A true Durango, CO icon, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGRR) has a long history in Southwest Colorado. There are 45 miles of tracks from downtown Durango through the San Juan Mountains along the Animas River, ultimately reaching its destination in Silverton, Colorado.
Durango, Colorado was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1880 and the tracks from Durango to Silverton were short to follow. By the summer of 1882, the train was in full operation for passengers and freight. Both towns had fruitful mining sites and the train hauled many tons of gold and silver ore. Over the next century as fires, epidemics, and wars were prevalent, many mines shut down and our area switched more to uranium mining, like Smelter Mountain in Durango.
The D&SNGRR persevered and was registered as a National Historic Landmark in the late 1960s. In the 1980s, scenic tourism began to take the spotlight and in 1985 D&SNGRR bought the Silverton depot and restored service. By the following year, four trains were up and running from Durango to Silverton! Today, there are historic oil-fired, or diesel coal-fired steam-operated engines running from Durango to Silverton that are owned and operated by American Heritage Railways.
The Durango station, which is now a historic landmark, is situated on Main and 6th Street in historic downtown. The depot hosts a gift shop and a museum filled with vintage railroading, mining, and other artifacts. Railyard tours are also available.
Train Rides & Events
The full 3.5 hour trek to Silverton is a cell service and wi-fi free trip so you can fully enjoy the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains from the Animas Canyon. After a 2 hour stop in Silverton to find a nice restaurant and souvenir, a round trip train ticket or a bus ride will get you back to Durango. A shorter experience is available from Durango to Cascade Canyon. Summer and winter provide different perspectives on the scenery during this 5 hour round trip. Wilderness access is possible in the summer months for hikers, backpackers, rafters, and fishers; the train acts as a valet from Durango to Silverton with stops at Needleton and Elk Park. Each train is equipped with first class, coach, and open gondola cars (seasonal). Concessions are available to purchase as well.
Throughout the year, the D&SNGRR hosts many themed excursions including photography trips, the Cowboy Poetry Train, Valentines Day and St. Patrick's Day specials, as well as beer and wine tastings. The Polar Express is a holiday exclusive following the classic tale and accompanied by songs, hot chocolate, and a trip to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. The train is also a competitor against road cyclists in the infamous Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a can’t miss opportunity. Whether you live in or are visiting Durango, please let us know if you have any questions about the train or more activities to do in our beautiful corner of Colorado.