Our trip around New Mexico continues with a visit to Chama, NM. Chama is in the northern region of New Mexico and hosts a starting/stopping point of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. Built in the 1800s, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a 64 mile long steam engine train ride zigzagging along the Colorado and New Mexico border. Considered a traveling museum, it is America’s longest and highest narrow gauge railroad. The rail gauge determines the number of feet between the rails and a narrower gauge (rather than the more common 4ft. 8 in. gauge) allows the train to navigate tighter turns through the mountain passes. Most narrow gauge railroad lines were abandoned and scrapped in the 1950s, but thankfully this one was preserved. Once a part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, this railroad was used to haul mineral ore, timber, cattle and sheep. Today the railroad is used for education and entertainment purposes.
The railroad season begins in May and bookings continue into late October. Your journey will begin in either Chama, NM, or Antonito, CO. Tickets may be purchased at their website. Click here to see ticket options. We chose to ride coach and were able to walk between the cars. We bought our tickets online and a motor coach took us from Chama to Antonito, CO. The motor coach ride was less than an hour. Each train station has restrooms and a small gift shop. (Restrooms are also available in certain train cars.) There is plenty of time for photo opportunities before you board the train, then it’s time to begin your journey! Starting off in the plains, you eventually transition into beautiful mountain passes. You can sit in your assigned seat or walk back to the open air “Gondola” car for more unobstructed views. (Word of warning: The brochures say to wear some type of protective eyewear such as sunglasses to protect you from the cinders in the open car, but I would add to wear dark clothing because the cinders ruined a new light gray jacket of mine.)
If you select the whole day trip, lunch is provided in Osier, CO and it is served cafeteria style to accomodate a large number of people in the quickest way possible. The options we had were turkey or meatloaf. The side dishes were the same for both meats. A limited soup and salad bar is also included as well as dessert. (The meal was edible, but not what I would call delicious. But, I was not there for the meal, I was there for the scenery so this wasn’t of consequence to me, so I ate. ) Lunch is about an hour long, then it’s back on the train for the rest of the trip!
We really enjoyed our whole day ride, but if you get bored easily, you might just want to try the half day ride. Either way, the scenery is beautiful and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some wildlife along the way! So, if you get a chance, book a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, I think you’ll be glad you did! And check out our AirBnB in nearby Brazos, NM. Once you see the pictures below, you’ll know why I included it here.
For more of my New Mexico adventures, read about Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Monument, the Zuhl Museum, Bandelier National Monument, Frontier Restaurant, Chili Line Depot, Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe, and Habaneros Fresh Mexican Food.
Until we meet again…