Vibe: Unhurried, luxury travel that’s all about the journey
Travel time: Two days each way
TIP: Though your time aboard the Rocky Mountaineer is filled with stunning views and impromptu educational moments, five to eight hour days in a train car can be long for younger kids. Bring middle to high-schoolers, and if you opt to bring younger ones, be prepared with some just-in-case diversions like binoculars and coloring books.
Over the course of its 30 years, the Rocky Mountaineer train line’s spacious, glass-dome coaches and exceptional cuisine (coriander-crusted salmon, anyone?) have solidified its reputation in luxury tourism. Their new Rockies to Red Rocks route, which covers 370 miles from Denver to Moab, is no different.
Families who begin in Denver (the route can be traveled in either direction) will enjoy breakfast and lunch as the train steams through the Continental Divide via Moffat Tunnel and chugs along the Colorado River before a night’s stop in Glenwood Springs. Guests disembark for the evening around 5 p.m.—so there’s plenty of time for a dip in the local hot springs—and stay at a prearranged hotel not far from the depot. The next morning, breakfast is served while the iron horse rumbles past haunting hoodoos and red-hued rocks as it makes its way to the terminus in Moab.
Eyes (not) on the road: Many family road trips require Mom or Dad to log long hours behind the wheel. With train travel, it’s relaxing all around: no maps, no bathroom stops, and no arguing over what fast food you’ll regret eating later. “Everything is taken care of,” says Tessa Day, communications manager for Rocky Mountaineer.
Education, incognito: Vacations that slip in experiential education opportunities are a parent’s dream. Throughout this trip, well-trained hosts and hostesses describe historical events and engineering feats that took place outside the oversized glass windows. They’ll also point out plant and animal life (bighorn sheep, regularly, and bears, if you’re lucky). Since the train is WiFi-free, there’s less opportunity for digital distractions, Day says. “It’s a chance to unplug and engage with the group you’re traveling with.”