All aboard! Here are five holiday-themed Colorado train rides.
This nonprofit railway serves up two Christmastime rides. On Santa’s North Pole Adventure, guests board decorated heated cars before making an out-and-back, hourlong trek to the Silver Plume Depot. During the ride, children meet Santa as he, Mrs. Claus, and helpers pass out gifts, treats, and goodies. Santa’s Lighted Forest Train follows the same route, but departs at night, weaving through a forest that’s aglow with holiday lights. Both rides take off from Devil’s Gate Station in Georgetown. 646 Loop Dr., Georgetown
During the 90-minute Polar Express Train Ride, passengers aboard a historic steam engine experience the timeless tale of a child’s journey to the North Pole while interacting with characters from the 1985 book by Chris Van Allsburg. Families travel north to pick up Santa Claus, who visits train cars, leads caroling, and hands out Christmas gifts. Durango may be far, but it’s worth the drive: This cowboy town has great winter offerings for active families, including cross-country skiing and dogsledding—plus dining, shopping, and Polar Express packages at the Strater Hotel. 479 Main Ave., Durango
The 90-minute Santa Express Train takes pajama-clad guests to the North Pole—a special town with buildings, gingerbread men, and reindeer. When the locomotive reaches its destination, Santa and his elves hop on board and pass through train cars, talking to travelers and handing out holiday bells. During the ride, families carol and play games while nibbling cookies and sipping on cocoa. Food is available for purchase on the train, and guests can have their picture taken with Santa before exiting. 330 Royal Gorge Blvd., Cañon City
To make the holiday season brighter for those in need, Cumbres & Toltec—the longest narrow-gauge steam railroad in America—runs free Christmas Trains, collecting food and toys to distribute in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Passengers who donate a new toy and/or nonperishable food item ride free on select dates in December, which are listed online. Last year, the railroad collected 5,500 pounds of food and nearly 1,500 toys. Rides take off from Antonito, and climb the foothills of the San Juan Mountains to the Ferguson Trestle before returning to the station. During the trek, Santa’s elves serve complimentary hot chocolate and cookies. 5234 U.S. Hwy. 285, Antonito
Mark Your Calendars!
Colorado Railroad Museum delivers a theatrical Polar Express Train Ride, based on the children’s book, each November and December. Tickets for the holiday-themed experience go on sale in August, and you have to act fast—all 2018 rides sold out in 48 hours this year! Set your calendar reminder now, and book this ride for the 2019 holiday season. 17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden