I did not know what to expect when my husband and I stepped aboard the D&S.
We loved it!! Coal cinders and all. For those people who except lots of comfort don't take the train at all. This train ride is for people who want to experience what it was like for the people living in the back county YEARS ago. The views where breathtaking to say the least. Granted you are not in the highest area of the Rockies so don't think you are going to see views from 20,000 feet with soaring mountains. What you do see is the Animas River running swiftly in many areas, rock walls so close you can touch them (not allowed, you may lose an arm!) . It is stunning scenery you can't descibe!
Would I do it again--YES YES---open car both ways!!!
I loved the laid back pioneer feel of the entire day! Since we decided to take the train both ways we brought books in case we were bored. We never opened them. The time went quickly. We expected the back and forth movement of the old narrow gauge railroad. But we were anchored down on the tracks so the movement didn't cause my usual motion sickness that I get on planes and boats. We had a sweet visit in Silverton. The restaurants all had a history. There were saloons and former brothels, the streets were old and authentic and if it weren't for the cars, I would have felt I was in a western movie. I remember taking the train about 15 years ago and I only took it one way and got a ride back to Durango. That was nice too, but there was something about relaxing and not having to do anything else that was so enjoyable and peaceful. The ride was exactly three and one half hours each way. There is a two hour stay in Silverton. Theres a concession car with a bar that had wonderful marguerita specials. The staff seem to be long term seasoned employees. Young and older. They know all about the area and the train ride and seem to really enjoy their jobs. I'm trying to think of something I didn't like and it was probably only the cost of the ticket. If you're going to Durango, it's worth the ticket!
My wife and I rode the train from Durango to Silverton & back. We really enjoyed it. The views are incredible and the train reaches areas that only it or hikers can access.
My only suggestion would be to take the available bus back. It is much quicker and a more comfortable trip. However, you must schedule this option when you purchase your original ticket.
We fell in love with Durango and have made several trips back.
My wife and I have been planning this trip for over one year. All of the people setting around us were also equally excited. When we left the train station at Durango early that August mourning, we just knew this day was going to be very special. After about an hour and a half of sitting on a padded bench seat, constantly cleaning cinders out of both eyes and we realized that for almost two hours all we have done is travel 15 to 20 miles up a flat green valley next to the road to Silverton. We were certain that the next 20 miles would be breathtaking!
After 8+ hrs on the train, and 2 hrs in Silverton, I am sitting here writing this review telling you just what to expect when you ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The staff are friendly, the food is just ok, the train ride is Very Slow with a slightly nauseating jerky side to side motion. During the ride up you will be standing 90% of the time in anticipation of something very special to observe. But this really never happens! On the return trip, you will be mostly sitting down and wondering if this damm train will ever reach Durango. Those once joyous and jubilant passengers on the way up to Silverton, are now realizing that the D&SNGRR is nothing more than a very long train ride next to a river with trees and tall mountains on both sides of you. The Conductors must get tired of answering the question " How Much Longer?". The cinders are everywhere. At times, the sky reminds me of when I used to live in So. California. My eyes took about a week to feel normal again. Sunglasses help, but cinders still find their way into your eyes. Your camera will be filthy. Your ears and nose will have enough silt in them to grow corn. Once you split from the main road and enter the very narrow V shaped canyon, you travel the next 20 miles next to a small river to Silverton. When someone yelled out "Silverton!" , I was relieved and disappointed at the same time.
In summary, if riding a coal, steam powered train is something you have always wanted to do, do it! Don't expect much more than a Very long train ride, that is rough and dirty. The views are just average. What I really enjoyed, was hearing the engine chugging along with the black silt pouring out of the smokestack. It gave me the sense of what it must of been like riding a train back in the1800s. Take the trip to Silverton ONLY! Take the bus back to Durango- even though they charge you $12 more for the bus ride than they do for the return by train. Or better yet, find a steam powered train to ride somewhere that doesn't have you always saying to yourself " Will we ever get there?".
Fantastic day out. Breathtaking scenery. Time lock experience. Great lunch in Silverton. Buy the guide. We thought it was all sensational tourist value for money. Also thought we had a severe case of dandruff; steam is not the cleanest form, but this is really no problem - its a day of high adventure not a fashion parade!
My family really enjoyed this trip! We had such wonderful weather, a little cool, but not cold. The snacks were reasonably priced and the ride was enjoyable. A note for families with younger children, the round trip train is a long ride! My two year old did pretty well, but she was sick of the train by the end (7 hours on train total).
I greatly enjoyed my trip on the train up to Silverton and took the train back to Durango. This was both to save time and get a different view on the way home. If I could do it again I would have taken the train both ways and figured out the rest of the trip later.
Do not wear white and ALWAYS wear glasses. Even with my sunglasses on I got some soot in my eye but it was near the end and I was in an open car.
Do take the open car as several great pictures were taken with me leaning out the side a little.
Bring a jacket. I went in May and it was warm in Durango and hailing in Silverton.
Bring extra film or batteries. I drained the battery on my digital half way into the trip and had to use my friend's camera.
Be prepared to stand. All the seats in the open car were sold and since I was younger I stood to allow the older folks to sit. My friend and I said we would take turns sitting but we were slowly edged out of our seats. I am sure if we had asked room would have been made but instead we just stood.
We went because my wife is a train buff. I took a book to read on the trip. I figured 2+ hours up 2+ hours back, I'd be bored.
I never opened the book once. We enjoyed it so much, 2 years later we took my father-in-law to experience it.
Fun for the whole family with excellent scenery. Silverton can be cool bring a sweatshirt or jacket for the 3 hours there. Nice to give a day of driving to someone else, relaxing. Would definitely go again in the future.
We were waiting to be picked up by the train after a week of backpacking when an earlier train came by and stopped for us. Even though they weren't scheduled to pick up backpackers, it was raining so they made an unscheduled stop for us and found seats for us where they could rather than leave us in the rain. The crew went out of their way to take care of us.
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