Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
4
Scenic Railroads
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About
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is Colorado's newest train offering steam engine rides through breathtaking mountain valleys and over legendary LaVeta pass on hundreds of miles of historic rail. Excursions offer riders a trip back in time on restored passenger cars that stop at the quaint mountain town of LaVeta and hear narration of Colorado history, mining stories and catch a glimpse of wildlife--including bears! Summer weekends brings the Mountain Rails Live summer concert series with nationally renowned acts to a boxcar stage at 9,400 ft only accessible by our train. This green location is run on solar and wind power. Seasonal rides are available throughout the year.
Duration: More than 3 hours
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles292 reviews
Excellent
163
Very good
66
Average
28
Poor
16
Terrible
19

BOB
Aurora, CO1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
I have a lung issue. They hooked me up big time with my tanks and gear. I was never more than 100' from the beer vendor or rest room and it is paved. Don't feel like your walker, crutches and wheel chair will hold you back more than other places do. Our mobility issues are well taken care of by their staff. The rail cars i have been in have all been rebuilt to look exactly like they looked when they were new more than 80 years ago. So if you are looking for an old train ride, a concert or a Beer Festival, this is the place to be.
Written April 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Passenger-Rail
Gold Canyon, AZ21 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Tourist passenger service was restored on the old standard guage Rio Grande Western Railroad between Alamosa and La Veta last year. An authentic steam locomotive No 1744 was added this spring for the weekend trips.
You can enjoy the trip across the San Luis Valley and climb the mountains through tunnels to the historic art town of La Veta where you can eat at the La Veta Inn before your return trip.
I'm returning for my third trip next week!
Written August 24, 2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

649kenk
Justin, TX40 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2018 • Couples
We had read the mixed reviews but decided to take a chance and booked our seats months in advance as part of a break while traveling cross country. The morning of the trip we collected our tickets without any issues and went outside to await the train. We had purchased meal tickets and there was nothing on our train ticket to indicate so, so back to the ticket window where they quickly issue meal passes. I might mention we have taken a number of "Scenic Train Trips" and were looking forward to adding this one to our list. Out on the platform you could see a bunch of old cars all appering to need restoration. I knew from other trips the cars are normally restored and sparkling, but as our train came in to the station it was apparent we were going to travel back in time as these cars looked thier age, old! We boarded our Dome car and got the best seats somehow, first row looking out over the other cars with a great 180 degree view. The staff was helpful and friendly. The train slowly started off and we settled in for the day long round trip ride. The first part of the trip isn't very interesting, not much to see, just flat lands and areas where money was in short supply. Down the tracks away we began a slow climb up the mountain when the train slowly came to a stop. After sitting awhile the crew finally informed us that one of the two 1964 Amtrac engines pulling the four attached cars had develped a problem and the remaining engine didn't have the power to pull us up the grade. We then backed down the tracks to a siding where people on the last car were moved to other cars and the car was cut loose to reduce the weight. We began moving forward again and in a short while we passed the point where we were forced to stop before, so slowly up the mountain we went. This area had been hit hard by fires, hundreds off homes lost and thousands of acres burned and we were going through the burned out area. We were lucky enought to have a member of the firefighting team on board to explain what it takes to fight fires in remote places. Since we were the first train to travel through the area since the fire you could still see smoldering hot spots, a reminder of how recent the fires where. As we continued up the mountain our fire fighter was expalining that without the under brush rains can cause flash floods. It wasn't 5 mintues later and we were in the middle of a massive down pour. It rained hard for 10 -15 mintues. A few mintues after the rain stopped the train once again came to a complete stop. From my vantage point I could see over the cars in front of us where the engineer and other train staff were getting out on the tracks and walking up the track. I couldn't tell why. We sat for what seemed like a long time before they informed us that a flash flood had washed mud and rocks over the tracks and water was still rusing over and under the tracks. From my viewing point I could see what seemed like every staff person up the tracks. This group cleared the tracks by hand! Finally we were told we were going to try to move forward and ever so slowly we did. Staff was seen outside watching the track very closely. We inched forward and I mean inched as they made sure nothing bad was going to happen. It took about 10 minutes to move 2 engines and now 3 cars over the scary part of the track. I must mention at this time we had moved downstairs to the dinning room. We were served our meal as life went on inside the train and the meal was, well, pretty darn bad. Mine had a brown gray over meatloaf. The gravy was like school paste or gum. Placing you fork on top and lifting would pull the meat off the plate untill the gummy substance would let the meat slowly fall back to the plate with a trail of gummy goo connecting the meat to the fork. Simply put, it was bad! Wife had a chicken thing which she said was like eatting mush. Skip the meal and eat at the turn around in LaVetta. Back to the train trip. We slowly continued through the sadly burned out forrest untill we ended up at our destination in La Vetta. Here we were to have about 2 hours to explore and shop (and eat) before the train left on the return trip to Alamosa. We were told because we were running so late we would have 30 minutes. Once we came to a stop in LaVetta we were informed we would now be bused back to Alamosa, an hour and a half away, and, the bus will be here in about an hour, so we waited. About an hour later we see a school bus pull in to the parking lot, yes a school bus, and yes that is the bus that is taking us back, a school bus! We pile on and I had forgotten how uncomfortable a school bus is. Knees crammed against the seat in front and a hard straight back rest, oh, and no A/C so the bus was warm to say the least. It was a silent ride back,the bus was full and no one was talking, but we did get back to Alamosa in one piece and we were safe. We felt the problems that occured along the way weren't the fault of the Train Company, we know the food sucked, but worst of all the use of a School Bus was what made this trip a bust. Would I take this Scenic Train Ride Again? YOU BET! You couldn't plan the trip we had. It was fun and everyone survived! They did thier very best! Oh, one of the passengers I was speaking with before boarding came up to me after we got through the flooded area and handed me a spike from the track as a souvenir. So not only do I have memories, I have a spike from the actual train tracks to prolong those memories. Ride this train, it will be an adventure!
Written July 22, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

