From the Colorado Rockies to Utah’s purple rocks: All aboard one of many solely luxurious trains within the US

For greater than 200 years, vacationers have been exploring the world by rail. I’ve all the time been drawn to that legacy given the leisurely tempo, compelled rest and scenic views alongside the best way. Prepare journey may be peaceable, timeless and romantic in a method flying may by no means be.

In fact, many practice traces within the U.S., together with these inside Amtrak’s community and the New York Metropolis subway system, hardly ever belong in the identical sentence because the phrase romantic. Others, nonetheless, comparable to Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to the Pink Rocks route, which launched in 2021, are designed to embrace that distinct magic of rail journey as you weave by way of towering mountainscapes and hanging sandstone rock formations.

Ever since that route connecting Colorado and Utah was first introduced, I have been dreaming of mixing my love of practice journey and the American West with the high-end service and outsized home windows which have made Rocky Mountaineer — a luxurious practice firm recognized for its scenic practice journeys in Canada — such an iconic journey model.

However as a result of the route is seasonal, costly and not likely geared towards households, the journey appeared unlikely to happen anytime quickly.

That’s, till destiny intervened.

When my colleague Melanie Lieberman (who’s simply as enamored with trains as I’m) and I had been invited by Rocky Mountaineer to attempt the route on one of many practice’s final journeys of the 2022 season, we jumped on the probability to tick this expertise off our bucket lists. We counted down the times till our departure date, and earlier than lengthy, we discovered ourselves climbing aboard Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to the Pink Rocks practice on a crisp mid-October morning to start the two-day journey from Denver to Moab, Utah.


From the standard all-aboard name to the distinctive onboard service, it is protected to say the expertise exceeded our expectations. Here is what Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to the Pink Rocks journey was like so you’ll be able to determine if it is the proper match in your subsequent journey within the American West.

Associated: Methods to plan your 1st luxurious practice journey

The fee

Earlier than we get to the sweeping vistas, let’s speak chilly, laborious money. In spite of everything, it is a luxurious practice journey.

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Not like the standard practice rides chances are you’ll be used to, the Rockies to the Pink Rocks journey prices a sizeable quantity. As such, you may wish to make it a focus of your journey as a substitute of merely utilizing it as a strategy to get from level A to level B.

At the moment, costs for subsequent season begin round $1,336 per particular person (primarily based on double occupancy) when factoring in a promotion that applies a small low cost. Your practice ticket consists of the journey itself plus onboard meals and drinks (two breakfasts, one lunch, snacks and drinks) and an in a single day keep at a lodge in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. If you happen to’re touring solo, or do not wish to share your lodge room together with your journey companion(s), know that your beginning value can be greater.


For this Rocky Mountaineer route, you may have your choose of two courses of service: SilverLeaf and SilverLeaf Plus. With the elevated SilverLeaf Plus possibility, which prices about $500 extra per particular person, you may get pleasure from every part obtainable to passengers who guide the usual SilverLeaf class, plus upgraded native alcohol picks and entry to lounge automobiles with bars, so you’ll be able to unfold out and wander across the practice a bit extra throughout your time on the tracks.

Must you determine to splurge (much more) on this expertise, you’ll be able to go for certainly one of Rocky Mountaineer’s extra in depth (and pricier) packages that embrace resorts and even excursions in and round Denver, Moab and even Las Vegas and Salt Lake Metropolis.


However for those who’re on the alternative finish of the spectrum and would relatively discover a strategy to trim prices, know that there’s a method you’ll be able to pay in your journey with rewards. You should utilize fixed-value bank card factors and miles, comparable to these from the Capital One Enterprise Rewards Credit score Card, to pay your self again after charging your journey to your chosen card.

Associated: The very best bank cards to make use of for practice journey

The practice

Boarding the practice is a legitimately thrilling expertise.

After arriving at an empty practice depot close to Denver’s Union Station, we scampered round to take footage and movies from each angle we may discover as we waited for the boarding course of to start.

Simply because it occurs in all my goals about driving trains, one of many hosts shouted “All aboard!” and we made our strategy to the practice. We crossed the purple carpet set out for passengers, handed the American and Colorado flags on show by the doorway and virtually ran up the steps to see what lay inside.


Primary automobile

The media automobile we had been assigned seats in had partitions of home windows that instantly caught our eye. Surrounding the 56 seats — which had been organized in pairs, with 4 seats per row — had been home windows that curved proper as much as the ceiling, providing you with an almost floor-to-ceiling view of the beautiful surroundings exterior.


