Colorado has a beautiful, vibrant fall – the sharp gold of the Aspen against stark Evergreen and the sharp blue sky. It’s stunning, and seeing it from a car or staying on highways and roads doesn’t due justice to the incredible beauty of our state. No, we wanted an accessible way to get a little closer to nature, and the Georgetown Loop railroad was the perfect answer.
What we discovered is the railroad isn’t just a breathtaking ride through the Colorado mountain tops. it’s a nostalgic journey through history that takes you back to a time when steam engine whistles echoed through virgin mountain valleys and train conductors welcomed the ever expanding tide of westward expansion.
Only a 45-minute drive from Denver, this is a perfect spontaneous day trip that grants accessibility to the mountains. The day we visited was busy, even the handicapped parking was full and the parking was fairly substantial. With Dre’s scooter we were able to park along the roadway that leads up to the ticket booth.
This leads us to our first tip – give yourself time if you’re heading up on a weekend.
If you get there early you can take a look in the store, stroll along the creek, grab a beverage and enjoy one of our many days of sunshine, but it’s worth the time to be a little early!
Getting to the train was simple. We had pre-purchased our tickets online (second tip – great idea to pre-purchase tickets,) and had indicated we needed accessible seating in our purchase. Tickets pricing is on their website depending on age and what trip your choose to do. The Devil’s Gate Station, named for the towering bridge, is located in Georgetown. The pavement outside of the ticket booth area is brick and a little bumpy at spots, but the overall trip to the train itself is simple and smooth. A wide pedestrian bridge over Clear Creek leads visitors to the boarding platform. We were able to wait for the train on the accessible loading platform, which allowed us a great view of the train pulling into the station.
The accessible seating is right in the entrance doorways and we were allowed to board first. The only hiccup was that the lip of the train boarding platform is a little thick and caught Dre’s chair. We had a delay due to mechanical issues, and I have to say, I personally found it highly entertaining when the engineer came walking along the train platform with a large metal pipe in his hand asking the conductors if anyone had seen his wrench. Maybe it wouldn’t have been funny if we’d been trying to get somewhere on time, but it was fantastic.
Third tip – give yourself some time to enjoy the day.
When we got going we got exactly what we had come for. Running along winding Clear Creek, the train crosses the creek four times during the journey, the most awe inspiring coming as you cross the bridge. 600 feet above the valley below, the trip over the bridge opens up the entire sky. There is no other way to get this view and it’s a blessing to anyone who has the opportunity to make the trip, able bodied or not. Continuing on the way to Silver Plume, the train cuts straight into the heart of the mountains, hugging up against sheer rock and curled into lush evergreen. The aspen had just started to change colors, shifting from soft green to soft yellow the entirety of the trip. Pockets of vibrant gold dotted the hilltops above us, sprinkling into the green and blue.
That brings us to our fourth tip – make sure you have your camera!
Arriving at the top, we continued our trip through history with a stop at the Silver Plume station, which houses the train museum. The train only stays for about ten minutes before heading back down, but if your interest is hitting the museum, you can start and end your trip in Silver Plume.
On our way back down the mountain, a man in a wheel chair boarded with us, which meant we boarded last so we could take the spot at the opposite door which was being used for boarding. Even though the train was packed full, the conductor and other passengers assured there was a seat next to the door so I could sit with Dre.
Coming back down was no less breath taking than the ride up and the conductor gave a more detailed description of the history of both the railroad and the local area. For those that are able bodied and interested, the train stopped to let people off for the Lebanon Mine Tour.
Finishing up our trip, it was a quick unboarding process and we were back on our way to Georgetown.
This leads us to our last tip – spend a little time in the area.
Feast your eyes. That’s what my mom always used to say when we’d head through the mountains. Georgetown itself is a quaint little down with a
bustling main street. There’s plenty of local vendors selling their wares, and it’s fun to give a little support to the local industry. Stopping at the bakery we grabbed some fresh baked bread then stopped by Georgetown lake to check out the handicapped accessible fishing pier. While we didn’t have the rods with us this particular day, Dre scouted it out for our next visit, and based on his assessment, we’ll be heading back.
While we were looking for a way to make the mountains more accessible, here’s the thing; the train an outstanding access points for all sorts of need. Perfect for families, great for history junkies, stunning for photographers , and a large variety of fun theme styled trips- there’s just no losing when you board the Georgetown Loop Railroad.
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