Colorado is a popular destination for Amtrak train trips, and for good reason. In addition to having many outdoor recreation opportunities and stunning mountain views, Colorado also has Amtrak stations in highly walkable areas. In some cases, you won’t even need a rental car once you get off the train in order to enjoy hot springs, winter sports and summer hiking.
To start planning your vacation, explore the top five train destinations in Colorado below and tips for getting there.
Where to Start Your Trip
The following states have Amtrak stations with trains that travel to the destinations on this list. You can view all stations on the California Zephyr route guide.
Note that Chicago is a major Amtrak hub, and you may need to travel to Chicago first via train or plane if you are starting your trip east of the Mississippi River. In California, major cities with access to the California Zephyr include Sacramento and Emeryville, which is just outside of San Francisco. To see all your rail options, begin the ticket booking process on Amtrak.com with your start and end stations.
Other tips: The train to Denver is faster if you are departing from Chicago (over 18 hours) vs from Emeryville, California (the two end points of the California Zephyr route). If you prefer a shorter train ride or just want the scenic mountain views, then consider starting your trip in Salt Lake City, which is about 15 hours away from Denver via Amtrak train (and a shorter ride if you are visiting one of the mountain resort towns). You can also start your train vacation in Denver for a short and scenic trip into the Rocky Mountains.
Colorado Trip Ideas
California Zephyr Amtrak trains stop at five stations in Colorado. Stations are listed below with information on attractions and amenities near each stop.
Overlooking the Rocky Mountains, Denver offers easy access to cultural, culinary and recreational activities. The Amtrak station is downtown near all of the city’s major sports venues and many restaurants, bars, parks and art galleries. A car rental isn’t needed unless you plan to head to the mountains or to a destination that isn’t easily accessible via the RTD light rail system, Uber, Lyft or taxi.
Landmarks and tourist attractions near the Amtrak station include:
- Coors Field
- Commons Park
- 16th Street Mall
- Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
- Denver Central Market
- Elitch Gardens
For a fun winter getaway with snow tubing and skiing, take Amtrak to the Fraser-Winter Park station. You can walk from the station to restaurants, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and Sasquatch’s Hideaway in Fraser. Plus, there is a free local shuttle that stops at the Amtrak station and travels to various other destinations in Fraser and Winter Park, where you’ll find a ski resort. Not a winter person? There is a winery and hiking/biking opportunities to enjoy in the warmer months.
Top nearby attractions include:
- Fraser River Trail
- Fraser Tubing Hill
- Colorado Adventure Park
- Winter Park Adventure Quest
- Winter Park Winery
- Winter Park Resort
- Grand Park Community Recreation Center
Skiing and snowshoeing, along with horseback riding, golf and fishing, are popular activities in Granby. It is a quiet mountain town, so if you prefer a variety of restaurants and amenities while on vacation, you may want to choose one of the other Colorado towns on the Amtrak route. Don’t miss the railroad museum if you are a rail fan, which is in walking distance of the Amtrak station along with a handful of restaurants and parks.
For lodging, a couple motels and Littletree Inn are near the station, otherwise hotels and resorts are further away from the center of town. If you want to rent a car, check out Avalanche Car Rentals. You can also use The Lift shuttle to reach various accommodations in Granby and take a day trip to Fraser and Winter Park.
Explore the following attractions in Granby:
On the Colorado River and next to Glenwood Canyon, Glenwood Springs (pictured above) is yet another walkable Colorado resort town. Hot springs are the big feature here, making this spot great for a spa getaway. There’s also hiking trails, whitewater rafting and an amusement park. Bus service is available to help you get around and you can rent a car, including with Enterprise.
Some of the top sights and activities include:
- Glenwood Hot Springs Pool
- Glenwood Canyon Hiking-Biking Trail
- Glenwood Cavern Adventure Park
- Frontier Historical Museum
- Doc Holliday’s grave
In the western hills of Colorado is Grand Junction. It’s a beautiful place to hike, bike, stroll along the Colorado River or visit a winery. There are many restaurants, hotels and attractions in the downtown area near the Amtrak station. To reach the Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument you’ll need to rent a car (Enterprise and Action Rent-A-Car are in walking distance of the train station). Grand Junction also has a small airport that is an option for your return trip if you don’t want to take the train.
Highlights of activities in and around Grand Junction include:
- Museum of the West
- Bananas Fun Park
- Colorado National Monument
- Grand Mesa National Forest
- Grand Junction Wineries
- One Riverfront Trail
- Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
- Eureka! McConnell Science Museum
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