Last updated: 10:49 AM ET, Fri June 19 2015

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Packs a Full Summer

Car Rental & Rail | James Ruggia | June 18, 2015

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Packs a Full Summer

PHOTO: From the dining cars of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad you can take in sunset over the San Luis Valley as you eat. (Courtesy of Rio Grande Scenic Railroad)

The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, an Iowa Pacific Holdings train, is an attraction train that winds its way through the Southern Rockies on historic railcars, including two authentic City of New Orleans club cars, pulled by a mid-century diesel engine. This summer, the train will run a number of new excursions from a sunset dinner passage through the San Luis Valley to a day trip over the LaVeta Pass. The train is also participating with excursions featuring the Mountain Rails Live summer concert series.

The train departs from Alomosa, a town located about two hours outside of Colorado Springs, and follows historic routes through the mountains allowing passengers to view wildlife and scenery from vista-dome vintage rail cars. The train’s weekday and weekend excursions are priced from $79 for adults and $69 for children.

The train’s Valley Sunset Dinner Train excursions, priced at $79 for adults and $69 for children, operate on certain Saturdays between 6 and 9 p.m., through Aug. 29. The experience begins with cocktails and appetizers in art deco styled Illinois Central club cars with bar and lounge seating. Passengers then transition to dining cars for a multi-course dinner as guests take in a sunset over the San Luis Valley.

The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad has several classes of seating. The restored City of New Orleans Club Cars are used in Diamond Class. Retro dome cars are used for First Class service. They have table seating on two levels with a glass sunlit dome top to take in the scenery. On board service includes food served at table. The backs of Standard class seats can be reversed to make foursomes in traditional railroad seating, good for families or groups of friends. The open air car is a historic rail car from the ’60s and ’70s.

This is the eighth season of the Mountain Rails Live summer concert series. Operating on weekends through September, guests take the scenic train ride to the 9,400-foot-high Fir Summit Amphitheater, named one of USA Today’s “Top 10 Outdoor Concert Venues” last year. The concerts are set amidst breathtaking scenery, featuring top country and western folk artists.

Next week, June 27 and 28 will bring Country’s Mark Chesnutt to the series. July 4 and 5 is the Mountain Rails Live Music Festival Weekend featuring Suzy Bogguss and seven bands, music workshops and activities on the mountain, with optional camping. July 11 and 12 will feature the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. July 18 and 19 is the Trout Fishing in America Family Weekend. Other performers throughout the summer include John McCutcheon, Juice Newton, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Wranglers, Robin and Linda Williams, Exile, and Michael Martin Murphey. 

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