This is the highest full-service standard gauge railroad in the US, and the steam train excursion trips it offers are first-rate. Take the full-day excursion from Alamosa to La Veta and back. The trip leaves at 9 a.m. and arrives in La Veta at 12:25 p.m. You’ll have about two hours to walk around town and soak up the Old West atmosphere before re-boarding at 2:15 p.m. and returning to Alamosa by 5:45 p.m.
You have your choice of riding in the standard coach cars (dating from the early 1900s) or the newly restored double-decker dome cars, which are best for sightseeing. The scenery includes the dune fields, mountain passes, steep cliffs, and colorful canyons as the train negotiates one of North America’s highest mountain rail passes, steep grades, winding curves, and two tunnels. You’ll also see a fair amount of wildlife along the way, and docents give historical narratives as you ride the rails. The railroad now offers onboard bistro meal service (both breakfast and lunch), although you might want to have lunch in one of the quaint cafes and restaurants in La Veta, which also offers museums, shops, and a delightful park.