It's Thanksgiving, and the traditional opening of the Christmas season. Since trains and Christmas have a special relationship that's deeply ingrained in American culture, it's only natural that heritage and tourist railroads run special extras during this special time of the year. Demand is often so high that some trains sell out weeks in advance, so book your tickets without delay. Here is a list and a map of the trains that are scheduled to run in 2012:
Alamosa and the San Luis Valley
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
: North Pole Express
on Friday and Saturday nights until December 22, 2012. Train departs at 6:00 p.m. from the Alamosa depot
. Tickets are $15 for coach or upgrade to Club for $15 more per ticket. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas for a true North Pole Express experience
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Although there were preliminary plans for the railroad to run a Christmas train, the management change late this year has prevented the formation of any concrete plans. As of now, no Christmas trains for the C&TS. Maybe next year?
Royal Gorge Route Railroad
: Santa Express Train
departing Canon City every Friday, Saturday & Sunday at 6 pm November 16-30, then every evening at 6 pm December 1 & 2, 6-9, 13-26. There will also be special daily departures at noon on Dec 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15-24. No trains on Christmas day. Tickets start at $22 per child and $32 per adult with upgrades to dome class and first class available for the 90 minute round trip. Also, the Canon City and Royal Gorge is offering a New Year's Eve Dinner Train
Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway
: Santa Claus Special
Reservations by phone
at (719) 685-5401 with a credit card. Saturdays and Sundays, . Times vary but generally 9:30, 10:30 AM, 1:00 and 2:00 PM. Visit site to check specific dates and times as well as status. Several trains are already sold out. Make sure that your selection says Santa Claus Special, because regular trains will also be running on these days.
Colorado Railroad Museum
: Santa Claus Special – Steam-Up Event
on December 8, 15, 16 & 22, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The train runs every 30 minutes between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. with Colorado Railroad Museum’s locomotive and a team of historic passenger cars all decked out for the holidays. The Depot General Store will offer hot chocolate, and you can mail your letter to Santa at the RPO car.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Excursion: North Pole Express
, see featured video
, Friday, Saturday and Sundays at 5:15 and 6:50 PM through December 11, and daily December 13 - 28, 2012. An additional 8:25 PM departure is available Saturdays and then daily December 14 - 23, 2012. No trains run on Christmas Day. Tickets start at $28 per child and $38 per adult.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
: Santa's North Pole Adventure
, Saturdays and Sundays first three weeks of December, then December 17 - 24, 26 - 30, 2012 with departures at 10:00 & 11:15 AM, 12:30, 2:00, & 3:15 PM. Tickets start at $28.50 adults and $18.50 ages 3-15 for a one-hour round-trip train ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy complimentary hot chocolate, cookies, and candy canes, and the kids all take home a jingle bell ornament.
: Holiday Lights Train
4:30 PM on the same days as Santa's North Pole Adventure as well as Friday evenings. Tickets are $29.50 for adults and $20.50 ages 3-15. Santa and Mrs. Claus do not ride this train
: First Class Holiday Cheer Train
First three Fridays & Saturdays in December Tickets are $36.50 per person for 5:45 and 7:00 departures with heavy appetizers and hot drinks.
All departures weather permitting.
Complimentary hot chocolate at the Ticket Window
Use the map below for locations and directions
MAP: Colorado's Christmas Trains 2012
View Colorado Railroads Christmas Trains 2012 in a larger map
What is it that attracts us to Christmas trains?
I've asked myself many times why I am a railfan, and my only real conclusion is that people (men in particular) like big, noisy things that go fast. Something about all that mass and energy under control and guided by two lines of steel spiked down to the ground just holds my attention. It's the soot, steam and heat of a steam locomotive that provokes a certain sensory overload for me. The thrumming of a diesel as it works its way up a grade thrills me with a sense of awe and wonder. I even thrill to the sight of a caboose. I get very excited at the thought of riding a train ...any
That still doesn't explain why Christmas trains are so popular. Perhaps it's because Christmas was one time that taking a train meant something good, like going "Home For the Holidays
." Maybe it's the compound wonder of children for two very exciting things. Could it be something else? Comment in with your thoughts on why folks are attracted to Christmas trains!◊