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A journey through the immaculate granite canyons of the Royal Gorge is just one part of my bucket list I can now check off. Dining while riding through the Royal Gorge is yet another. Scenic, secluded travel on a 2-hour ride along the Arkansas River create a note-worthy family adventure! Best yet, this railroad is close to Colorado Springs In The Royal Gorge Region.
The railroad attraction in Royal Gorge Region is one you just have to do in order to round out your trip to the area. If you spend time atop the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, then you definitely need to round out your trip with a ride below the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Talk about the definition of awesome from both above and below, they’re pretty much no words!
There’s no question that this 2-hour traverse is relaxing and picturesque! Want to know where to find the most scenic train ride near Colorado Springs in the Royal Gorge Region? Read on, then make sure to get your ticket ahead of time!
Scenic Train Ride Near Colorado Springs In Royal Gorge Region
I can’t thank The Royal Gorge Route Railroad enough for hosting us on this magnificent adventure ride. While we were guests, opinions, images, and thoughts are my own, based on my personal experience. Only the best of the best in adventures and activities make it onto my site, so I can tell you this is a GRAND Stop. Lets hit the tracks and learn more!
Are you ready for Arkansas River views abounding on one side, while canyon walls share the other? Scenery unique to the environment and food locally sourced are just a few additional reasons to head on down and climb aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
Definitely, get to the train station at least 1/2 hour before your train ride. Parking is free at the lot. There are restrooms inside the train station and on the train. Further, there is a gift shop at the train station with items ranging from postcards to ornaments to sweatshirts.
Now as you head on over to the gate, is the perfect time to take a ‘long shot’ of the train, in fact, it may be the only opportunity because as you get on you are moving at a rapid pace. Take a minute to get your photo of the length of the train.
Before I move on, there are 2 sets of restrooms and many don’t know this. Everyone heads to the one in the gift shop. Instead, go behind the ticketing hallway there’s another set of family bathrooms. Again, the train has restrooms too!
Once you have your ticket in hand, you will stand behind the white rail. When they are ready to board, they will come to the gate and then direct you to which part of the train you are to load into. It is not open seating, and your ticket will address your seating number. Look up above the booths, or chairs for numbering.
Progression of Visiting Royal Gorge Region
We visited the Royal Gorge Route Railroad after we spent the earlier part of the day at the Royal Gorge Bridge. I highly suggest the same travel pattern for anyone wishing to take in 2 very different vantage points of one of the USA’s largest suspension bridges!
From above, I eye-spied rafters through the lens of my pro-camera, and when aboard the train I saw other rafters. Now, the Arkansas River has been affected with lower water volume this year due to a massive drought situation so it was not nearly as intense as usual. That said, it still had its rough spots for those that like to really challenge themselves white water rafting!
What’s unique to this progression of visiting is that you get the history above about the bridge and it is not just a ‘bridge’ that the train then travels below. Rather, there’s a value and a background to what you are about to see.
Further, if you have driven down from Colorado Springs, you basically have had a ton of fun in one day! You can always do the dinner train ride instead so that you can just head back to your hotel after the ride.
Photos & The First Hour
Make sure your food is ordered ahead, and eat while the train goes forward for the first hour. What you might not realize is that the train travels back and forth on the same piece of track, so you will see everything along the way 2x! Brilliant eh?
On the 3:30 in the afternoon trip, I preferred shooting imagery of the Royal Gorge Bridge on the way back, rather than up. Why? The train actually stops and you get great images, rather than trying to shoot with the sun fighting you!
The only image you might miss is rafters. If you see them and want to take photos of that, do it when you see them, you may not see more, the rafting is done after a certain time, and that is why.
River Side Seating PLEASE
Get seating on the Arkansas River side, so that you see the water rather than the canyon wall. Also, if you can, I highly suggest the Vista Dome seating. You have a great view from how the enclosed glass-domed cars with booth style seating (perfect for eating).
Do know that if you are just a party of 2 you will be placed in a booth with others unless you otherwise reserve private seating. If you prefer single seating and you just want to eat and look out the window, I highly suggest the Club Car Class.
