A Chimney Rock and a Scenic Railway

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

After 2 weeks in Colorado Springs, on September 26, it was time for us to continue south to Pagosa Springs. We popped in here earlier this year for 3 days, and D enjoyed the trail riding so we went back for a week-long stay. On this visit, we managed to finally explore Chimney Rock National Monument, D rode the trails, we hiked, and I did a bit of running.

Chimney Rock National Monument
A protected archeological site with limited access, Chimney Rock National Monument was the home of ancestral Puebloans over 1,000 years ago. When we’ve been near here twice in the last 2 years the site was not open for the season. This time our Airbnb home is within 20 miles of the site. On the day we stopped in it was within days of closing for the season – timing is everything. There are around 200 structures here, but most have been left in their natural mounded state with only a few excavated and rebuilt to demonstrate what was once a large community. Modern Puebloan cultures consider it a place of spiritual significance.

 
 

Our week in Pagosa Springs flew by and it was time to move on to Chama, New Mexico. Moving into New Mexico marks the end of our 6 weeks in Colorado, and we know we’ll be back for more of that beautiful state.

Chama, New Mexico 7,871 feet

We stopped in Chama in the beautiful northern New Mexico Rocky Mountains, 8 miles south of the Colorado border, for a road break after we left Taos in the spring on our way to Pagosa Springs. This is an area central for elk habitats and clear rivers, and is known for hunting, fishing, and the very popular Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway. While Durango, Colorado is known for their scenic railway, we were told this was the one to see. It’s known as the finest example of narrow gauge rails (3 feet between rails) in the country. This trip is considered a national and state historic site but also a national civil engineering landmark due to the design of the track layout to accommodate negotiating the 10,000 foot Cumbres Pass. Since we were going to be through here in the fall, we thought we would take advantage of the timing of fall colors and a day trip on the railway.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway
On the morning of October 4, we boarded a bus for a one-hour ride through the Rocky Mountains north to Antonito, Colorado 7,890 feet. While we’re not train buffs, we enjoy the scenery in areas we would not normally be driving in. And, one has to marvel at the old technology in action. We were right at peak for fall colors and those Aspen trees did not disappoint. Seriously, we’ve never seen so much color even when we were in the New England states for fall color. While you don’t see a lot of red, there’s enough burnt orange undergrowth doing their fall thing to offset the golds nicely. We chose this railway as it is considered one of the best by people in the know. After having taken it, I can see why. The scenery is as it would have been back in the 1880s with no towns in between! We were on the 64-mile train ride for a total of 6-hours snaking 11 times into and out of Colorado and New Mexico. And there’s also an absolutely delicious lunch stop part-way through. Yes indeedy, big surprise there. I even had a chat with the chefs to tell them how much I enjoyed the turkey dinner. We both had two helpings, and I was still finishing it off as we were walking out – seems we were the last ones to board the train!

Thanks for joining our journey.
Stay tuned,
DaM