Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Railroad Journeys & Venues Celebrate the West

By M+E Staff

Recently, I wrote about Santa Fe, New Mexico’s new Sky Railway, which made me think about all the train tie-ins for groups in the U.S. Mountain West and western Canada. Several tourist trains offer special events that groups can tag onto and allow private rental of train cars, and there are venues and museums that celebrate the railroad’s front-and-center place in the development of the West.

Rocky Mountaineer is having great success with the second season of its Rockies to the Red Rocks excursion that runs between Denver, Colorado, and Moab, Utah, overnighting in Glenwood Springs. Based in Canada, Rocky Mountaineer also offers excursions in western Canada. 

Here are a couple more ideas from Arizona and Colorado that come to mind, and make sure to check state tourism websites and ask local destination marketing organizations for what is available in their areas.

Verde Canyon Railroad

Now that summer is in full swing, Arizona’s Verde Canyon Railroad offers Grape Train Escape wine-tasting events as an optional upgrade on its Saturday Night Starlight schedule. Each Grape Train Escape highlights a different wine region, ranging from France and Italy to Chile, Argentina, and Arizona. Five wines are offered during the tastings, along with a variety of appetizers. 

Leaving Clarkdale at 5:30 p.m., the excursion travels the Verde Canyon by daylight, captures the rich colors of sunset, and returns during twilight under star-filled skies. Moonlight rides take place on select Friday nights May through September and are scheduled closest to the full moon cycles. A counterpart to the summer evening trains is a morning ride, departing at 9:30 a.m. and featuring breakfast-style appetizers and the opportunity to toast with a mimosa or Bloody Mary while rolling through beautiful Arizona scenery. Ales on Rails and Magical Christmas Journey trains also are on the calendar.

Located near the hillside mining town of Jerome, Verde Canyon Railroad’s Clarkdale depot is about 25 minutes from Sedona and two hours from Phoenix. Verde Canyon Railroad has carried nearly 3 million passengers in its restored vintage railcars since 1990 on a historic route that was completed in 1912. Groups booking exclusive use of at least one train car can prearrange catering with Copper Spike Café, the depot’s on-site restaurant. 

Table Mountain Station

Colorado Railroad Museum and Table Mountain Inn in Golden, Colorado, have teamed up to launch a new indoor/outdoor venue for private events, Table Mountain Station, at the museum.

Table Mountain Station features a 15-acre railyard with over 100 narrow and standard-gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, Galloping Geese, and a landscaped, G-scale outdoor garden railway. Planners work with Table Mountain Inn’s sales team to make the organizational aspects and can add fun interactive elements including guided tours, train rides, and more.

Plan a gathering for 50 to 500 surrounded by Colorado’s rich railroad history complete with selections from Table Mountain Inn’s full-service catering options, including the hotel’s Grill & Cantina’s menus. Table Mountain Inn’s food truck, Table Mountain Tacos, also is parked permanently at Colorado Railroad Museum to serve visitors and special event attendees. 

Located only five minutes away in downtown Golden, Table Mountain Inn has 74 guest rooms and more than 5,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Established in 1925 as The Berrimoor, the adobe-style boutique hotel was Golden’s first full-service hotel.