A luxury train journey through America’s Southwest

A luxury train journey through America's Southwest

“I apologise this isn’t in the brochure,” says our host, Mike Hannifin. “We’re approaching Moon River on the left and you won’t want to miss it.”

A day into our Rocky Mountaineer journey through Colorado and Utah, we pay shut consideration to Mike’s cheerful directions. The born-and-raised Denverite entertains us with native historical past as we cross by tiny communities (inhabitants: 10) and a city he claims is the coldest place within the US. A mostly-true recap of the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid makes everybody giggle.

Between sharp-eyed wildlife recognizing, Mike throws in private tales. There’s his adolescent first kiss on the Ski Train from Denver to Winter Park. Many years later, a profitable romantic proposal at Colorado’s stunning sizzling springs. Blink and also you may miss the bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and eagles, however Mike’s vibrant tales are in considerable provide.

As we peer out the home windows, preferrred for panorama viewing, a picture-perfect river seems. Framed by snow-capped mountains within the distance, the river displays a thousand rays of sunshine. It’s a scene worthy of a Visit Colorado poster.

Half-a-dozen hardy souls are rugged up towards the biting chilly to fish for trout from small boats. As the train passes by, the fishermen flip their backs to us and bend over en masse. In a flash, the lads pull down their pants and expose their naked backsides. We’re being mooned, good and correct. Coloradans actually are very cheeky.

Launched in August final 12 months, the brand new two-day Rockies to the Red Rocks rail journey connects town of Denver with Moab, Utah, through an in a single day cease at Glenwood Springs in Colorado’s western area. The itinerary is obtainable seasonally, from April to November, in each instructions.

Denver and Moab are each participating locations by which to spend time exploring both finish of the journey. It appears many are taking the chance to just do that. When we go to in October, a Moab native tells us one in three vacationers to the Utah city is a Rocky Mountaineer passenger.

Travelling at a mean velocity of 40 miles (64 kilometres) an hour, the tempo is unhurried and the atmosphere onboard is relaxed. All the higher to understand the Wild West panorama and look out for wildlife (and bares).

Historically, the Rocky Mountaineer has primarily travelled on Canadian rails, alongside the scenic trails between Vancouver, Jasper and Banff. This isn’t the luxury train model’s first foray into US territory, nonetheless. A earlier route, operated between Seattle and Vancouver, was cancelled in 2019 because of lower than anticipated patronage. Rail buffs have been extra inquisitive about delving into the huge Canadian wilderness. In the present local weather of unpredictable lockdowns, worldwide border restrictions and COVID issues for travellers, it is smart to supply an itinerary wholly throughout the US.

The elegant train, purpose-built for nature viewing, gives unobstructed views of the Rockies and the Mars-like crimson rock formations of the Utah desert. While Rocky Mountaineer shares the train line with three different rail entities — owner-operator Union Pacific, the California Zephyr Amtrak and the Burlington-Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) — it’s in a category of its personal as a luxury leisure expertise. While company deal with the passing surroundings, the uniformed train attendants serve advantageous wines and freshly ready meals from the galley.

Returning passengers accustomed to Rocky Mountaineer’s luxurious GoldLeaf service will discover a number of variations. On this route, SilverLeaf service is the one class supplied. That means it is a single-level train and there is not any separate eating room or the full-dome higher stage home windows GoldLeaf is understood for. Be assured, the fascinating surroundings, heat service and complimentary meals and drinks come as customary.

In SilverLeaf, meals are served at passengers’ seats. On our Denver to Moab journey, we get pleasure from two breakfasts and one lunch onboard. Options embody buttermilk pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup, wild mountain berry parfait or pepper, onion and cheese frittata. Billed as “delicious, regionally-inspired cuisine”, the meals is extra advantageous than fabulous.

The open bar is met with extra enthusiasm, with many passengers migrating to the lounge automobile to talk, sip and watch the passing parade of rust-coloured mountains and red-white-and-blue small city American. Complimentary drinks embody wines, beer, spirits and liqueurs. The wine checklist is devoted to US producers, all from California or Oregon. It could be a pleasant contact to see Colorado winemakers featured, maybe Colterris Winery’s luscious Coloradeaux or easygoing Coral White Cabernet Sauvignon.

By the time we arrive in Glenwood Springs after the eight-hour journey from Denver, spirits are excessive. The small city is charming and deserves extra consideration; it appears to be a secret that has been stored too properly. Passengers disembark to spend the evening at their alternative of three totally different resorts, all inside strolling distance of the train station. Most take the chance to dine on the town, the place really useful choices embody The Pullman and Riviera Supper Club.

The greatest drawcard of all, at the least to these of us who like to take the waters, is a dip in Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. It’s a cold late autumn night once we go to, and steam is rising from the 40-degree thermal water with an irresistible invitation.

The historic swimming membership, which has welcomed bathers from around the globe since 1888, claims to be the world’s largest mineral sizzling springs pool. Regular immersion is alleged to have the ability to heal every thing from arthritis to anxiousness. The pool design, wellness focus and social hangout environment will really feel acquainted to anybody who has visited Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or Szechenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest.

We swim till closing time, relishing the distinction of a sizzling tub on a chilly evening, then float again throughout the street to our lodge. There have to be one thing within the water as a result of all passengers handle to take a look at of their lodge rooms and be again onboard earlier than daybreak subsequent morning for a pre-sunrise departure. We have a five-hour journey to Moab forward, and by the loud night breathing sound results it is clear many people are detouring first to dreamland.

Moab holds the promise of two of probably the most spectacular National Parks within the land, Arches and Canyonlands. We are booked on a night stargazing tour to marvel on the wonders of the inky evening sky. But first, there’s an open bar to be loved as we drink within the ever-changing American Southwest views.



Rocky Mountaineer’s two-day rail journey travels from Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah, with an in a single day cease in Glenwood Springs. The Rockies to Red Rocks itinerary operates seasonally, from April to November, priced from $A1728 per individual. See rockymountaineer.com


Denver International Airport (DEN) is United Airlines’ largest hub, with connections to dozens of US cities. Moab’s airport is Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY). SkyWest/United Airlines gives day by day flights between the 2. See united.com


Rocky Mountaineer elective packages embody (non-rail) extensions to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. It is smart to plan further overnights in Denver and Moab, earlier than and after the rail journey. Both cities supply loads of fascinating sights and actions to discover.

In Denver, keep on the Crawford Hotel and you will be straight above the cafes and bars of Union Station, AKA Denver’s Living Room. A complimentary Tesla experience round city is a well-liked amenity. If Rocky Mountaineer figures out the logistics that can allow passengers to embark and disembark at Union Station, as an alternative of the present coach switch to a different train station, this actually could be the best place to remain. See thecrawfordhotel.com

A 10-minute drive from wonderful Arches National Park is Hoodoo Moab, a part of Curio Collection by Hilton. Elegant interiors impressed by nature set the scene for spectacular views of the crimson rocks panorama. See hilton.com


Denver is called the Mile High City as a result of it is one mile (1609 metres) above sea stage. The excessive altitude and dry air may cause altitude illness, a depressing state that may embody headache, dizziness and nausea. The simplest treatment is to relaxation incessantly and drink extra water than you suppose you will want. Don’t let it deter you from this unbelievable journey.



Kristie Kellahan was a visitor of Rocky Mountaineer, Colorado Tourism Office and Visit Denver.

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