Rocky Mountaineer tourist train’s inaugural U.S. season a success

Thousands flock to take two-day ride from Denver to Moab with overnight in Glenwood Springs

The Rocky Mountaineer waits to depart from the Glenwood Springs Amtrak Station for it's final ride of the season on Friday morning.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

With the final run completed Friday, the Rocky Mountaineer is celebrating a successful first year in the U.S. and making plans for 2022, a company spokesperson said.

“I feel like we’ve had a great season,” said Jus Smith, the Rocky Mountaineer station manager for Glenwood Springs. “The Mountaineer put a lot of research into where to debut their U.S. runs, and I think it paid off so well when they chose the route through Glenwood Springs.”

The train company specializes in luxury tourism and has transported travelers across the Canadian Rocky Mountains for about 30 years. The Mountaineer’s first U.S. line opened in August.

Rocky Mountaineer employees and Glenwood Springs residents wave to passengers on the final departure of the season on Friday morning.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

A two-day journey from Denver to Moab, Utah, with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Smith said the train typically accommodates about 200 passengers. At the peak of operations in September, however, she said additional cars were added to haul more than 300 passengers through the sweeping vistas in Colorado and Utah.

“Glenwood Canyon, Ruby Canyon and Gore Canyon are all very popular with the passengers,” Smith said. “But honestly, we get a mix of feedback. Some really like the mountain views between here and Denver, and others prefer the desert landscape closer to Moab.”

Passengers wait to depart from the Glenwood Springs Amtrak station for the final ride of the season on Friday morning.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Throughout the season, Mountaineer averaged two round trips a week through the Colorado Rockies, stopping in Glenwood eight times throughout. The trip from Denver to Glenwood Springs takes about eight hours, and passengers stay the night at various lodging establishments, including the Hotel Colorado, Hotel Denver and Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. After leaving Glenwood Springs the next morning, passengers journey for five hours to Moab, Utah.

“It’s a daylight journey, and this year, we learned running into November isn’t ideal,” Smith said. “Because, we start to lose the light.”

The route is slated to run between April and October in 2022, she said.

As a way of thanking the Glenwood Springs community for welcoming the passengers with wave parties throughout the year, Mountaineer hosted a drawing for a free one-way ride on the train line in 2022, which was awarded to Sheila Markowitz.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community, and Glenwood has been so amazingly supportive,” Smith said.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at