The seating in there is available for singles, couples or families. Additionally, the bar is right there if you want a beverage as is the restroom. Speaking of which, I think a restroom use on a train ride is also a bucketlist thing, call me silly but, it is kind of a thing!
Open Air Car – Choo Choo
Spend a great deal of time on the return trip in the open-air car. I suggest this timing again because the engineer will stop the train and you will be able to take some really awesome underbelly shots of the Royal Gorge Bridge. Trust me, it’s AWESOME!
Just stand and take the moment in before you start taking photos. You really need to experience this journey, even if just for a minute!
Yes, you stand in this open-air car, but there is a railing to hold onto and the breathtaking Gorge surrounds you on each side. The train is ONLY going 12 MPH so it’s not like you can’t stand upright or there is too much of a breeze.
Initially, there are a lot of people standing out there, so give it 10 minutes before you go out. Also, be out here on the return ride as the images are much easier to capture due to the lighting.
Last, as I will mention further down again, the train STOPS on the way back so you can be ‘Snaptastic’ with the Royal Gorge Bridge above. The train does NOT stop on the way up, so just suggesting this option.
Souvenir Glasses & Menu
Here’s a menu we had on the train ride. There are alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. You can also order water, someone did that around us as well!
Souvenir glasses for $5. Everywhere I travel, I tend to bring my husband something back that he will love. I very much love souvenir glasses. Thicker glass, durable and good looking for those home-poured draft beers! You do have to ask in order to get one.
As you can see the food is locally sourced and following this you will see a bit more of the menu. You can see the entire menu online and order your food there before you ever arrive at your scheduled train departure.
Food Ordering – Time To Chug Down Food
Another suggestion is to go online ahead and look at the menu, so you know what you want and have that food ordered. When you get on, and the train starts moving your food will arrive. We had to wait a good bit, first to get our server, then to get our food. It was almost too late to order, eat and enjoy the ride back. Most pre-ordered their meals before they stepped foot on the train, do that!
You can order food while on the ride like we did, but you definitely want to do it while you are on the first hour. I know I keep saying this, but 2 hours fly by and again, photos are better going back (IMO) than going up, due to lighting.
Allergen Friendly & Vegetarian Eats
Food is allergen friendly (ask your server), very fresh and vegetarian plates are available as well. Also, they offer yogurt cups, souvenir plastic cups, sodas and snacking foods if you don’t want to go all in with a meal. Really your choice! Please make sure to inquire with the serving staff as to food allergies as OURS vary from others.
Good To Know Information
I might add that the cars are air-conditioned, some people had jackets on, I did not. When you head outside, the sun will be sweltering on the way down to the Royal Gorge Bridge, however, on the return, the sun is not as strong.
Also, there is a photographer that takes professional photos and takes everyone’s photo. Later, as you are on the train ride they will come around and offer your options for purchase if you so choose. My issue with this is that there was no part of the train in the background, so it did not make sense. I wish the train was in the image, rather we got part of a door. (just in case you are wondering)
The train ride itself is about 2 hours. One hour up and one hour back. It’s that simple. Travel speed is approximately 12 MPH, it just glides. Perhaps my favorite part is when the Train blows its horn.
Move around the train, you are allowed. Check out all the other cabins: Coach, Vista Dome, etc. You have to see them, each is unique.
Gorge it UP!
Here’s one time it is ok to GORGE, or should I say get your Gorge ON! Enjoy all you can in the Royal Gorge area, before heading back to Colorado Springs (where there’s tons more to do)!
It’s a great way to end your time in the Royal Gorge area, so I do suggest a morning and early afternoon time at the Royal Gorge Bridge, then head back to the RR for the 3:30 and get the different perspective of the bridge. It is crazy amazing!
Train Ride Nostalgia
Truth be told, there is just something so special about a train ride and the Royal Gorge Route Railroad hits all the high-notes. Efficiency in ticketing, foods that are locally sourced and TASTE amazing too (that counts!). Finally, the scenery is luminous even in between the Gorge walls. You can’t take a bad picture because everything is so right.
Truly a day trip event if you are heading down from Colorado Springs, it is less than an hour (without traffic). Do make sure to head to the Royal Gorge Bridge early on in the day, again it’s all about perspective on this ride! Lavishly live travel out loud! ~ Dana XO