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Colorado on Film: The Royal Gorge Route Railroad

Image the Harry Potter train chugging along through Colorado’s largest canyon. Well, to a slight degree this is fully possible when you ride the Royal Gorge Train.

When my family visited back in June 2021, I wanted to check of a huge Colorado bucket list item. This seemed like the perfect “Wow!” experience to impress my out of state family members on their first visit to this beautiful state! So I booked us 6:30PM “Twilight” departure tickets for the Royal Gorge Railroad.

A brief overview on this day’s itinerary: We took off from the Boulder area to Colorado Springs (~1 1/2 hour drive) to visit Garden of the Gods (a place deserving of its own post). After a leisurely visit, we continued on the hour drive to Cañon City. We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare, so we waited around and I changed into semi-nicer clothing. Finally, it was time to start boarding.

You head to your gate number, wait in line, take a green-screen photo that you can purchase later on, and then board the train!

So let’s talk general information:

There are four departure times in a day and four classes you can book: Vista Dome, Coach, Deluxe, and First Class. Basically, you can choose your level of fanciness. We booked the Coach car for $78.40 a ticket (with fees). Once aboard the train, we ordered an early dinner from the server taking care of our car. The food wasn’t anything too crazy or memorable, and it was slightly overpriced (of course), but it was a nice experience. To be honest, though, I would probably skip out on the dinner and just order adult beverages to enjoy from the open-air car.

Okay, here is the really important part: Where you sit matters. The route through the canyon is the same route back to the station. Therefor, the views you have on the way out are also the views you have on the way back. Facing the take-off direction, I would suggest sitting on the right side of the train. If you sit on the left side, you will spend quite a bit of time seeing electrical wires and old advertisement signs. If you’re lucky the train won’t be full so you can bounce back and forth between seats for the best views.

Of course, the open-air car is the best part about the Royal Gorge train. I would suggest getting up there early in the ride as it gets pretty full once most people have eaten. This is your time to really soak in the incredible views! Keep your eyes open for the white water rafters and the Royal Gorge Bridge! Plan some extra time in the area and go for a walk on the “highest and most famous suspension bridge in America.

Okay, let’s talk camera and film details. These were all taken on a Minolta Explorer Freedom Zoom on Kodak Gold 200 (one of my favorite combos). This tiny but mighty camera doesn’t do the best with fast moving items, unfortunately (rafting photo) but it still produces some clear, vivid results. Here is another post of this dreamy combo: Summer Camping.

In Conclusion: Would I go again?

I would go again, but there are a couple things I would do differently.

  1. I would go on an earlier ride. The Twilight service was lovely due to the sunset, but it gets darker earlier in the canyon so on the way back to the station it was complete darkness. I think it would be really worth the price if you could see the views both on the way out and back.
  2. I would skip the dinner service and maybe even the Coach car altogether. I would just take a snack with me or make sure I eat a good lunch beforehand so I don’t get hungry halfway through. Instead, I would spent the time in open-air car soaking in the views.
  3. I would stay overnight in the area. The drive back to the Boulder area was long. Three hours long.

Also, I do think it would be serene to see the views during winter. I just picture the snow falling over the canyon and a cup of hot chocolate in my hands. Ah…sounds toasty.

Well, that’s all I have for now, friends.

I have two rolls of film I haven’t developed yet and two more rolls in different cameras. With a few more Colorado adventures planned for summer, I’ll be back to posting soon.

Until next time!

-Mary A

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