Historic Trains of the Old West: Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad could offer the best historic train rides in the west. The company, home to a 12,000 square foot museum, sits in the idyllic town of Durango. It's a stone's throw from Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, and many great state parks. Parks aside, the D&SNGR (Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad) offers its own wealth of brilliant activities.
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This story has been created in partnership with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado.

Since the late 19th Century, cowboys, miners, and settlers have all used the D&SNGR. It was crucial in the development of Colorado. Today, it exists as a memorial to a fascinating time in United States history, and you can learn all about it in Durango. Take the Narration Train, for example.

Historic Trains of the Old West: the Narration Train

The Narration Train is a first-class ticket to understanding what it took to build the railroads, what it takes to maintain them, and what lives were like for those involved. Not only that, you’ll also learn about the local topography, composed of gorgeous waterfalls, canyons and mountains.

Along the 45-mile stretch of scenic railroad, on-board narrators, equipped with particular knowledge of their frontier characters, shed light on the world they once lived. Ask them questions and they’ll answer according to their character’s nature, with great detail. It’s an eye-opening experience, and you come out with an enhanced knowledge of what you know about the Durango-Silverton area.

Where to zip line in Colorado: Durango and Silverton

Moving away from history and towards adrenaline, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has partnered with Soaring Tree Top Adventures. Soaring Tree Top is a zip line company accessible only by the historic railroad. Unlike most, their rides aren’t over in a matter of minutes – that’s probably why it’s a 5-star-rated activity on TripAdvisor. Where most have 5-7 lines, Soaring Tree’s consists of more than 28, ranging between 50-560 feet, across 180 private acres. The newly added 1,400 span is a major crowd favorite.

We highly recommend trying this activity, not least because of its friendly, expert staff, but also because of the incredible views you’ll see. When it comes to the question of ‘where to zip line in Colorado’, there’s no better place.

Fun trains for adults

The D&SNGR offer a palette of activities for people aged 21 and older, and they’re a lot of fun. Event trains are a great opportunity to make new friends in a relaxed but quirky setting, and allow you to fully disconnect from work. Signal is spotty, so there’s not much choice!

Events like the Brew Train inform you of the nuances in the growing, influential micro-brewery scene in Colorado, while the Blues Trains are all about letting loose and hearing some great music. Wine and Rails is another great time – you can probably guess what it entails. Head to the D&SNGR website to find out more.

Canyon adventures: trains to Cascade Canyon

While these historic trains of the Old West run year round, there’s one you’ll want to check out this winter: the Cascade Canyon Train. Running November through to May, it meanders 26 miles of the San Juan National Forest, Cascade Canyon, and Animas River. It’s thoroughly beautiful, with plenty of opportunities for great photos. Not surprisingly, TripAdvisor users have rated it 5-stars.

To conclude

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a gem of The West. With all the great activities, they’ve made Durango the perfect place to make base in Colorado – year-round. Some unmentioned but equally enjoyable activities include Romance on the Rails, the Skyway Tour, and 4×4 wilderness excursions into the San Juan forest. There’s no doubt, the D&SNGR is one of the top historic train rides in the west.

If you are planning a road trip through Colorado, check out this road trip itinerary for some great ideas; National Parks, Monuments & Peaks in Colorado. 

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