Rocky Mountaineer train travel comes to Southwestern United States
Grab your bag and hop on board a luxury train that will take you from Moab to Denver. This multi-day Rocky Mountaineer train trip will have you jumping out of your seat – with your camera. On this train ride, there is a scenic picture waiting for you at ever bend. If this is your first time experiencing Moab, Utah, Glenwood Springs or Denver, Colorado you are in for a treat. If you’ve driven this colorful stretch of highway or rafted the Colorado River before, you haven’t experienced the Colorado River from the vantage point of a luxury train.
Rockies to Red Rocks; ultimate Rocky Mountaineer luxury train travel
What’s a luxury train holiday like? I’ve been fortunate to experience several Rocky Mountaineer Canadian train journeys. However, this was my first vacation with Rocky Mountaineer train travel in the Southwestern United States. The Canadian-based rail company typically travels on Western Canada tracks. Due to the Corona Virus pandemic the luxury train company was forced to think outside the boxcar. In search of new US-based rail routes Rockies to the Red Rocks was born. The train route, in partnership with Union Pacific, from Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah, or visa versa, is the newest offering to hit the Southwest.
What to expect on Rocky Mountaineer train
What’s the difference between Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train travel and the USA-based adventure? You can expect the same luxury experience in Canada and the Southwest United States. Rocky Mountaineer delivers first-class service when it comes to scenery, travel comfort on the train cars, dining and luggage delivery.
Currently there are two types of service offered on Rockies to Red Rocks Rocky Mountaineer train routes. For me, the difference between SilverLeaf service and SilverLeaf Plus service was the unlimited premium alcohol served in the two bar cars and rail car. SilverLeaf Plus guests also had access to a private lounge car, as well as more vestibules.
My husband and I selected the SilverLeaf Plus service, not because we are big drinkers, it was about the vestibules. For me, it was more about having access to 6 vestibules – the enclosed rail platforms between each rail car. The vestibules were ideal for taking pictures and videos, as well as a place to take in the fresh mountain air. On the platforms there were no glass reflections from inside the glass-domed rail car.
Rockies to the Red Rocks luxury train travel
We were seated in our rail car, seats 19 and 20, with our friends seated directly across from us. Everyone had access to huge picture windows in the glass-dome luxury rail cars from the comfort of their seat. The seats reclined and offered foot rests. Netted pockets in the seats in front of us held menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A newsletter with maps and descriptions of the Rockies to the Red Rocks route was also available.
Speaking of Rocky Mountaineer meals, on our train trip we enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner over 2 days. There were options for meat-eaters and vegetarians. Breakfast is always a treat for me, as I’m not typically a breakfast eater unless its a leisurely meal. My breakfast of croissant and fresh fruit wild mountain berry parfait was tasty. My husband enjoyed the golden waffle with local berries, bacon and New England maple syrup.
Lunch and dinner were delicious, as well, and the brownies from Aspen Baking Company were sinfully good. Did I mentioned that alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were available throughout the train journey? Baileys and coffee in hand, we glided by a pair of eagles perched in a tree be the side of the railroad tracks.
Our story-telling guides were busy sharing facts about the Continental Divide, Moffat Tunnel history and Gore Canyon with its towering cliffs when we spotted more wildlife. Everyone on the train joined in on the search for animals and birds, but it’s the scenery that was the show-stopper and constant companion of this luxury train trip.
Disconnecting on Rockies to the Red Rocks trip
There were electronic outlets for charging your phone, however there was no wifi service on board and limited cellphone coverage. This is a scenic train route along the Colorado River with luxury service. It’s not about being electronically connected; unless you choose to open a laptop or Kindle during the daylight ride. If you are anxious to share your adventures with friends, you’ll have to wait to upload your photos in the evening. For this adventure, Facebook and Instagram posts will have to wait until dark.
Truthfully, I found being disconnected from my phone and computer relaxing. It’s good to put down the phone and visit with friends when you travel. We enjoyed the carefree (and car-free) aspect of train travel from Moab to Denver with no driving distractions.
Denver to Moab or Moab to Denver
The two day Rocky Mountaineer train route was offered in either direction; Moab to Denver or Denver to Moab with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Travelers wanting to experience more of the Southwestern United States should opt for Rocky Mountaineer travel packages. Guests may extend their stay to Las Vegas, Nevada or Salt Lake City, Utah.
