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Since the first tracks were laid in the mid-1800s, Colorado railroads have been a popular means of both transportation and tourism.
As one of the best train rides in Colorado, we recently booked a lunch ride on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
The Royal Gorge Train offers a one-of-a-kind experience with three-course lunches and dinners, wine tastings, and special event train rides like the award-winning Murder Mystery Dinner Trains.
Here’s our first-time experience riding on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad and what to expect.
Riding the Royal Gorge Route Railroad
In the 1870s the “Royal Gorge War” waged between the Denver & Rio Grande and Santa Fe railroad companies for the, now famous, Royal Gorge Route.
In the end, Denver & Rio Grande won the settlement and since then the railroad has passed through several companies.
All the cars used by the Royal Gorge Train are unique 1950s-era passenger cars that have all been remodeled to to fit the needs of train cars.
The types of train cars included are Coach, Deluxe, Dining, Open Observation and Kitchen cars.
All cars come with all the bells and whistles and modern amenities like air-conditioned and heated rail cars as well as open-air cars for viewing.
The train ride offers comfortable seats with tables, concessions, three-course meals for lunch and dinner, and a full-service bar.
The Royal Gorge Route Train is Colorado’s first and only full-service railroad dining experience.
How to get to the Royal Gorge Train in Cañon City
The Royal Gorge train ride isn’t a far drive at all! It’s located just 45 minutes southwest of Colorado Springs and less than 2 hours southwest of Denver.
It’s a great getaway for those looking for a unique and special event and is perfect for couples, families, and kids of all ages.
The Royal Gorge Santa Fe Depot is located on 401 Water Street, Canon City, Colorado 81212.
You’ll take Highway 50 to the west end of town and turn south on 3rd Street. The train station is located one block south where you’ll cross the tracks.
To the left you’ll see the train station and the parking lot is located to the right, which offers free parking for guests.
How much does it cost to ride the Royal Gorge Train?
The Royal Gorge Train has several different types of tickets available, each at a variety of prices.
For 2023, prices start around $79 a ticket for Coach Class or $74 per ticket for kids ages 2-12.
The cost to ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad increases from there if you choose a different class or want add-ons like meals and drinks.
- Coach Class
- Vista Dome
- Deluxe Class
- First Class Dinner Trains (with lights that illuminated the canyon)
- First Class Lunch Trains ( with beautiful canyon views during the day)
- Holiday Train (aka Santa Express)
- Valentine’s Day Lunch or Dinner Trains
Coach tickets are the least expensive but still come with fantastic views of the canyon plus access to the open-air cars for unobstructed viewing.
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers up to four departures times daily, including special events like Murder Mystery Dinner Trains.
This ride and dine experience takes you on an even more spectacular train ride through the Colorado Rockies.
Add-on a meal voucher to your ticket and get access to a grill lunch in the Vista Dome, or a three-course gourmet meal on the First Class Dinner Train.
I was thinking that this food would be like airline food. Maybe a premade sandwich with a bag of chips. Oh how wrong I was! The food we received was very fresh, very tasty and made right below us in the Kitchen car.
We personally loved riding the train for our wedding anniversary, and it was a magical experience that made our day extra special.
How long is the Royal Gorge Train ride?
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad goes on a 24-mile round trip train ride that lasts about 2 hours and carries more than 100,000 passengers each year.
This out-and-back trip travels through the heart of the dramatic Royal Gorge, through the canyon and under the famous suspension Bridge that hangs 1,000 feet above the gorge.
Once at the end of the route, the train will stop for viewing and photos. Then it reverses the way it came and continues back through the exact same route.
What can you do on the Royal Gorge Train Ride?
The 2-hour train ride takes you along the clear waters of the Arkansas River sandwiched between the tall granite cliffs of the Royal Gorge. In the summer you can see lots of wildlife and animals like bighorn sheep and bald eagles.
In the winter, during the holidays, they have the special Santa train where the train is decked out in lights and decorations, with employees dressing up as Santa’s helpers.
During the ride you can enjoy a delicious gourmet meal and full-bar with spectacular views from Coach or the glass-topped Vista Dome.
Once you’ve finished eating, take some time to step out onto the open-air viewing car that offers 360-degree views.
The different classes and elegant service have earned the Royal Gorge Route Railroad its reputation as the country’s premier excursion railroad.
A ride on the Royal Gorge Train can also be combined with the Royal Gorge Bridge. Which makes for an amazing all-day adventure crossing the Bridge and taking a train ride.
One part on top of the gorge, and the other literally 1,000 feet down at the bottom of the gorge.
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is a great getaway for those looking for a unique and special event and is perfect for couples, families, and kids of all ages.
It’s an incredible adventure that we really enjoyed and hope to book another trip very soon.