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“Rails and ales from La Veta to Fir on the RGSR was a fun outing” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
601 State Ave, Alamosa, CO 81101
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Ranked #5 of 11 Attractions in Alamosa
Type: Scenic Railroads, Landmarks
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is Colorado's newest train offering steam engine rides through breathtaking mountain valleys and over legendary La Veta pass on hundreds of miles of historic rail. Daily and weekend excursions offer riders a trip back in time on restored passenger cars that stop at historic towns, Great Sand Dunes National Park and connect with the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
51 attraction reviews
Reviews in 68 cities Reviews in 68 cities
56 helpful votes 56 helpful votes
“Rails and ales from La Veta to Fir on the RGSR was a fun outing”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013

We took the train from La Veta up to Fir for the Rails and Ales - an annual event that sells out well in advance. You can also take the train from Alamosa to Fir. The two trains depart from their stations and meet kind of in the middle at Fir, where the brewery reps (perhaps 30 or more) have their beer tables set up with lots of samples. The train ride is slow, but the scenery from La Veta is nice (not as flat as coming from Alamosa). Step 1: Getting the train/event tickets: the webpage defaults to Alamosa for the departure. You have to pay attention to get the right departure town (Alamosa or La Veta). The webpage sold tickets for the open car from La Veta but there was not an open car (there was an open car only from Alamosa). This meant a deal for those that bought those less expensive tickets and ended up in a "standard" inside coach. However, an outside car would have been nice for viewing. Step 2: Departure: picking up tickets at Will Call and checking in for the beer fest was easy and organized. An imprinted glass for beer samples was given to each participant. Departure was on time. Step 3: The train ride: (standard coach) Though our tickets had "assigned" seats, you could sit where you wanted in your car. The seats are 2 on each side of the aisle with almost every other row facing forward and every other row facing backward. You sit in groupings of 4, knee to knee. They served beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for a fee. Our cabin guy (Aaron) was quick and constantly checked on us. Step 4: Fir: Fun. Lots of beer samples and a great concert by the Rifters. Very windy this day and dusty. We were coated in dirt. Step 5: The ride home. Rowdy! (all that beer sampling). No alcohol was available on the train ride back (wise). All in all, a very nice day because of the event. Just a train ride might be boring, but a train ride to get to a brew fest with a concert is a fun way to do this trip.

Visited June 2013
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120 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“You couldn't pay me to do this again!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

This trip was absolutely HORRIBLE. We left from Alamosa and ordered beers which were not served for about an hour because the server forgot. After one beer arriving, the the train ran OUT of beer, which meant there was only bottled water on the endless ride back. We left at 10:00 and arrived at 12:30. Since the event ended at 3:30 that gave little time to enjoy the beer sampling. We left Fir around 4:00 and arrived at 7:00, when the scheduled time was 5:30. That caused us to miss dinner plans we had with friends visiting Colorado. In addition, the ventilation on the train was bad and the air ducts dusty and dirty. I had dripping sinuses and non-stopping sneezing by the time we departed the train and all night and most of the following day.

Slow, the worst customer service, unorganized and just in general bottom on the barrel. I paid a lot of money for this ticket and trip to the beer fest and did not get what I expected at all.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sarah M, Public Relations Manager at Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, responded to this review, June 25, 2013
I'm very sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy Rails and Ales - it is by far our most popular event of summer and we typically get wonderful feedback from attendees and breweries about the exposure.
I've sent your comments to management about service standards, as we take those very seriously. Our entire operation is built around exemplary on-board service and the only way we know it is failing is if customers notify us, so thank you.
After running this event for a few years, we have found that 3 hours is the maximum amount of time that people can tolerate at a beerfest at 9400 feet and the tickets are priced accordingly. We're glad to hear you wish you had more time! It was announced prior to the trip that the ride home is "dry", as the purpose of this event is for people to take advantage of the beerfest at Fir.
I thank you again for your feedback.
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Antonito, Colorado, United States
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Renew Your Love of Riding the Rails”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2013

I've ridden this railroad several different times and each time was a new and interesting experience. If you are riding west to La Veta, I strongly suggest riding in the dome car. You can see everything and relax with a drink while the wheels click underneath you, carrying you through gorgeous scenery on the route that first opened up the San Luis Valley to the 20th century. These rails carried the buildings that started Alamosa and these rails carried the people who would build up the cities and towns and bring industry west. A pleasant ride up the pass to La Veta rewards you with shopping and various lunch options in this charming little town.