If I had more time to extend my travel, I’d request an entire day at Glenwood Springs. This Wild West town was home to Doc Holiday – the dentist turned-gambler was laid to rest at Pioneer Cemetery. Today, Glenwood Springs is a resort town with one of the largest natural hot springs. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take advantage of this Colorado Rockies gem.
Where to stay in Moab
We flew into Denver, Colorado and took a puddle jumper plane to Canyonlands Airport in Moab, Utah. We reserved transportation from the airport to our Moab hotel with Moab Express. During our September visit there were limited options for rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber. There were several Moab hotels for Rocky Mountaineer guests. We stayed at Element Hotel Moab. Read my Moab hotel review here.
Fellow passengers Rand and Susan Chritton of Lafayette, California enjoyed their downtown Moab hotel as the location allowed them to explore downtown.
“We loved the Huckleberry ice cream at The Spoke on Center and the smoothies and juice at Gloria’s Corner Cafe, as well as Miguel Baja Grill,” said Susan Chritton.
Where to stay at Glenwood Springs
We stayed at the historic Hotel Denver for our overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Rocky Mountaineer train passengers were given their Glenwood Springs hotel assignment when they checked-in on the night prior to boarding the train in either Moab or Denver, depending on your chosen route.
Your luggage will have been loaded on the train that travel day. You won’t see, or touch your luggage, until that evening in Glenwood Springs. Keep that in mind for daytime travel on the train. I recommend a backpack or purse to keep any reading materials, as well as your phone, camera and charging cables. If you need medications or a jacket, carry them with you on the train.
Check-in to your hotel should be a seamless experience with your luggage waiting for you in your hotel room. You’ll have time to walk downtown Glenwood Springs or take a quick dip at the Glenwood Hot Springs. The next morning you’ll have breakfast on the train, as well as lunch, depending on your route.
What to do in Denver, Colorado
If you haven’t visited Denver, Colorado before, I’d recommend adding a couple of days to your pre or post Rocky Mountaineer train travel. Denver is an exciting city with plenty of things to see and do. From strolling the Platte River Trail by Confluence Park, to mural walks or museum stops, Denver has got it going on.
For a great view of the city skyline, visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Head up to the Sky Terrace, looking out to Ferril Lake. The Ferril Lake Loop is 1.2 miles and a great place to get some exercise in Denver.
Where to stay in Denver, Colorado
We stayed at Hotel Indigo Denver in downtown Colorado. Not only was it a clean, hip hotel, it was ideally situated near the Denver Union Station. From Denver Union Station we purchased our RDT Rail tickets to the Denver Airport. Look for the A Line track 1 to Denver Airport. Allow extra time to arrive at this 1914 Beaux-Arts building. You’ll thank me later, as the Denver Union Station is an historic train station and very beautiful.
What to wear on your Rocky Mountain train trip
Depending on what time of year you travel onboard Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to the Red Rocks route, you’ll want to dress for the weather. I recommend flat shoes no matter what time of year you travel. You’ll be walking from your seat to the vestibule, bar car or bathroom. Flat shoes are a safe bet for moving between train cars. The train will sway while it moves down the tracks. Riding the Rocky Mountaineer train is a bit like acquiring your “sea legs” on a ship. You may feel like you are still moving when you disembark at the train station, but you will quickly adjust.
Mobility challenged train travel
While I am not mobility challenged, I have been asked about the accessibility of Rocky Mountaineer train travel. I spoke with Rocky Mountaineer Senior Onboard Manager Wendy McMichael about accessible travel on the train. With advance notice, the rail cars are able to accommodate wheelchairs, depending on their width. Seats within the glass-domed railcars may be removed to make way for wheelchairs.
I know from personal experience on the Rocky Mountaineer Canadian trains that GoldLeaf Service has an elevator in the railcar to accommodate wheelchairs from the first to second level. Again, I was not the physically challenged passenger. I witnessed a wheelchair user on the train in Canada use the lift, as well as the dining car without problems.
For additional Rocky Mountaineer train travel tips or what it’s like to travel by luxury train in Canada, click on the link for the highlighted article.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Rocky Mountaineer Rockies to the Red Rocks. All opinions on this Moab to Denver Rocky Mountaineer train travel trip are my own.