Boarding steam engine 482 of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGR) in Silverton on July 2, 2007
Looking for something for the entire family to do together while still being able to take gorgeous photos of scenic Colorado? Then board the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for an all day excursion in breathtaking Western Colorado and the San Juan & Rocky Mountains!
The moment you board the antique train pulled by a true steam engine from the early 1880's you feel as though you have stepped back in time. It is not everyday you get to experience how people traveled long distances before automobiles and planes were invented. During the time of miners you either traveled by horse (either avec or sans carriage), or walked. For those who could afford a boarding pass, steam engine was the preferred method of traveling long distances as horse-drawn coaches rattled your bones!
The D&SNGR lets you relive history and offers you views of the San Juan's & Rockies inaccessible via automobile. The round trip train ride will take a full day or 9 and a half hours! You board and depart from Durango and enjoy a lovely, albeit bumpy, ride through alpine vistas, rivers, waterfalls, valleys and wildflowers with the spotting of occasional wildlife. You will stop half way to Silverton to fill up the trains' water reservoir before resuming your way to Silverton. If you are lucky, as the train is filling up with water and empties any leftover steam you will have your camera at the ready. This happens over a river and the way the water/steam spits out of the base of the train looks like a geyser or blowhole. That is photogenic itself, but by the time you arrive at this location the sun is usually in the right spot to cast a very vibrant rainbow across the river.
Once you arrive in Silverton you will have a 2 hour and 15 minute layover to enjoy the small historic town. There are shops to gallivant about. If your photography has worked up an appetite, there are a couple of (highly overpriced) restaurants to choose from. But, just a warning, they are slow so I suggest you either eat or browse Silverton; doing both would be cutting it very close as you do not want to miss your return trip. You would have to pay for a one-way ticket and then wait for another train to arrive... and if you took the last trip of the day, well, you better hope there is a vacancy at the only small hotel! There are numerous historic buildings very much worth looking at through your lens including the small and very dark jailhouse! Considering the way our prisoners are treated nowadays with gyms, TV rooms, etc... let's just say that you would much prefer being in jail during today's times as apposed to Silverton's open-air jail cell with metal bed and no toilet aside from a tin can!
When the 2 hour mark approaches you'll hear the steam engine's horn loudly sound and the conductor yell the traditional "aaalll abooooard!" giving you that nostalgic warm feeling as you head towards the train station. The trip back to Durango, as with all trips back to a place, never feel as long as the trip out. Still though, you see spectacular views and your shutter button gets quite the workout.
All in all, it is a full day well worth spent for any level of photographer!
For those of you interested in taking the D&SNGR with a disabled person please note: one of the rail-cars (#213) is equipped with a wheelchair accessible lift. At least one wheelchair rider can fit comfortably while remaining in their wheelchair as well as have room for folding wheelchairs where the rider transfers to a seat and their wheelchair placed out of walking areas.
Now, when people insist on carting around infants in places suited for children over a certain age (8+ years old) and insist on lugging huge strollers around, the only place to place said strollers is in the car that accommodates wheelchairs. But, wheelchair users do have priority over huge strollers as strollers can be left in the car/hotel room. Also, the train crew and conductor are very friendly and go out of their way to make all passengers comfortable, regardless of physical limitations!