IMissGizmoCat
95 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2020
We had a wonderful time on the 2018 Rail & Ales event and decided to go again in 2020. Purchased tickets when they went on sale in Oct. 2019. Apparently this operation closed down and filed for bankruptcy in Nov of 2019. The company running this railroad apparently owes large sums of money to the County according to a local newspaper. Did not notify us and we cannot get in touch with anyone to try to get a refund. Then they had the nerve to send us emails thanking us for attending this event. Ouch! Their website is no longer available, no phones, etc. Interesting they put the tickets on sale early and took our money but closed operations a month later and never contacted us. I'm mad about paying for tickets but I really feel bad for all the businesses and brewers affected. I wonder if they got scammed too.
Written June 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

One_Denver
Colorado99 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2016 • Friends
I had looked forward to the Rails & Ales experience with my son. What occured was a complete and utter debacle. To keep this short, it started when we boarded the train. The railroad had switched the observation car (from the City of New Orleans train) to some car that was a broken down piece of junk. The reserved seats didn't exist in the new cat. The seats were worn and miserably uncomfortable. The air conditioner on the car was broken and this is August. No windows to open. Miserable hot and humid.

The employee in the car had no clue what was going on with seats or anything else nor did they try to find out.

On the return ride, the band was supposed to play in the car. That was part of the package that we purchased. As soon as the band started, 30-35 plus people surged into the sweltering car. They crowded onto the seats and floor of the enclosed care with no ventilation or air conditioner. They were mostly drunk and shouted songs for the band to sing. When the band didn't respond, they all started singing in competition with the band. It was ridiculous.

Trapped in a passenger car with drunken crashers, no air conditioning, in a car that could only be improved by a final tour to the scrap yard.

This experience was a joke. Poorly planned. No customer service. Equipment that should be scrapped and noone on the railroad cared.

Never ever again. Caveat emptor to anyone considering a trip on this railroad. There are too many other great railroad experiences to waste time and money on this bunch.
Written January 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GrumpyReviewsUK
Cambridge, UK163 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Family
My family was visiting Alamosa to visit the wonderful Cumbres and Toltec Railroad, we decided to visit this railroad as well. What a mistake that was. We started off at the ticket office when the woman struggled to find our tickets, thinking we were for the later concert train (more on that in a bit). After rumiging around for a while, she found them, and we proceeded to the platform.

