Million Dollar Highway and the D&SNGR
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad travels 45 miles in about 3 1/2 hours through the San Juan forest. It originally hauled miners, supplies and ore along the narrow gauge (36 inches apart instead of the normal 56.5 inch spread) rails.
I upgraded to the Rio Grande class, but I can tell you that it wasn't worth the upgrade. I would have been just as happy in the regular gondolas.
Although I was in a "first class" coach there was no narration and everyone pretty much ended up buying the $10 guidebook just so we'd know what we were looking at.
The train ride was exceptionally long, and I was sitting in front of a know-it-all-jerk who took possession of the family guide book and then proceeded to spout out facts directly from the book, but in a manner that indicated he actually had personal knowledge of the area. He talked, talked, talked, about all sorts of nonsense throughout the train ride. It was highly annoying. The only justice was that when we rode along the high-line they were on the "bad" side of the train and didn't get to experience the truly spectacular views of the canyon and river below.
Hola, Third Class Coachers!
This was the most vibrant tree trunk I've ever seen.
It was a long train trestle, but we had no fear.
Tall Timber Resort - You can only reach the resort by train or helicopter. They also have a series of zip lines that cover a little over a mile. We saw people on them, and it looked really fun.
We stopped in Silverton for a couple of hours, time enough for lunch and to wander around a little. It's quite the touristy town of the Ketchikan variety. There seemed to be some permanent residents, but its mostly a town that caters to train passengers.
They did turn the entire train around while we were there, but no one seemed to see exactly how they accomplished it!
I did buy some really delicious fudge home made fudge while I was there.
Passengers could either choose the round trip on the train, or take the train one-way and a bus back down to Durango. I chose option b, mostly because 10 minutes on a train is fun, but 4 hours is not so much. Also, this was a real steam engine, so I was covered in cinders, ashes, and soot. Dirty, dirty, dirty.
The bus back was super crowded because we had 3 full-grown adults (plus 2 kids at their parents' mercy) who had missed their bus back to town. WHAT?! How does that happen?! Idiots. I also wanted to take the bus because I wanted to actually ride down the Million Dollar Highway. The drive was beautiful, but I didn't bother to take pictures out the bus window.