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FAQs

Getting to Durango

Durango is located in southwest Colorado near the Four Corners, where the borders of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about getting to Durango:

Which major highways run through Durango?
Durango is accessible by US Hwy 550 from the north and south, and US Hwy 160 from the east and west. D&SNGRR on map.  If you're driving in Colorado, you can find current road conditions by visiting the CO Department of Transportation's Web site at www.COTrip.org For recorded phone information call: 303-639-1111 or instate toll free 877-315-7623.

Does Durango have an airport?
Yes, Durango is easily and conveniently accessible by air. The Durango-La Plata County Airport (Airport Code: DRO) is serviced by American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines and US Air. Click here La Plata County Airport for current information. The La Plata County Airport is approximately 12 miles from downtown Durango. Other nearby airports include Animas Air Park, Cortez Municipal Airport in CO and Four Corners Regional Airport in NM.

What is the closest International Airport?
The closest international airport to Durango is Albuquerque International Sunport located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, approximately a three and a half hour drive south of Durango. Durango is located in southwest Colorado near the Four Corners, where the borders of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.

How far is it to drive between Durango and Denver?
Approximately 340 miles depending on which route you take. You can count on beautiful scenery no matter which route you choose so make plans to stop often to visit the towns you'll pass through! Plan your trip here using Google Maps -we've already marked your destination!

Passenger Information

What kind of weather should I expect?
The Durango area boasts nearly 300 days of sunshine each year. However, it's always good to be prepared for rain or snow any time of year! Except for severe weather or track conditions, the D&SNG runs trains as scheduled.
Durango enjoys a four-season climate, featuring moderate temperatures year-round. With a typical summer temperature of around 85, Durango is at its warmest during the month of July. It’s coldest in January, when temperatures can reach as low as a brisk 10 degrees.  Because of Durango’s altitude, temperature variations between night and day can be quite drastic, sometimes hitting a 40-degree swing during the summer months and 24 degrees during winter, so you’ll want to make sure you pack appropriately. Click here for current weather conditions.

What should I wear?
Probably the most important thing to know about riding the train is "Safety First". We highly recommend wearing sturdy, closed-toe, closed-heel shoes. Besides helping to ensure safe movement on board and when boarding and detraining, navigation when in Silverton will be more comfortable. Sunglasses are also highly recommended to protect eyes from possible cinders in the air. Safety glasses are available for purchase in the gift shops and onboard the train. With the high elevation and brilliant sunshine, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen come in handy.
The train climbs nearly 3,000 feet to Silverton and the high mountain air will be on average about 10 degrees cooler than in Durango. Mountain weather in Colorado is often unpredictable. Wearing layers of clothing that you can remove or add as the temperature changes will add to the enjoyment of your journey. 

Can I bring my small pet dog with me on the train?
No live animals are allowed on the D&SNG trains except for service animals with their owner or trainer. Durango has several pet boarding facilities. For more information click here for a link to several. We strongly encourage our guests to find suitable daytime facilities for your pets and to not leave them in your parked car. 

Where can I park when I ride the train?
The D&SNG parking lot is located next to the rail yard at the corner of U.S. Hwy 550 and College Drive, just west of the McDonald's restaurant. We encourage you to pick up your parking ticket with your train tickets the day before your ride. For more information click here.

What if I need to change my date, departure time or the car I am riding in?
Be sure to call right away so that we can accommodate your change! There is a $6 per seat fee to change your date, departure time or car. There is no charge if you UPGRADE your reservation to Premium-class or one-way Bus transportation.

Will I receive a refund if I need to cancel my trip?
With at least 48 hours notice, there is a cancellation fee of $14 per adult ticket and $7 per child ticket if you choose to cancel your trip. No refund will be given with less than 48 hours notification.

Can I ride the train one way?
For passengers wishing to ride the train just one way and travel the other direction by bus, we have quite a few options. Click here for information on our bus/train combination
Passengers are also welcome to ride the train one way and make their own arrangements for passage beyond their stopping point. The reserved seat fare is the same as a round trip fare.

