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Old 01-20-2012, 10:02 PM
 
28 posts, read 54,761 times
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I'm planning my june colorado vacation and am looking for things to do. My husband cannot walk far or long so it will be mainly a driving tour. I thought we might take one of the scenic train rides. I have narrowed it to Leadville or the Royal Gorge. I wanted to go up on Pikes Peak but I'm concerned about the elevation effects on my husband. I would be interested in your opinions on which train ride is the most scenic and all around best ride. I am driving 20 hrs one way to see the beautiful state of Colorado and want to have the best time possible.
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Old 01-20-2012, 10:20 PM
 
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Hard to compare them as they are very different.

The Royal Gorge Route (RGR) does not go up to high altitudes, like the Pikes Peak & Manitou Cog Rwy which gets to 14,000+ feet. The Leadville train is nice and scenic too and IIRC gets up to about 12,000 feet. I doubt if the RGR goes over 7,000 feet, and it has a dining car for those who want lunch or dinner and is quite scenic in it's own way.

Further, and separately, there is the Royal Gorge Theme Park, with a bridge at the top of the gorge that you can walk across.

The Canon City area where the RGR is located has other local attractions too and the area is only a 1-hour easy drive from COLO SPGS.

You might try the cog rwy after being here a couple of days and getting used to the 6000+ altitude. There is oxygen available at the top of Pikes Peak. Just take it easy when you get here, drink LOTS of water, and have sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, lip balm and nasal spray for dry sinuses.
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Old 01-20-2012, 10:36 PM
 
50 posts, read 106,336 times
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I have ridden both the Royal Gorge and Durango & Silverton Railroads and they provide excellent, although distinctively different, experiences. The Royal Gorge Railroad affords an elegant dining experience on their Lunch and Dinner Trains (see https://www.royalgorgeroute.com/content/classesofservice/coloradowinetrain.aspx (broken link) ). The Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad (Home | Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train ) is an historic train, one that began service in 1880 and has been featured in a plethora of Western movies. It provides access to the wild and rugged Animas River canyon and affords views of the spectacular San Juan Mountains. A fall trip on the latter train is particularly memorable. Another historic train, the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad (see Home :: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad :: hrm, heritage rail management, narrow gauge, scenic railroad, western railroad, colorado railroad, new mexico railroad, tourist railroad, rocky mountain railroad, steam engine, coal-fired, best tourist rail ) follows a more southerly route through the San Juan Mountains and climbs to even higher elevations than the Durango & Silverton Railroad. You can't go wrong with any of the three.
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Old 01-20-2012, 10:50 PM
 
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thanks so much, I would love to ride the Durango Silverton but I was concerned about the length of the ride. It says like an all day event. I thought I would drive 550 and ride one of the shorter routes.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:58 AM
 
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Check out the Durange & Silverton RR website, particularly this page (Trails and Rails - 4x4 Tours & Train Package | Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train ). It is possible to buy a one-way ticket and travel by bus to Silverton and then back to Durango via the train. The page linked above also incorporates backcountry jeep tours from Silverton as part of the package, thus exposing you to additional vistas and areas of the San Juan Mtns. which are not traversed by US Highway 550. One author described the route taken by this railroad as the closest thing to a wilderness backcountry experience that you can get without backpacking.

By the way, my personal recommendation would be to emphasize the San Juans. Not only are they much less heavily visited but, with the possible exception of the Maroon Bells near Aspen, there simply is no more ruggedly majestic alpine terrain in all of Colorado and that includes Rocky Mountain NP.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:30 PM
 
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Much as I would like to recommend several of Colorado's outstanding scenic train rides, I think you may seriously need to consider whether coming to Colorado's high altitude is even something your husband should do. ALL of Colorado is over 3,300 feet in elevation. You will change elevation more in a few miles here than many people do otherwise in their lifetimes. Even perfectly healthy people from lower elevations can suffer altitude sickness here--if your husband's cardio-pulmonary system is compromised, the altitude effects can be a very serious problem.

