COLORADO — There's an abundance of ways to enjoy the fiery foliage that inundates autumn in Southern Colorado; maybe one of the most spectacular ways to experience the changing colors is from the scenic railways that dot our state's landscape.
Below you'll find videos highlighting:
- The Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
- The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
- The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad
- The Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Cripple Creek is home to the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. The smallest of the railways on the list, this 45-minute expedition through the Gold Camp has been owned and operated by the same family since its inception.
Jim Birmingham, the current operator, reports that his family's train has been riding the rails for nearly 60 years.
When the video below was shot (10/03/23) the aspens .
Along the southern border of the state, Antonito (CO) and Chama (NM) act as the staging towns for the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad traverses 64-miles between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO. It crosses the borders of Colorado and New Mexico 11 times as it chugs its way up and over the 10,015′ high Cumbres Pass.
The wild variation in elevation means you're going to see a wide variety of colors in the foliage along the route.
Co-owned by both states, this railway doubles as a living museum and even features a restored, 1880's rail car from Colorado Springs; the rail car was restored over multiple years and transported down to the tracks during 2020.
When the video below was shot (10/04/23) the aspens were about a week away from peak.
Sitting only a dozen miles south of the La Plata Mountains, Durango is home base for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad which connects the two towns through some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable.
The railroad has maintained continuous operations since 1881 despite transfers in ownership and transitions in purpose; throughout the years the train has hauled freight, acted as a film prop, and of course has served to bolster tourism.
Included among the films that feature this railroad you'll find:
- 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'
- 'Night Passage'
- 'Around the World in 80 Days'
- 'The Prestige'
- And many more
When this video was shot (10/05/23) the aspens and cottonwoods in and near Silverton were peaking while those closer to Durango were only starting to change.
With panoramic views of the Arkansas River Valley, Leadville hosts the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad which has been operating as a tourist destination since the 1980s.
This set of tracks takes passengers 1,000 feet above the valley floor and provides excellent views of Colorado's two tallest mountains, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive.
When this video was shot (10/06/23) the aspens were past peak.
Starting off in Manitou Springs at 6,320 feet above sea level before ascending to the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,115 feet, the Broadmoor, Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway are hard to top.
Usage of the Cog Railway started in the early 1890s before being acquired by the Broadmoor in the 1930s; the tracks stayed in operation for 126 years before closing down in 2018 for repairs.
Following around $100,000,000 in repairs, the railway reopened in 2021 and has been providing stunning views from along and atop this Colorado icon ever since.
When this video was shot (10/09/23) the aspens were past peak.
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