All was well as we waited for our train to arrive. An attendant from the office came out to ask some passengers about their meal vouchers, an offer the railroad was putting on for our 3 hour journey, as a dining car was going to be on the train. (Please remember this for later)

On the leaflets, websites and other promotional materails, a smart diesel, in Rio Grande Colours, in expected to be pulling our train. It is even sitting in the yard. Instead, a 1970s diesel, in a dirty silver livery came pulling in, with three coaches. On this Grand train we were expecting something with more class, but instead, got a locomotive which looked like it had never been given any TLC. But, as my son said, you can't judge a locomotive by its looks so we got on. Coach 1066 please. But, hang on, the train infront of us did not have that coach, only 1068? We have first class tickets...

The car attendant said that it will be on the concert train later, but we said we have tickets for this train, to La Veta. He then realised that the office had not told the train staff what cars where going to be used, so he said come abourd and any problems with finding your seats, just ask, they should all be the same...

Well, our tickets were 1, 2 and 6, but seats 1 and 2 did not exist, even seat 6, which was next to a window was next to an aisle. So the train pulled out of the staton in out quite dirty 'First Class' car.

We decided to move to a different car, the seats were not comfortable. In one direction, was a really smart parlour car, and in the other direction, another, smart parlour car. We decided to head to the back of the train, were we could at least get some good pictures. So the car attendant, Matt, introduced us to the railroad and was happy to serve drinks to guests. One of the passengers asked about their meal tickets and when will the get on the buffet car, even though there is no buffet car on the train. He said it will be on the concert train, so there was no hot meals on the train itself. A disaster, especially as that customer had paid more money for that service.

I think we should say we booked this train in Feburary 2014, when it said online that seats were limited as the train was almost fully booked and the only tickets left was first class. It was quite a shock when the train was less than half full.

So, Matt tells us that all food and drink will be complimentary and snacks will be served, along with some Gumbo later on in the day. We travel very slowely on some flat grasslands, through a forest and up the mountain to La Veta, with Matt giving us stories, history and drinks. Some fruit and cakes were served and we were on our way. Nothing else could go wrong...

At La Veta, we had 1 hour to go around the town to have some lunch, even though we were promised one and a half hours. So lunch was rushed, in a small cafe that was struggling with the load of passengers that disembarked and needed refeshments. We then got back to the depot only to find out train was not there, but in the turning triangle, when it was turning around. So we waited, and waited, and waited some more as each individual car was turned around ready for the journey back. We got on and waited to go, and we continued to wait, for over 30 minutes. The train, due to its delay, had missed its slot and had to wait for the concert train to depart, so we continued to wait.

At 3.30 we departed and slowely traveled up the mountain, and found out from our conductor that this area had been the site for a crash a few months ago when one of the freight wagons tipped on its side. Basically, the track was in poor condition and needed replacement. This problem delayed our train by an hour as we crawled along the track, going at just above walking speed. Snacks were served, cubes of cheese, crackers and some vegetables. The gumbo was served as well and was tasty, nice and warm, as the carriage was freezing.

Then,as we passed the concert site, we heard a bang and when one of the passengers discovered after going to the toilet in the other car (the ones in ours were not working) that the generator in our car was leaking fuel. So the conductorfixed it with a twig. Crisis averted.

Then as we continued to travel along and wonder when this journey would ever end, a man with a guitar came in and started to play for us. A Titanic moment indeed.

At 7.00, then train arrived and customers disembarked for the ticket office to ask for a refund. The owner of the railroad was there as well, but he mostly ignored the critism from the passengers. We discovered on the trip that he was a millionaire and had brought the train and the stock in the yard, so he was basically the Fat Controller without any knowledge of how to run a Railroad.

