train Museum
The Durango Museum covers a massive 12,000 square feet of pure history, taking you back to when the railroad was used to transport the ore. The museum houses artifacts that tell the history of railroading, with many of the artifacts being gifted by family members of railroad workers. Have a conversation with the museum staff, who are very knowledgeable about the history of the narrow-gauge railroad.
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is located in Southwest Colorado. Round Trip via train or one-way with bus transportation return is available from the Durango train depot at 479 Main Ave, Durango, CO. For information on tickets or hotel packages, please visit the D&SNGGR website.