Rocky Mountaineer’s newest luxury train route, “Rockies To The Red Rocks,” travels from Denver, Colorado, to Moab, Utah. Journey along the Colorado River — beside and through jaw-dropping mountains and through majestic canyons with cliffs built from years of erosion — to the towering Red Rocks. Team this with gourmet dining, signature cocktails, and spacious glass-domed coaches, and you will delight in this trip through the Southwest.
Note: Rocky Mountaineer sponsored my trip. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Meet The Rocky Mountaineer
The Rocky Mountaineer has been long recognized for luxurious train travel throughout Western Canada. Begun in 1990, the Rocky Mountaineer has grown to become the largest privately-owned tourist train in the world. They are proud to receive many awards, including recognition as the “World’s Leading Luxury Train” in the 2021 World Travel Awards.
Rockies To The Red Rocks is the first Rocky Mountaineer Line in the United States, running between Denver (the “Mile High City”) and the red sandstone mountains of Moab. The journey runs from April to October.
Here are my 11 reasons why I love the Rocky Mountaineer’s newest route, Rockies To The Red Rocks.
1. Luxury Glass Dome Coaches
The glass dome coaches with oversized windows on Rocky Mountaineer are custom built to provide maximum opportunities to enjoy all the scenery around you. The lounge car offers bar service, soft plush chairs, and the lovely tunes from the player piano.
2. Luggage Is Tended The Entire Journey
My suitcase was tended to and from the hotel and it traveled separately from the train. I loved not having to lug my luggage around!
Pro Tip: Bring a small soft-sided bag for your daily use as there are no overhead bins to obstruct your view. Your soft-sided bag needs to fit under the seat.
3. Incredible Scenery With Historical And Geographical Commentary
I was mesmerized by the incredible scenery and our host’s commentary explaining the historical and geographic significance.
The first day takes passengers from Denver to Glenwood Springs, a journey of about 8 hours. Here are some snapshots of my memorable journey.
The first highlight of our trip was traversing the 10 curves in the steep grade up to the Rocky Mountains. Notice the photo of the wind and snow blocks. The weather can be pretty nasty at times. Then we passed the Rocky Flats Wildlife Reserve. From 1960 to 1990, this area was the Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility. The art installation of the Cold War Horse was part of the early protests against the facility. The cost for taxpayers to close off the facility was $10 billion!
Passing through the Tunnel District took us through 30 tunnels in 13 miles — the largest concentration of tunnels in the nation. All the tunnels were built between 1902 and 1904. The longest is the Moffat Tunnel at just over 6 miles long.
Traversing the Tunnel District takes us to the Continental Divide. Soon the towering canyons, some reaching up 1,000 feet, of Gore Canyon greet us as we travel along the scenic views of the Colorado River. Watch for the expert river rafters who tackle this whitewater section.
Closer to Glenwood Springs, we transition from the Rockies to Red Rock Country as we enter Glenwood Canyon, known as “one of the most scenic natural features in the United States.”
We come to the end of a perfect day: day 1 on the Rocky Mountaineer. Please check #9 below for information on our Glenwood Springs Hotel.
The second day begins bright and early as we journey from Glenwood Spring to Moab, a journey of approximately 5 hours.
Prepare for the second day of jaw-dropping scenery: The Red Rocks are absolutely stunning! It’s interesting to note that just outside Glenwood Springs is the oldest coal seam fire in the U.S.
Soon we enter De Beque Canyon, a narrow 15-mile canyon along the famous Book Cliffs.
As we near the city of Grand Junction, we are entering the fruit-growing area and Colorado’s wine country. This is where some of the delicious onboard wine originates.
Just outside Grand Junction, we enter Ruby Canyon and marvel at the red sandstone cliffs. Then we cross the Colorado/Utah state line on the final leg of the journey to Moab.
Just outside Moab, we pass the entry to Arches National Park and the end of the line for our journey.
4. Attentive Service With A Smile
Gracious hosts will greet you and look after all your needs. I enjoy being pampered in the comfort of my plush seat and surrounded by breathtaking sights. The trip begins with a morning Mimosa and a toast: “Cheers to the adventure.” The environment becomes like a family as hosts stop by to chat and guests enjoy visiting with new friends.
5. Delight In The Tasting & Sipping Journey
I enjoyed the tasting and sipping journey with gourmet dining, signature cocktails, and local wines!
Dishes feature local produce, baked good, meats, and wines. The three-course lunch on day 1 is a particular treat! There is a vegetarian option at each meal. Rocky Mountaineer takes care to be aware of any dietary requests a guest might have.
6. Daylight-Only Rail Route
To maximize your sightseeing, the Rocky Mountaineer travels only during daylight. This allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey. In essence, you are leaving the “driving” to someone else! This is perfect for seniors and those looking for a relaxing trip.
The train also travels at “Kodak speed” to give guests more time to enjoy the scenery. At some viewpoints, the train slows down to allow for great photo opportunities.
7. Limited Wi-Fi & Cell Phone Service On The Train
I loved that there was limited Wi-Fi and cell phone service on the train! It was a delight to turn off the digital world to spend the time enjoying nature and making new friends. The train moves slowly enough that I felt comfortable moving around, whether to get up to stretch, visit the lounge car, or chat with new friends.
8. Spotlight On Wildlife
Watch for eagle nests high in the treetops. Did you know that the nests can be 6 to 8 feet in width and weigh almost a ton? Our host and narrator was great at giving us “heads up” on particular areas along the Colorado River and the Book Cliffs. We also spotted some pronghorns in the Utah Desert Area. Pronghorns are the fastest animals in the Americas, able to sustain speeds of 60 mph. You will recognize them with their white rump and underbelly.
9. Stay At A Historic Hotel In Glenwood Springs
Day 1 from Denver takes about 8 hours to reach Glenwood Springs. The town is famous for the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool, Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.
Guests on Rocky Mountaineer spend the night in one of three historic hotels. We enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Denver, right across from the train station. The boutique hotel is one of the highest-rated hotels in the area. I particularly enjoyed the antique furnishings and cozy room with the vintage quilt on the bed.
Glenwood Springs was a real “Wild West Town” with visits from such notables as Buffalo Bill, Doc Holliday (who is buried in the town cemetery), and Al Capone.
10. Mobility Aids On Train
Rocky Mountaineer trips are perfect for folks with limited mobility. One can move around as little or as much as they like. There are also mobility aids available.
Rocky Mountaineer strives to make mobility and accessibility comfortable for all. If you need special assistance, be sure to read this Mobility & Accessibility Information. Mobility requests must be mentioned at the time of booking.
11. Choose From Flexible Vacation Packages
There are two packages available on this Rockies To The Red Rocks Route.
The basic package, called the Two Day Rail: Denver to Moab, offers two train days and one-night lodging at Glenwood Springs. Guests will stay at one of three historic hotels: Hotel Denver, Hotel Colorado, or Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge.
The second package, called Rockies To Red Rocks Classic, also includes hotels in Denver and Moab.
You may also book enhancements and sightseeing experiences in Denver and Moab.
Guests may choose to travel west-bound, beginning in Denver, or east-bound, starting in Moab. Some guests even decide to make it a round trip, called a “Circle Journey.”
The Rocky Mountaineer brings back the joy and romance of train travel. What a fabulous trip it was. I’m excited to make another Rocky Mountaineer Trip!
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