What about altitude?
Durango's elevation is 6,512 feet above sea level and Silverton sits comfortably at 9,305 feet elevation. To help thwart altitude sickness (headache and nausea) guests are encouraged to get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Whenever possible, try to acclimate to the altitude by arriving a day early. If you have any health concerns, check with your physician for advice.

How do I find my Car and Seat?
To find your car, refer to the numbers on the small, black tags at the end of each car (look for two-digit numbers only). The large number painted on the car (usually three digits) is the number assigned to the car by the manufacturer. All seats in all car classes on the train are assigned. Seat numbers are located above the Coach seats and in front of the Gondola seats.

Can I walk through the train and sit where I want?
After tickets are collected, passengers may walk through the train to visit the Concession Car and restrooms. Except for specific special event trains, all seats are reserved throughout the train and there is no 'open' seating.

Is the train ADA accessible?
The D&SNGRR offers a train car with a wheelchair-accessible restroom and lift service! This car is scheduled to run daily on our summer train to Silverton and on the winter train to Cascade Canyon. The wheelchair can be locked in position and you can ride right in the same car with the passenger in the wheelchair. Be sure to ask for the ADA car when booking. THERE IS ONLY ONE WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE CAR IN OUR FLEET. WITHOUT ADVANCE BOOKING, WE CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR PARTY. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE CALL AHEAD TO BOOK THIS SERVICE!

Can I bring my service dog?
Service dogs are always welcome on board the train.

Are there restrooms?
Yes. Restrooms are located in the rear of each of the enclosed standard coaches and are accessible for all passengers. Premium coaches also have their own restrooms accessible only by premium-class ticket holders. There is one standard coach with ADA-accessible restroom.

Is there anywhere to get coffee/soda/snacks at the train station?
Yes, Caboose Coffee Shop is located in the south end of the Durango train depot. It features a variety of hot and cold beverages including lattes, cappuccinos, chai, hot coffee, iced coffee, soda, iced tea, hot tea, hot chocolate and hot apple cider. Our coffee beverages are made with locally roasted, organic coffee and espresso beans. We also feature a variety of candy and snacks and proudly carry locally-produced Ricky's Lucky Nuts, James Ranch grass-fed beef jerky, Honeyville Honey and homemade fudge! Be sure to check out our newest addition --Dippin Dots ice cream!

Are there refreshments on board the train?
Yes. Refreshments are for sale in our concession car located toward the center of the train. The menu includes breakfast and lunch items, hot coffee, hot chocolate and other drinks. Lunch menu includes hot dogs, pulled-pork sandwiches (winter only), bean & cheese burritos, chips,  and snacks. A wide selection of hot and cold beverages, including a full bar with five locally-brewed beers, is available in the concession car.

Is there smoking anywhere on the train?
No. There is no smoking in any car, platform, bathroom or any other area on board the train.

Where are the D&SNGRR and the Silverton Freight Yard Museums?
The D&SNGRR Museum is at the south end of the roundhouse in Durango.  It is open daily in the summer May-October and on dates the Cascade Canyon Train is running Nov-April. 
The Silverton Freight Yard Museum is located at the Silverton Depot and is open daily when train operates to Silverton from May-October. Admission is free to the public. Click here to go to our Museums page.

 

Train and Locomotive Information

What is the difference between a coach and gondola?
Coaches are fully enclosed with windows and doors that open and close. Seats face forward. Our gondolas have full roofs, open sides, and seats that face outward. We encourage passengers on gondolas to bring jackets (jackets, ponchos and fleeces are also available for purchase in the gift shop) and dress appropriately for outdoor weather conditions.

How many people does it take to run the train? Who is in charge?
Five people: Conductor, Head Brakeman, Rear Brakeman, Engineer and Fireman. The crew also includes attendants in the Concession Car and the Private cars. The conductor is in charge! The brakeman assists the conductor.

