For years I've heard good reviews of the Cumbres & Toltec scenic train ride - America's longest and highest narrow gauge railroad. It leaves from Antonito, CO, and goes to Chama, NM, or vice versa, with a bus ride back to your origin. It's a little pricey at about $100 each, but considering we had been on the road for 3 weeks and had only spent $30 in 'camping' fees, we thought we could splurge a little.
Is this the engine? Seems kind of small.
Now, that's better.
We stayed overnight on BLM land right next to the tracks. Hmmm, that might have been a mistake.
The beginning of the trip out of Antonito is a slow climb through high desert.
We had to laugh when he blew the whistle at every dirt road crossing.
I began the trip in an enclosed car, but soon I braved the smoke in the open air car.
As we continued to climb, the scenery improved.
And the little engine kept on chugging.
Until it seemed like we were on top of the world.
We went though a couple of tunnels.
And places where the rock walls seemed way too close for comfort.
We had a bit of excitement when the engineer 'dynamited' the engine and all the air brakes immediately stopped the train. (Are you impressed with my terminology? I was in the open car when it happened and the docent explained the significance of the loud bang.) It seems there was a large rock on the track. The crew removed the rock and after the air brakes were re-pressurized, we continued on our way.
Soon we arrived at the halfway point and joined the passengers who took the train from Chama. We were served a tasty lunch with unlimited desert bar!
After lunch, both trains continued on their way, but we again had an obstacle on the track. Boy, did those cattle run when the train approached. Unfortunately, it took them awhile to decide to run off the track instead of down it.
We followed a pretty river valley.
And crossed two trestles. This is the Cascade Trestle which is 137 feet above Cascade Creek.
Soon we were back in the pine trees - cough, cough.
Then through some grazing land to Chama. I love to hear a steam engine whistle so captured it with a video. As a bonus, you might be able to see the cattle running from the train. I didn't know they could run so fast.
The trip was definitely worth the money and as a bonus, the bus ride back to Antonito was beautiful. Even if you don't take the train, be sure to drive 17 anyway.
The next morning, I took a video of the train as it passed where we were parked. I love the chug-chug sound it makes.