Another trip possibility is to take the concert train to Fir and enjoy an open air chuck wagon lunch and concert. It is truly a thrill to be in the mountains at a high altitude, with tall trees all around and revel in the music with your fellow train riders. There's such camaraderie and joyfulness among the staff it rubs off on all of us who are along for the experience. You can't get here any other way than by the train.

There are so many different types of trains to choose, how can you go wrong? You can ride behind an oil burning steam engine, or a diesel engine. You can ride in the coach or the dome car. The attendants will meet your every need in every car. There are wine tasting trains, beer tasting trains, special trains for children such as pumpkin patch trains in October and North Express trains in winter. Truly something for everyone, and I highly recommend you check it out and bring the whole family.

Visited June 2013
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Average train ride with outstanding service”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

The fine folks at Travelzoo offered an attractive coupon to ride the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad on one of their winter trips. I purchased the coupon for two. Easy enough, eh? Unfortunately, the winter schedule did not work out for me. The helpful staff at RGSR were incredibly accommodating and enabled me to move the tickets to Memorial Day weekend! Hats off to their prompt, helpful, and flexible customer service.

Similarly, upon arrival at their train station in Alamosa, the staff was friendly, courteous, and helpful. They bestowed front-row tickets with the declaration, "We've upgraded you to first class in the dome car." I was so very pleased. Boarding was simple; the 1954-vintage car was in extremely good repair, it appeared; we took our comfortable seats on either side of the wooden table.

The experience started out wonderfully: 2 coupons for free hot chocolate and cookies, attentive (and friendly) service, on-time boarding and departure.

So, everything *surrounding* the train ride was really nice, throughout the trip which ran from 9:30pm departure until post-5:30pm arrival back in Alamosa.

Regrettably, the train ride itself -- which paces along at a leisurely 20-23 mph (the passenger train speed limit) -- was quite pedestrian. The scenery was OK, mostly flat valley surrounded by an array of spectacular 14,000 foot peaks. The diesel engine chugged along reliably. The ride was smooth enough.

Our stop in La Veta went as expected: small tourist town with nice restaurants and lots of arty shopping.

The huge failure was the climate control. The grand windows that enabled the great views were two-way, so the sun came in along with its heat. By mid-afternoon, our seat location was running 90-95F (more?) and the heat became quite oppressive and unrelenting, owing to the air conditioner "being on the fritz". This put a real damper on the trip!

On a lark, I visited the other car accompanying us on the trip. Turns out it was 'Diamond Class' and included not only extremely effective air conditioning but also food and softdrinks (simliar to the Parlor Car on the Cumbres and Toltec). They offered to upgrade us in the middle of the trip for a reasonable price, but I'm so cheap I declined (a mistake, it turns out).

In summary: a pleasant enough trip that, owing to the passenger car's broken air conditioner, turned out to be a bit beastly. Lovely people on the staff, fun co-travelers, definitely acceptable food and drink on the car. If you're a train-riding fan, consider adding in this good-value trip to your Cumbres & Toltec excursion -- especially consider the Diamond-Class experience. If you're only doing one train ride, I must confess that C&T offered much better scenery and, as others note, the full steam-engine experience.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

We flew here with our two children just to ride the train. We paid $140 a piece for the wine tour and lunch. We knew it might not be a steam train but it sounds like they don't even run them in the winter which is fine but all the advertising shows steam trains which is misleading. The depot is pretty spartan.. It seems like they could make some money if they had a larger selection of items in the gift shop. The ride in the train was ok.. It would be nice to have someone share some history or facts of the train. Thank God we were on the wine train or we would have been miserable and bored as the snow prevented much sight seeing. The wine train was ok but still felt like a sales pitch rather than real tasting and education. We also really appreciated the cowboy singer but he was there only at the end. Unfortunately there was a menu to order from but only half of the items were available and it took a long time to get food. Eve our hostess was very sweet but was overwhelmed and really needed an assistant.

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Sarah M, Public Relations Manager at Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, responded to this review, March 25, 2013
Hello -
Thanks for taking some time to review the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad and I'm sorry to hear it was anything less than a fantastic experience. We plan our winter events very carefully and our wine vendors were very excited at the chance to present their products on the train.
As explained in a previous response, the steam trains do not run in the winter. We were careful to no include images of our famous #18 Engine on product pages for which it does not run. We do still use its image, though, because it is iconic and so closely associated with our railroad and is still in service during summer months for the excursions. I hope that clears up confusion.
I have sent your comments on to management so that they can address the on-board services concerns. We want all of our guests to walk away with a memorable experience.
Thanks again.
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