Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

August 1, 2022

Nestled deep in the Southwest corner of Colorado is the town of Durango which is known for its railroad industry dating back to the 1880’s.ย  We decided to hop aboard the narrow gauge railroad and relive a journey back to the old mining days. So if you’re ready, ALL ABOARD for a journey along this historic train! ๐Ÿš‚

0 Railroad founded
0 Struck gold
0 hour trip

What's in a name?

Durango, Colorado, was named after Durango, Mexico. As the story goes, Colorado's former territorial governor A. C. Hunt was traveling through Durango, Mexico at the time when the name for the new town was being decided, and thought the two regions looked similar. The word Durango originates from the Basque word "Urango" meaning "water town" or "well watered place." There is also a Durango, Spain. The three Durangos are sister cities and have exchanged gifts and formal visits of their officials.

Train History

Durango was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1880. The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. From the very beginning, the railroad was promoted as a scenic route for passenger service although the line was constructed primarily to haul mine ores, both gold and silver, from the San Juan Mountains. It is estimated over $300 million in precious metals has been transported over this route.

Durango today

Today tourism is an important aspect of Durango's economy (along with recreation, natural resources development, education, government and business) and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad continues to run on the spectacular narrow gauge railroad that was carved through the mountainsides along the Animas River Valley more than a century ago.

Railroad Information

Conveniently located, the train ride starts in downtown Durango.

Arriving early allows time to check out the locomotive and see the crew getting it ready for the day.

When you select tickets, you have two options, open seating and closed cars. We chose to go with the open seating for the fresh air.

As the train leaves town, everyone is friendly and waves you off.

Although it takes some time to get into the mountains, the views along the way are beautiful. A mix of landscape and wildlife.

After a little bit of time, the train enters the San Juan National Forest where the beauty becomes breathtaking.

Further into the forest there are a continuous mix of cliffs, bridge crossings, and pine trees.

And in some spots, you are right on the edge of the cliff.

About 1/4 of the way through the trip, the locomotive stops in order to refuel the steam engine with water.

After refilling the engine we came across my favorite parts of the journey. The train followed closely to the river where the color of the water was vibrant and there were endless beautiful views.

At the halfway point of the trip, we stopped for lunch at a designated spot along the river. It was a nice break to get out and stretch the legs.

Exploring at lunch.
After lunch, we headed back the way we came. The train turned around so each side of the train had a different view.

They are serious when they say to keep your hands in the cars. There are many sections that come up quick where the train is only a foot or less away from rocks and trees. Please be careful!

Random views along the way.

The total trip is 5 hours and we found the ride back to be a llittle tiring. Thankfully there was a cafe car providing food and most importantly, coffee!
The trip back to town.