The entire trip was a shambles, and there seemed like a lack of communication between the office staff and the train staff. Having a dining car on the train when dining car tickets was being sold is basic railroad logic, make sure you have the right carriages on the train when you are getting the train ready. The train turning around was unnecessary, as if it neccessary to turn the train around due to wear of wheels, then that could have been done in the depot, they have the facilities there!

Also, people paid different prices for the same amenities, as no one knew where they where sitting. We, to this day, have no idea if we were sitting in first class or any of the other classes that they had on offer.

Despite all of the downfalls of the experience, the staff were excellent. Our train conductor was really polite and a joy to talk to and Matt was excellent as the train manager, as he helped with all of the confusion and gave us really interesting facts as well. And the gumbo was delicious.
Written September 14, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KAREN G
Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States34 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2013 • Friends
I am extremely disappointed that the Rio Grande Scenic Railway has canceled leaving from La Veta Colorado to go to the concerts in Fir Colorado and Alamosa. It makes the trip to Alamosa to catch the train very long for those of us on the front range. It will also have a devastating impact to the economy of La Veta. There are several concerts and events I would like to go to but I am not going because of the long trip to Alamosa. I hope they will reconsider and put the La Veta stop back on. BTW, trying to get ahold of customer service to voice a complaint is next to impossible.
Written January 30, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Glen C
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2017 • Couples
After cancelling my reservations within the company policy timeline, I have as yet to receive the check I was promised. It has been two months. I am unable to speak with anyone with any authority, and my emails go unanswered. The last contact I had told me to file a complaint with my credit card company. I have interpreted this to mean their refund policy is bogus. They keep your money.
Written September 18, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ruth F
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2017 • Couples
We had to cancel our reservation because of a family emergency. We called the company and was told that their new software was unable to refund our credit card and we would receive a refund in 7-10 business days via check in the mail. After 21 business days I called and was told they only write checks the last Wednesday of the month and I needed to wait until then. I have called numerous times and left emails, voice mails and NO ONE EVER CALLS BACK. DO NOT PRE PAY FOR YOUR TRIP AND HAVE TO CANCEL YOU WILL NEVER RECEIVE THE REFUND!
Written November 1, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elizabeth M M
Canon City, CO5 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2014 • Friends
Staff did not have passengers sit in assigned seats per our tickets and this created hard feelings in our car when people wanted their same seats back on the return trip. We bought vouchers for food. Stood in line for 2 hours on a brick walkway while the train staff tried to cook lunches to-order on grills. Total chaos and travelers were miserable and angry. Our hamburgers were burned and hard when we finally got our lunch at 3 pm. Only soda was left when we got our meal, no water! We found a place to sit and were immediately told it was time for the train to leave! We tossed our meals into overfilled bins and trudged up the steep steps to the train. The "scenic" part was just what you can see from the highway in your car. Boring trip. The only "wildlife" we saw were some domestic sheep. There was no attempt to tell us about the area. The friendly staff did not know what drinks were served in the bar car or the prices. They did go and get us a menu but never brought us anything. The positives were all the staff were cheerful, and friendly, wearing nice train uniforms and the cars were clean and comfortable. We only went as far as Fir, Colorado which is the top of LaVeta Pass and has several train buildings there-that is all. We could not hear the concert as we were in line for food in another area and there were constant strong winds that blew away the sound and food. Suggestions-do not try and cook to order. Have a simple food menu cooked and ready before the passengers arrive so they can be quickly served. (Maybe a bun with shredded chicken or pork bbq, cole slaw, fruit, cookies and chips.) The menu was thoughful but too cumbersome to serve quickly. Hungry people are not happy people. Have the charming car attendants tell about the area. Make it interesting for passengers.
Written June 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Elizabeth - I am sorry to hear of your experience at the opening weekend of our 7th season of concerts at the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. We had planned to try some new things and your review has shown us that those things need more attention to perfect. Thank you for taking the time, your suggestions are very helpful and have been sent verbatim to management. We'd love to welcome you back to experience another concert later in the season if you wish. Please e-mail me at MunleyS@Premierrails.com and let me know if that would be of interest to you and 3 guests. Again, thank you for your response and we hope to live up to your expectations next time!
Written June 17, 2014
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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