As for the seats themselves, Melanie and I shortly found that they recline by sliding ahead inside their shell, so you do not have to fret about disturbing vacationers sitting within the row behind you while you lean again.


The seats had been lots snug for a full day of driving the rails, with padded headrests and ample legroom. Every pair of seats had two shops, and there have been giant tray tables able to holding meals, refreshments and even a laptop computer.

Lounge automobiles

As soon as we obtained a lay of the land in our media automobile, we wandered from automobile to automobile to take a look at the scene. Many of the passengers gave the impression to be {couples} and teams of buddies of their 60s and 70s celebrating life’s huge moments like anniversaries and retirements. Though we had been informed that there are sometimes youthful households on board, we did not see any children on our practice.

On our journey, there have been two lounge automobiles obtainable to vacationers with SilverLeaf Plus reservations on this journey. Every had its personal feel and look.


The primary lounge supplied Outdated West vibes because of wooden accents and a self-playing piano. There have been just a few basic board video games, too, that you may play whereas seated on both aspect of the automobile. The decor created a heat, homey really feel that felt like the proper complement to our environment, making it my favourite of the 2.

The opposite lounge seemed solely totally different. It felt extra like a conventional airline lounge, because it featured a recent gray-and-blue colour scheme, smooth leather-based chairs and a few couches. On the again was a stone bar that we visited on a number of events for drinks.


After trying out the lounges, we peeked contained in the loos. Unsurprisingly, the accessible loos had been considerably bigger than the common restrooms, however all of them had been extra spacious than what you may discover on most flights.


There was a conceit reverse the bathroom that was stocked with the fundamentals, together with tissues, cleaning soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels. Moreover, two partitions had mirrors, so you may simply clean up whereas on the go.

The meals and repair

As soon as the service will get rolling, it is protected to say you will not go hungry whereas on this practice. Nevertheless, on that first morning, you may wish to pack a lightweight snack because the scheduled departure is not till 9 a.m., with the hosts beginning to take orders round 9:30 a.m.



After a mimosa toast to begin, we had been supplied a domestically baked blueberry rating to kick off our morning. It was so completely tender, heat and sugary that we requested for seconds, which our host gladly delivered.


For the breakfast entree, you’ll be able to select from three dishes. I went with the vegetarian wild mountain berry parfait with home made cinnamon almond granola, which additionally got here with a croissant.

Total, I loved the meal, however it was the thought that went into the menu that actually stood out. Rocky Mountaineer’s dedication to utilizing domestically sourced gadgets as a lot as doable was spectacular, and the onboard group’s willingness to make changes to accommodate dietary restrictions as a lot as doable was commendable. For instance, even the gadgets that appeared like they might not be vegetarian-friendly might be modified upon request to incorporate veggie options.


Our breakfast the subsequent day was equally memorable. It kicked off with espresso and one other native pastry — this time, a cinnamon twist deal with from Candy Coloradough in Glenwood Springs — that stored us content material whereas the primary programs made their method round.


Eager to attempt one thing a little bit extra over-the-top this time round, I opted for probably the most indulgent menu merchandise I’ve ever seen earlier than midday: a strata bake that includes what was primarily French toast produced from croissant dough that was topped with raspberry, sugar and granola. It got here with a few sausage hyperlinks, an orange slice and maple syrup on the aspect, do you have to want much more sweetness.

Regardless of the sugary nature of the dish, every part was in stability. It was an incredible plate of meals that I might order once more.


Melanie’s breakfast, the Colorado frittata, was much less sugar-laden however equally tasty. The frittata sat on a mattress of roasted yams, with a trio of roasted peppers and onions on high. On the aspect had been a few veggie sausage patties she requested as an alternative to common sausage hyperlinks.


Suffice it to say, Rocky Mountaineer’s breakfast was a real delight. I completely loved my breakfasts, a lot in order that I needed to resort to stretchy pants for a bit once I obtained dwelling.

Lunch and hors d’oeuvres

For lunch, which is simply served on the primary day, I ordered the lighter of the 2 choices since I used to be nonetheless a little bit full from breakfast. The baked rooster got here with an apricot glaze and was served with polenta, broccolini and a roll.

Not like breakfast, lunch was much less thrilling. Whereas it was removed from unhealthy, it definitely wasn’t my favourite meal. Reheated rooster is just reheated rooster, regardless of the way you, er, glaze it.