The Cumbres & Toltec, Durango & Silverton, Georgetown Loop, and Leadville, Colorado & Southern ALL start at elevations over 6,500 feet elevation--way over in the case of the LC&S. Mike is wrong about the Royal Gorge--it starts at around 5,300 ft. elevation and ends at Parkdale at only around 5,700 ft. elevation. It is about the lowest elevation tourist train ride available in Colorado, so it would probably be the only trip I would recommend under your circumstances. On both the Durango & Silverton and Cumbres & Toltec, one must also be aware that, for much of the trip, both traverse areas without road access--not a good place to be if someone suffers a medical emergency.

As for US550 between Durango and Ouray--it starts at 6,500 ft. and goes over 10,000 ft. three different times before reaching Ouray at 7,700 ft. Silverton is at 9,300 ft. I drive that road constantly, but I sure wouldn't take someone over it who had issues with coping with altitude.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:53 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
13,973 posts, read 6,442,189 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Much as I would like to recommend several of Colorado's outstanding scenic train rides, I think you may seriously need to consider whether coming to Colorado's high altitude is even something your husband should do. ALL of Colorado is over 3,300 feet in elevation. You will change elevation more in a few miles here than many people do otherwise in their lifetimes. Even perfectly healthy people from lower elevations can suffer altitude sickness here--if your husband's cardio-pulmonary system is compromised, the altitude effects can be a very serious problem.
You raise a very legitimate concern based on the OP. I moved here almost 2 years ago from sea level (Bangkok), and the elevation raised hell with me for nearly a year. My blood pressure skyrocketed off and on, sometimes to the danger point. About a year later it finally stabilized, and all is fine now.

This despite traveling through the Canadian Rockies a couple of years before that and having little trouble.
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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Thank you Jazzlover. I am going to discuss these issues with his doctors. Last year we visited the Blue Ridge with elevations of 6500 ft. I know that doesn't compare with the Rockies but he had no problems and actually did great. I so hope we get to come but of course his health is primary. In the meantime I indulge myself with daydreams of high snow capped mountains and trying to have a plan ready " when I get permission " to go. Thank you for your help!
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:04 PM
 
15,470 posts, read 18,766,306 times
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Originally Posted by phetaroi View Post
You raise a very legitimate concern based on the OP. I moved here almost 2 years ago from sea level (Bangkok), and the elevation raised hell with me for nearly a year. My blood pressure skyrocketed off and on, sometimes to the danger point. About a year later it finally stabilized, and all is fine now.

This despite traveling through the Canadian Rockies a couple of years before that and having little trouble.
Good points by Phetaroi and jazzlover.

Over the last couple years I've had company come in from Nebraska and have taken them to various parts of Colorado on day trips. Took them to Leadville and told them to kind of take it easy when first getting out and about. As most people know, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the U.S., with an altitude of 10,152 ft.

The guy who had the biggest problem was me. I've been on meds for high blood pressure for a couple decades. Got a tad dizzy, somewhat fatigued, but still soldiered on. I've lived in Colorado all my life. Even I have to remind myself of the elements.
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Colorado
486 posts, read 1,167,935 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obbiemay View Post
Thank you Jazzlover. I am going to discuss these issues with his doctors. Last year we visited the Blue Ridge with elevations of 6500 ft. I know that doesn't compare with the Rockies but he had no problems and actually did great. I so hope we get to come but of course his health is primary. In the meantime I indulge myself with daydreams of high snow capped mountains and trying to have a plan ready " when I get permission " to go. Thank you for your help!
If you had no problems at 6500 ft then you should go with the Royal Gorge train in Canon City. Canon City is at a lower elevation (5200-5300-ish) and the train goes right through a massive canon, so you will not be going up in elevation. Canon City will be gentle on your hubby! and you can still get a peek of the snow-capped mountains from there!
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