Adventure on the Narrow Gauge

With coffee in hand, I headed to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train Station. As always, I was early.  Like, really early.  No one was around but my husband and so I took the opportunity to take some tourist free photos before heading in to retrieve our tickets. The man at the ticket counter looked surprised to see me when I rang the bell and announced a loud “good Inside the Stationmorning!”  I’ve never been much for mornings, but when I travel, that switch is flipped on and I cannot help but be excited to see the world in the early morning.

After getting our tickets I went to where the train was located and watched as workers, dressed like old-fashioned porters and engineers ran around getting the train ready to be moved to the correct track. It was fascinating to see how everyone knew exactly what needed to be done without speaking. All at once it was time to move the train that would be taking me on an adventure from the far track to the boarding area. Steam started to bellow from the engine and with a loud horn, it jolted forward. Once the train was completely pulled out, it slowly reversed onto the correct track. All the porters by this time were hanging off the train, hollering out when each of them passed a painted line on the tracks.  By this time, people were starting to gather.  Children were in awe of the train and adults were taking photos as fast as they could.

Then it was boarding time. With over 300 people, tickets in hand, it surprisingly took only minutes to board. Once inside the cabin, I fell in love with the vintage look of the train. The lamps were made to look like old gas lamps, the art was from when the train originally ran in the 1800’s, and there was even a little desk upfront for the porter of each car.  There was even a cute car that sold snacks and lunches for those that did not pack one.  The well-appointed train drew me in as I waited patiently… well, impatiently, for the adventure to begin.

Porter on the Train
With a few loud whistles, the train was off and surprisingly smooth. As we glided through town, a man dressed in the old train garb gave some instructions and told us it would take a little over two hours to reach our destination, Cascade Canyon. He also informed us of an open air car that was only two cars ahead that was perfect for taking photos while traveling. My husband Cody immediately knew where I was headed after the 30 minute ride out of town and he was right. Once we were in the San Juan Mountains, I left my seat to get a better view of the scenery and of course to take some photos.

The open-air train car was wonderful and filled with lots of like-minded people, excited to snap a few perfect pictures of the most amazing scenery. As the train headed deeper into the San Juan Forest, the scenery became even more wonderful, with piles of thick untouched snow covered rocks and frozen over streams. Leaning out the open window, probably more than I should have, I was able to capture some beautiful pictures of the train itself. It was wonderful taking photos, but after a constant stream of cold air hitting my face for over an hour, I was glad to hear the porter announce that we needed to return to our seats. 

Train on the go 5On The Train 3End of The Train
As we pulled up to Cascade Canyon, my husband and I quickly put on our backpacks and got ready to explore. While this was supposed to be a lunch break, we had other plans. Why eat at such a beautiful spot, when you can eat later on the train home. When the train stopped, we immediately headed for the bridge, taking our own path to explore the heavily wooded area. Cody and I have never been much on destinations, but rather the journey, which is why we never made it to the bridge. The beauty we found in the forest left both of us in awe. There were no roads, no walking paths, not hundreds of people taking a picture of the same spot. The train had taken us to a secluded winter wonderland.

With our 45 minutes up, it was time to head back to the train and on to our next adventure. Normally, we would have enjoyed another two hour ride back to the station, but not today. We rode the train to the first stop, got off and were immediately greeted by our snowmobile tour guide. But that adventure is for another day and will be the Part 2 of this story.

What adventure are you going to take next? I would love to hear from you, so leave me a comment below.

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