Nevertheless, the chocolate torte dessert made in a bakery in Centennial, Colorado, was delectable. It was the proper decadent deal with to get pleasure from noon.


Since our closing day was the shortest of the 2 spent on the practice, Rocky Mountaineer supplied hors d’oeuvres instead of lunch. For our journey, that meant Southwest rooster flautas in a citrus habanero sauce.


A lot to my shock, the hors d’oeuvres had been distinctive in comparison with the lackluster rooster. The flautas had been hearty and filled with taste, and so they paired completely with the house-made margarita I picked up from the adjoining lounge automobile. There was additionally a veggie possibility just like tamales that obtained rave critiques from Melanie.


Although Rocky Mountaineer would not skimp on the parts for essential meals, there are snacks available between meals if you end up wanting one thing to nibble.


Within the lounges was a choice of snack combine and chocolate-drizzled popcorn to seize as you happy, and wraps and skewers had been put out within the afternoon. Every little thing we sampled was tasty, although we stored our grazing to a minimal since we had been full from the onboard meals.



To scrub down meals served on the practice, Rocky Mountaineer presents an array of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. Prepare fares cowl wine, beer and blended drinks (plus nonalcoholic choices), although there are some restrictions for many who did not choose the upgraded SilverLeaf Plus service class.


Your automobile’s host will come by way of with a beverage cart stocked with varied choices, together with some from the Colorado Cellars vineyard that you’ll cross as you close to the border between Colorado and Utah.


I heard nothing however reward for the Bloody Mary, which was a preferred order through the morning hours of our journey, particularly amongst those that made their strategy to the lounge automobiles.


I definitely did not log any complaints about my margarita, both, which I sipped on as we approached Moab through the closing stretch of our journey.


The surroundings

A giant motive why we wished to trip the rails with Rocky Mountaineer was the views — and, as I confirmed on this journey, it is unimaginable for Colorado and Utah to not take your breath away.

We had been gifted with fabulous surroundings, together with beautiful gold foliage. The practice automobile would fill with collective oohs and aahs as we shared within the splendor of the passing landscapes. We could not consider it stored getting higher — however it did.


Within the first few hours of the journey, you may catch a glimpse of the Huge 10 flip, the place you’ll be able to see the practice automobiles behind you coming across the bend as you wind by way of the wooded mountains. This earlier section of the route can also be while you cross the Continental Divide.


In Colorado, we got here throughout hikers in addition to rafters mooning passing trains; an surprising sight we had been informed is a time-honored custom. It could not have been on the brochure, however it served as a comical break from recognizing eagles, elk, chipmunks, deer and different creatures as we made our strategy to Moab.


The surroundings modified fairly dramatically each hour or two, so that you definitely will not tire of what you see exterior. I cherished that the onboard hosts periodically informed tales in regards to the sights or the realm’s historical past as nicely.


For instance, certainly one of my favourite tales was a few household that lives close to the Moffitt Tunnel. They often come exterior to wave on the practice when it passes, and Rocky Mountaineer workers took discover. So, after quite a few journeys, the practice stopped to present the household Rocky Mountaineer merchandise — after which organized for them to trip the practice from there to Moab and again, freed from cost.

It was tales like these, coupled with the stating of easy-to-miss particulars, such because the Colorado-Utah state line that is indicated on a rock wall the practice passes, that made the practice trip that rather more memorable.


The whistle stops

The expertise on board could also be the primary draw of this expertise, however you would be remiss for those who did not maximize your time on the stops alongside the best way.


Chances are you’ll not technically depart from Denver’s Union Station, however it’s a grand place to start your journey, because it’s stunning to take a look at and simple to achieve from Denver Worldwide Airport (DEN).


You will discover a variety of resorts on this a part of city. We stayed at The Rally Resort, which has a baseball theme impressed by close by Coors Area, a high Denver landmark you’ll be able to see from the rooftop.

The Rally Resort was a terrific place to mattress down, because it was walkable to Union Station and lots of downtown Denver bars and eating places. We cherished the theming, too.

Nevertheless, you do not have to guide your personal lodging. Rocky Mountaineer’s upgraded packages embrace a keep at a downtown lodge comparable to The Crawford Resort, an possibility conveniently situated inside Union Station.

