Operating out of Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is named for the views of the Cumbres Pass and Toltec Gorge that can be seen along the route. The line was saved in the 1960s by a band of dedicated volunteers, who went on to develop an interstate agreement to operate a rolling railroad museum.
Part of the same original railroad line as its better-known cousin in Durango, the line operates daily during the summer months ferrying passengers into parts of the landscape that aren’t readily accessible by motor vehicles. The 62-mile, roughly 6-hour ride from either Chama or Antonito offers spectacular views of the southern San Juan mountains.
The line operates between five and eight steam engines manufactured from the 1880s to the early 1900s. Volunteers have extensively restored both the engines and rolling stock. The railroad, designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012, has been used for dozens of movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The “Jones house” is located in Antonito.
For any train-lovers who have dreamed of being a fireman on a railroad shoveling coal into the hot mouth of a live steam engine or working as an engineer on a 100-year-old train, the Cumbres-Toltec does not disappoint. The railroad offers three-day beginner fireman classes as well as four-day advanced fireman and engineer classes, all of which include a trip from Chama to Antonito as part of the crew.
Know Before You Go
Passengers can choose between traveling from either end to the midpoint at Osier section house where they are served lunch, or they can travel the entire route. The Cumbres & Toltec can be taken from either end. If you don't ride from end to end, the Chama side offers spectacular views and includes a double header (two engines) to climb the pass. It does not, however, continue on to the spectacular Toltec Gorge. Riding from the Antonito side, you will pass through the Toltec Gorge, but the ride also includes lots of rather unscenic travel.Special trains are offered throughout the summer, including wildflower trains, geology trains, and various dinner trains.