The splendors of train travel through the mountains and red-rock country of western Colorado and eastern Utah will be showcased in a new luxury service to be launched next summer between Denver and Moab.
The service is being offered by Rocky Mountaineer, a company currently offering trips in the Canadian Rockies. While the new service will pass through Grand Junction, unfortunately it won’t offer local Moab-lovers the chance to get there via rail starting in Mesa County. Westbound trips only can be taken starting in Denver, and the only stop along the route will be for an overnight stay in the resort town of Glenwood Springs.
Rocky Mountaineer was founded in 1990 and currently runs luxury train journeys between Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. It plans to begin offering its Rockies to the Red Rocks route with 40 departures over 10 weeks from Aug. 15 to Oct. 23 of next year.
The service will feature glass-domed coaches, akin to some of the rail cars Amtrak uses on its Zephyr service that follows the same rail route from Denver through western Colorado as part of longer service between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay. Amtrak in October reduced the frequency of service on that route from daily to three days a week due to the pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the travel industry, and there is continued uncertainty of when tourism will recover,” Steve Sammut, president and chief executive officer of Rocky Mountaineer, said in a news release. “However, we believe American travelers, and those from around the world, will be eager to explore this region by rail with us and we look forward to welcoming them in 2021 and beyond.”
Lisa Langer, director of tourism promotion for Visit Glenwood Springs, said in a statement, “This is such happy news for our community and those along the entire route, as we have all been prudently working to reboot travel during a very challenging year.”
After the Rockies to the Red Rocks service’s initial startup next year, the plan is to offer it six months a year after that, as Rocky Mountaineer does on its Canadian routes.
The route between Denver and Moab takes passengers through Moffat Tunnel beneath the Continental Divide and down mountain valleys of western Colorado and through multiple canyons before reaching Glenwood Springs. It will travel only in the day so passengers don’t miss out on any views, which west of Grand Junction include colorful Ruby Canyon, where passengers should be advised that the scenery by tradition can include being greeted by the bared behinds of pranksters on Colorado River float trips. In Utah, the service will connect to a south-heading railroad route to reach Moab.
The two-day trips start at $1,250 plus tax, and include lodging in Glenwood and food and beverages on the train.
Passengers will be offered transfers to Canyonlands Field Airport outside Moab and to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. In some of the packages being offered, clients can explore the region on their own for three days in rental cars before arriving in Salt Lake City or Las Vegas. They also can take the train back to Denver from Moab.
Rocky Mountaineer said in its release that it long has had the goal of expanding its train routes to showcase new destinations.
Said Sammut, “The work to find a new route has been underway for several years as we needed to find a special location with many of the same features we have in Western Canada — incredible scenery, iconic destinations, and the option for an all daytime, multi-day journey that is best experienced by train. Rockies to the Red Rocks will have all of this and more, and is an opportunity to bring our award-winning Rocky Mountaineer experience to showcase the epic scenery of the Southwest United States.”
The company says it is working with local tourism organizations, hotels and tour operators to create custom vacation packages featuring tours, activities and stays in Denver and Moab.
More information on the new service may be found at www.rockymountaineer.com.