Glenwood Springs

Even for those who solely guide the practice journey, you’ll nonetheless spend an evening in a lodge in Glenwood Springs, because the practice doesn’t journey at night time and lacks sleeper automobiles. The identical is true for different Rocky Mountaineer routes in Canada.

We arrived on the Glenwood Springs station round 4:40 p.m., leaving us a number of hours to get out and discover the city. Complimentary coaches had been obtainable to switch passengers to the resorts Rocky Mountaineer had booked for the in a single day go to, although the properties had been solely a 10- to 12-minute stroll away. Whether or not you stroll or take the bus, your baggage can be ready for you while you get to your room.


The following morning you allow your baggage in your room and it seems at your closing vacation spot. This terrified me a bit, so I put an AirTag in to keep watch over it, however it all labored out effective, and my suitcase adopted me alongside for the rest of the journey.

If you end up itching to stretch your legs and see the realm, you’ll be able to simply get a stable overview of Glenwood Springs because of its compact (and walkable) downtown. One must-do you will not wish to miss is trying out the city’s namesake scorching springs, that are mentioned to be the world’s largest mineral scorching springs swimming pools.


Open till 9 p.m., the new springs had been shockingly busy on the random Wednesday night time we visited, so do not anticipate to have the swimming pools to your self, even for those who go late. An added bonus is that you will obtain a wristband at your assigned lodge to get complimentary entry, so that you needn’t fear about shelling out extra to go to.

After our soak within the scorching springs, we grabbed dinner close by. A lot to our shock, most locations we thought-about had a wait, so attempt to snag a reservation earlier than you arrive to keep away from any delays. We ultimately settled on an Italian restaurant, Brava Fashionable Trattoria, earlier than retreating to our lodge for the night time.


Of the three resorts in Glenwood Springs that Rocky Mountaineer books for visitors — Resort Colorado, The Resort Denver and Glenwood Sizzling Springs Lodge — we had been assigned the lodge, which sounded thrilling however was dated. The lodge’s rooms had been darkish and drained, with decor that might have been beautiful for my grandparents about three many years in the past.

However, it was an OK place to spend an evening. Had we had a later departure time (we wanted to be on the practice by 6:45 a.m.) and extra time to linger on the lodge, I might need been extra dissatisfied by the selection of lodging.


Not like Denver and Glenwood Springs, while you arrive in Moab round 12:30 or 1 p.m., you aren’t at a centrally situated practice station. Due to this, Rocky Mountaineer will shuttle you into city.


Moab is thought for its out of doors actions, so whether or not you determine to discover by yourself or join an official tour, you may wish to carve out time for exploring the realm’s pure sights. Useless Horse Level State Park, Canyonlands Nationwide Park and Arches Nationwide Park are all a brief drive from city.

You may simply see these parks throughout scenic drives, however odds are you are visiting Moab to get your arms (and garments) soiled. The realm is a famend vacation spot for every part from mountain climbing and mountain biking to mountain climbing and off-roading.

Must you need assist planning your adventures in Moab, contemplate a tour clothing store like Utah Luxurious Excursions. This firm supplied bus excursions of the realm for our group and also can craft customized itineraries for those who do not wish to fear in regards to the logistics when you arrive.

Associated: Discover Utah’s nationwide parks with TPG’s information to the ‘Mighty 5’

After spending a number of hours mountain climbing to jaw-dropping rock formations, we had been past able to crash at our lodge. Fortunately, the property Rocky Mountaineer booked for us in Moab (the identical one utilized in a lot of its packages, the Hoodoo Moab, Curio Assortment by Hilton) was distinctive.


From the rooms to the pool, this Hilton outpost — which you’ll be able to keep at by way of a Rocky Mountaineer bundle or by yourself with money or Hilton Honors factors — punched above its weight. It was very clear and trendy, providing a number of fashionable locations to unwind after an energetic day exterior.

Backside line

There are lots of cheaper and quicker methods to get from Denver to Moab, however you do not guide the Rocky Mountaineer to easily transfer from one vacation spot to the subsequent. As an alternative, you reserve a seat on the Rockies to the Pink Rocks path to embark on a memorable journey very like those loved earlier than cellphones and the web.

In case your major aim is to get to your subsequent location as quickly as doable, then this Rocky Mountaineer journey might not be well worth the splurge.


However for those who worth experiences that drive you to decelerate, get pleasure from your environment and share tales with buddies previous and new, odds are you may love this luxury tackle a practice trip by way of the mountains. Melanie and I most definitely did.

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