Inaugurated last month, it’s the first all-U.S. route (it runs westbound, as well) offered by the luxury train service that has, since 1990, ferried passengers through Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies.
Over the course of a full day, the train mostly followed the course of the Colorado River, working its way slowly through four canyons and past a seemingly endless string of spectacular mountain vistas. Eventually, as the track crossed the Continental Divide, the route shifted, following along east-flowing rivers and creeks, before emerging into the Rockies foothills overlooking Denver and Boulder, Colo.
Rocky Mountaineer hadn’t intended to inaugurate its Rockies to the Red Rocks itinerary until next year, but the timeline was moved forward after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a shutdown of its three itineraries between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies until July 5. Seats on those journeys are mostly filled by Americans, Australians and U.K. guests, all of whom were precluded from visiting Canada until the country reopened its borders to fully vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9, with reopenings for vaccinated residents of other countries slated for Sept. 7.
The company will operate the Moab-Denver line through Nov. 19 of this year and then begin a 2022 season on April 17.
Veterans of Rocky Mountaineer’s Canadian routes will notice significant operational differences on the Utah-Colorado circuit. Chiefly, the company isn’t offering its higher-end GoldLeaf class, where travelers sit upstairs in a two-level domed car with windows that are almost wraparound, then take their meals in the lower-level dining car.
Rocky Mountaineer had intended to offer GoldLeaf on the U.S. line, but their domed cars proved to be six inches too high to fit through the famed Moffat Tunnel that cuts for six miles underneath the Continental Divide just east of the Winter Park ski resort.
Instead, Rockies to the Red Rocks customers can choose between the line’s standard SilverLeaf service and a new SilverLeaf Plus option that gives each car of passengers access to a separate lounge car, though that carriage isn’t elevated. SilverLeaf Plus customers also enjoy upgraded alcoholic drink offerings and get a fourth host per car.
Meals, however, are offered at your seat rather than in a dining car. And offerings are less expansive because the train doesn’t have the full galley facilities that can be found on the Rocky Mountaineer trains in Canada.
Staff members are taking the changes in stride and putting the best face on it.
This route has its own unique service, one you can’t find anywhere else on Rocky Mountaineer.