How narrow is the narrow gauge? Why was it used?
Narrow gauge rails are three feet (36 inches) apart, while standard gauge rails are four feet, 8 1/2 inches (56 1/2 inches), which is a standard based on Roman chariot wheels. The D&RG chose to build narrow gauge because the construction was cheaper, the equipment cost less and the narrow gauge was better suited to the sharper curves of the mountain terrain.

Is the steam locomotive fueled by coal?

Yes. For a round trip to Silverton a fireman shovels about six tons of coal per day! On a round trip, ten thousand gallons of water are used to produce the steam to power the locomotive!

How fast does the train go?
The train travels at a top speed of 18 mph (regular speed with all the coaches).

How many steam locomotives does the D&SNG operate?
We have 3 K-28s (473, 476, 478) and 4 K-36s (480, 481, 482, 486). Visit our Scrapbook under the About Us heading to see photos of our locomotives or click here.

What is the weight of the heaviest locomotive?
Our K-28s weigh 254,500 pounds when loaded with coal and water. The K-28s are numbered in the 470 series. Our K-36s weigh 286,600 pounds when loaded with coal and water. The K-36s are numbered in the 480 series.

Does the train operate any diesel locomotives?
The D&S purchased "Hot Shot 1" which was put into service in July of 2002 primarily as an emergency and fire prevention vehicle. The D&S purchased four additional diesel locomotives in September 2002, which have been restored to operating condition and are now used for switching in the yard, maintenance along our right-of-way, fire prevention and emergency use. In May 2003, "Big Al", an 87-ton G.E. Center cab locomotive was put into service to be used to pull trains if drought conditions might dictate the need. The diesel locomotives are used for daily train switching once the steam locomotives return for the night. Unless an emergency situation occurs, all regular passenger trains are pulled by steam locomotives.

How old are the locomotives the D&SNGRR owns?
No. 42 (on display in the D&SNGRR Museum) was built in 1887. The locomotives used for daily service are from 1923 and 1925.

Who owns the D&SNGRR?
Since 1998 the D&SNGRR has been owned and operated by American Heritage Railways; Allen and Carol Harper, principal owners.
Prior to that, Charles E. Bradshaw, Jr. purchased the line from the D&RGW in 1981, renamed it the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and expanded the passenger service.

Which movies has the train "starred" in?
Colorado Territory (1949), Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), Denver & Rio Grande (1952), Viva Zapata (1952), Three Young Texans (1954), Run for Cover (1955), Maverick Queen (1956), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Night Passage (1957), How the West Was Won (1963), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Support Your Local Gunfighter (1970), Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (1984), The Tracker (1987), Rebirth of a Locomotive (1992), Tracks Through Time (1999), Durango Kids (1999), Golden Dreams (2000), The Claim (2000), The Prestige (2006).

The Excursion

How long did it take to lay the tracks between Durango and Silverton?
The Denver & Rio Grande arrived in Durango in August, 1881. In November of that same year crews began building the tracks to Silverton. The tracks were completed in July 1882, just shy of nine months later!

When did the train start offering leisure rides?
Established in 1881, the train began offering scenic tours in July 1882.

Why are the milepost markers numbered 451.5 (Durango) through 496.9 (Silverton)?
This mileage is marked as the distance traveling westbound from Denver, CO. These tracks were once part of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) which reorganized in 1921 as Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW). Most of the line between Durango and Denver was abandoned in 1970.

How far is it to Silverton from Durango, and how long does the train ride take?
At top speed of 18 mph, it takes the train 3 1/2 hours to travel the 45 miles by rail from Durango to Silverton.

How much time do we have in Silverton?
There is a layover in Silverton of two hours to two hours and fifteen minutes. Your train will turn around before departure. However, if you take our motorcoach service to Silverton, you have approximately 3 hours in Silverton before your train departs. New in 2014, we offer a 1/2 day round trip with only 1/2 hour in Silverton.
Don't miss your return train!

 

 

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