The national parks within Colorado feature mountainous splendor of alpine lakes, towering peaks, rolling meadows, and captivating wildlife. Along the way, we will ride aboard the famous Durango & Silverton and Cumbres & Toltec narrow-gauge railroads through breathtaking viewsheds in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.
September 2-9, 2017
Historic Lands — Experience the beauty of all four of the National Parks in Colorado: Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Great Sand Dunes
Historic Landmarks — Stay at the historic downtown Hotel Boulderado; see the prominent General Palmer Hotel, a century-old landmark and inspiration for Stephen King’s novel The Shining: and stay at Durango’s Strater Hotel, with its elaborate American Victorian architectural features.
National Historic Landmarks – Ride scenic railroads, and visit a historic mountain town, that the Secretary of the Interior has designated as National Historic Landmarks.
Day 1 – Saturday: Arrival and Orientation Meet in Boulder, Colorado, for an opening dinner and orientation. Please plan to check into the hotel by 3:30pm. Denver International Airport is 42 miles from downtown Boulder, connected every hour by Skyride buses. (D) Overnight: Hotel Boulderado
Day 2 – Sunday: Rocky Mountain National Park Travel to the resort village of Estes Park, famous for its Stanley Hotel—the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining novel. Next stop is Rocky Mountain National Park to discover the true meaning of “panoramic” as you experience incredible views. We traverse the famed Trail Ridge Road, which forms the highest continuous highway in America. This celebrated “Roof of the Rockies” offers views of massive peaks and rugged canyons as you cross the continental divide. (B, L, D) Overnight: Hampton Inn Salida
Day 3 – Monday: Black Canyon of the Gunnison Today’s drive retraces the 1880s Denver & Rio Grande and Rio Grande Southern railroads. After crossing Monarch Pass we follow the Gunnison River, sixty miles of it protected by the National Park Service in Curecanti National Recreation Area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We gaze into Black Canyon, whose steep, close-set walls let direct sunlight reach some parts of the river only 33 minutes a day. Driving through rugged terrain from Ridgway to Cortez soon shows why the Rio Grande Southern was expensive to build and operate, though thousands of early-day visitors enjoyed its breathtaking scenery. (B, L, D) Overnight: Far View Lodge
Day 4 – Tuesday: Mesa Verde National Park An incredible day awaits at Mesa Verde National Park which preserves the one-thousand-year culture of the remarkable Anasazi Indians. Visit the fascinating Spruce Tree Cliff Dwellings to see two of the largest cliff dwellings built between AD 1211 and 1278 by ancestors of the Pueblo people. This evening enjoy dinner on your own in one of Durango’s many restaurants. (B, L) Overnight: General Palmer Hotel
Day 5 – Wednesday: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Experience the spectacular canyon of the Rio de las Animas aboard the train to Silverton. You will have time to explore the shops and galleries and savor the Victorian charm of this 1880s mining town, after enjoying lunch at the restaurant of your choice. Our return by bus will get back in time for you to visit the D&SNG Museum in the roundhouse, or to shop along Durango’s main street, before we meet for dinner. (B, D) Overnight: General Palmer Hotel
Day 6 – Thursday: Cumbres Pass and Toltec Gorge This morning we start early for Chama, New Mexico, to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The day-long trip to Antonito, Colorado, includes the steep climb to 10,020-foot Cumbres Pass and traversing the rim of Toltec Gorge. Our train crosses the state line eleven times in its 64-mile, all-day run, with breathtaking vistas at every turn. This railroad, like the Durango & Silverton and the historic core of the town of Silverton, is a National Historic Landmark. (B, L, D) Overnight: Hampton Inn Alamosa
Day 7 – Friday: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve This morning we introduce you to the newest of the four National Parks in Colorado. Like Black Canyon of the Gunnison, this area had been designated a national monument decades before it became National Park in 2004. In it are the tallest sand dunes in North America, set against the dramatic alpine peaks of the Sangre de Christos Mountains. This afternoon we drive to historic Santa Fe, New Mexico, where our tour ends. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner to celebrate a trip filled with scenic delights and railway adventure. (B, L, D) Overnight: Inn on the Alameda
Day 8 – Saturday: Return home Please plan your return flight home, from Albuquerque International Sunport, for Saturday. Before selecting your flight, be sure to book in advance with Sandia Shuttle service for the one-hour trip from Santa Fe. Departures are hourly starting at 5:00am. (B)
Contact Ben Sander at 202-454-3305 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to reserve your spot.
Check out NPCA’s full tour lineup at www.npca.org/trips