Staying On Track: Mile By Mile
Train Opens for Summer on Saturday
By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today
Over the past decade, every summer the Leadville Train has marked a new and improved part of the experience. Three years ago it was the upgrades at the water tower stop, a favorite picture-taking spot, as well as a new gazebo at the historic depot. Then in 2019 there was the expansion of the concession car adding adult beverages to the menu. And naturally to follow was the addition of the potty caboose, putting all of the modern bathroom facilities on one rail car.
So what’s new in 2021? More Lounge Cras. The wildly popular addition in 2020 was only overshadowed by COVID-19 space restrictions as the Leadville tourist attraction worked its way through the limited season.
We Need More Lounge Cars
Think old-style, early 20th-century railway service combined with 21st-century comforts, all laid out before timeless Rocky Mountain views, and that’s the new LCSR Lounge Car. A dream for years, the first Lounge Car debuted in May 2020 to rave reviews and sold out crowds. The labor of love was multiplied this winter, as LCSR track crews kept busy renovating more old box cars into these special railcar beauties.
With floor to ceiling vintage charm, the booth seating is available in sets of 2 (2 Top) or 4 (4 Top). The seating is enclosed but the large windows can be opened, letting in that fresh mountain air and sunshine. The lounge car has a private attendant to assist in purchasing concessions or answering questions. Seats are staggered to enable social distancing. Book now to see if available for your trip. For readers interested in seeing the rehab process please connect on the Leadville Train YouTube Channel:
Special Rides and Combo Packages
The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad‘s will blow the whistle on its 33rd year in business on Saturday, May 29. As they start out their season, the train offers a daily ride, leaving at 1 p.m. until June 14, when things kick into high gear with two-a-days, departures at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This year, all of the popular combo packages and special rides are back. But the news this year might be not to wait until the last minute to get your tickets, as 2021 is anticipated to be a record year for high-country tourism.
If you and your family/group are looking for some Rocky Mountain adventure, take your pick from the “Raft and Rail” or the “Rails and Zip Line Tour” package deals. On the zip line combo, guests will enjoy a scenic train ride up through the San Isabel National Forest. Then once at the end of the line, your group is taken up for Zip Line fun, traveling all the way down to base camp at Top of The Rockies Zip Line. This five-hour tour is perfect for adults and children, giving them an opportunity to see untouched wilderness. This package deal is available throughout the train season, for more information and to book your Zip/Train tour visit the Top of the Rockies website: HERE.
Or maybe you’re up for some whitewater adventure, with a half-day with Noah’s Ark Colorado Rafting; afterward, kick back on a 2 ½ hour scenic train ride in the afternoon. The “Raft and Rail” packages run daily between May 26 and August 16, but insiders say you’d better hit the river early in the season if you want some good water!
If you’re looking to add some lip-smackin’ flavor to your train experience, choose from one of these special rides. The Devil’s Tail BBQ Train features an evening train ride, on July 2 departing the depot at 6 p.m., and on August 20 at 5 p.m. and September 3 & 10, the train will be departing the depot at 5:30 p.m. All Aboard for a 2.5- hour evening ride, enjoying some award-winning BBQ along the way. These trips sell out, so make reservations now.
Of course, the 2021 season will also see the return of the train’s popular Wildflower and Fall Photo Special rides. Join their experienced wildflower tour guides for a 20-minute hike through pine forests, aspen groves and open meadows. View a multitude of varieties of wildflowers at the water tower. Some flowers sighted include Indian Paintbrush, Lupine and wild strawberries. You may find anything from the “local” deer to a mushroom in a wet marsh. Remember hiking shoes, a water bottle and camera. The train ride will depart at 10 a.m. and arrive back at the depot at 1 p.m. This hike is for people of all capabilities and interests. Wildflower Specials will be July 20, July 27 and August 3.
The Fall Photo Specials are offered four different weekends in September when the aspens are putting on a show all their own. Get that special shot framed by Colorado’s autumn beauty! This tour goes all the way, an additional mile and a half allowing you to see the full beauty of the Arkansas River Valley and will take 3 hours. Bring your camera and your jacket!
So plan ahead for your next vacation or summer visitors. or more information on any of these special packages check out the LCSR website.
Well, that’s a last call for #allaboard fo this post but stay tuned to Leadville Today for more sneal peak surprises in the train’s 2021 season.
For more details connect online at www.leadvillerailroad.com -or- call 1-866-386-3936.
Colorado Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, a digital media company located in Leadville, Colorado that publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com. She may be reached at email@example.com.