Discover the American Southwest’s most spectacular sightseeing spots on the newest route, Rockies to the Red Rocks. Experience an abundance of awe-inspiring vistas including the incredible National Parks and Colorado; a sunny state carpeted in forests and plains and home to hot springs, sand dunes, mountains, and mesas (flat-topped mountains). Neighbouring state Utah also astounds with historic rugged red landscapes, ‘The Mighty 5’ National Parks, and spectacular scenery in the untouched backcountry of the American Southwest.
We’ve compiled a list of the places to look out for on our Rockies to the Red Rocks rail route that is guaranteed to spark your adventurous spirit! Running from Denver to Moab, and vice versa, this rail route is a spectacular two-day scenic journey that takes guests through the heart of the American Southwest from forests and hot springs to the desert and the Wild West.
Have a golden time in Denver
Elevate your sightseeing in the Mile High City of Denver, which boomed around the 1858 Colorado Gold Rush, and is now home to golden opportunities to visit bustling breweries, award-winning restaurants, and soak in sweeping views of the snow-capped peaks around the city. Mountainous Colorado is six times the size of Switzerland and Denver’s picturesque panorama shows 140 miles of majestic mountains that include 200 visible named peaks of the Rocky Mountains (32 of which soar over 13,000ft!). Pick one of the 200 city parks to visit, enjoy local art, or get your camera ready to capture the wonder of the famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre just outside of town (make sure you don’t miss these other attractions too!)
Soak up the history of Glenwood Springs
Delve into Glenwood Spring’s rich history of gunslinging, gangsters, and good time gals and discover a town originally called Defiance that is now a relaxing overnight stop on our Rockies to the Red Rocks rail route. When it comes to things to do in Glenwood Springs, this is not just your typical mountain town. Home to three hot springs, including the world’s largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool, you’ll find plenty of places to soak in the historic hot waters such as Glenwood Hot Springs, the Indigenous Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves, and the newest addition, Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Keep your cameras clicking for a ride through the majestic Glenwood Canyon, etched out by the powerful Colorado River, as the railway hugs the side of the steep canyon, giving a unique view of the epically engineered Interstate 70 on the other side.
Capture camera-worthy canyons
Sink into sightseeing from your seat and watch the wonder unfold as you journey through ever-changing landscapes like the verdant vineyards and fertile orchards in the Grand Valley where the winemaking industry is starting to bloom. It’s easy to spot flat-topped Mount Garfield (6,765 ft), overlooking the town of Palisade, as it’s the highest point of the Book Cliffs; a set of sandstone mountains that stretch nearly 200 miles from west to east.
Later you’ll see the deep red hue of Ruby Canyon, a jewel of the journey that stretches for 25 miles of spectacular sandstone cliffs only accessible by train or boat (or raft for thrill-seeking adventurous souls!). Located on the border of Colorado and Utah, this majestic colourful canyon is an introduction to the stunning surrounds of the National Parks and Utah’s other-worldly landscapes.
Adventure around Moab
Get a glimpse of the iconic 73,234-acre Arches National Park as you roll into Moab on the Rocky Mountaineer train and then spend a few days exploring the surrounding parks. Make time to explore Moab and adventure into some of ‘The Mighty 5’ National Parks that are on the doorstep of this small charming resort town. Here you’ll find warm hospitality amongst the resplendent red rocks and accessible adventures with short hikes into the sandstone and beautiful scenery around the cool waters of the Colorado River.
If you’re looking for things to do in Moab there are plenty of active adventures for all abilities from hiking, biking, and rafting to road trips and simply enjoying epic sunrises and sunsets amongst the sandstone splendor. The small town is also home to an abundance of microbreweries, restaurants, and galleries where you can fully enjoy Southwestern culture.
Explore ‘The Mighty 5’ National Parks
‘The Mighty 5’ include Arches National Park, where you’ll find road-accessible rock formations that feature the world’s largest density of natural sandstone arches (more than 2,000), as well as towers and pinnacles of natural stone wonders.
Situated along a high plateau at the top of the Grand Staircase, Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the world’s largest collection of hoodoos (rock columns) and is also the perfect place to go stargazing in the dark sky reserve. Red Canyon is a stand-out sight in Bryce Canyon – here the bright red rocks and Ponderosa pines make it a much-photographed place.
Each of the parks has its own special charm. Canyonlands is a colourful 527 square mile National Park that has been eroded by the Colorado and Green rivers into a canvas of canyons, arches, mesas, and buttes alongside the roaring rivers. Lesser-known Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem of cliffs, canyons, domes, and natural bridges that is situated on the geologic monocline Waterpocket Fold, which is a 100 mile ‘wrinkle’ on the earth that is 7,000ft higher in the west than in the east.
Rounding off the bucket list of adventures is Zion National Park, the crown jewel of Utah’s five iconic National Parks, where rainbow-colored rock layers have been sculpted into sandstone cathedrals, cut through by the rushing Virgin River that has created the twisting canyons over millennia.
Our Rockies to the Red Rocks rail route experience transports you in comfort from the golden opportunities of Denver the Mile High City to the resplendent red rocks of Utah’s awe-inspiring National Parks, taking you on a journey through the history of the Wild West, surrounded by spectacular scenery from soaring mountains to twisting canyons.