Many people drive right by April’s Resolution Destination without ever noticing it. And if you’ve ever driven up I-70 to Summit County, then you may have too. Having driven I-70 more times than we can count, and through word of mouth, we were aware of the Georgetown Loop Railroad and thought it could be a fun way to see some of the Colorado landscape from a different view. While we had always heard that it operated year-round, this year we discovered that opening day wasn’t until April 21st. So, as Cameron is apt to do (especially with 5:00 dinner reservations at empty restaurants), he made reservations months in advance so we could be among the first riders of the year.
We seemed to have caught the Colorado spring-winter bug, because in typical Colorado fashion it was snowing pretty good the day of our trip. Lucky for us, Corrie wouldn’t dare settle for the open air coach class car, so we had bought our tickets for the inside parlor car. And we were very happy and thankful about it on that day. You could call the parlor cars “rustic” (they are historic after all), but they are heated and the attendants serve snacks, water and alcoholic beverages; luxurious enough for us on a snowy day in the mountains.
Before we boarded the train we were greeted by the train conductors, in full regalia, and had our professional picture taken. With a cry of “All Aboard!” we made our way to the front of the car and found our seats. As our waiter came around to take our order we decided that champagne was in order. Because… why not? As we waited for our drinks, Cameron watched with a twinge of disappointment as the couple seated behind us was served first, with tiny plastic champagne glasses. Thinking out loud, he wondered why the pour was so small and what was with the cheesy plastic? Corrie thought he was going to storm out right then and there.
But, to his slight relief we were served in little Solo cups that allowed for more champagne to be poured. It didn’t take long though for his emotions to switch and a little bit of jealousy set in,… “Why is that couple so special that they get actual plastic champagne glasses??” A few minutes up the track the train stopped, at the highest point that the railroad hits over a bridge, and the fancy champagne man got down on one knee for a beautiful proposal. One of us (not Corrie) felt just a little bit embarrassed by their previous drink reaction.
It was a picturesque day above Georgetown, CO with snow falling steadily in the valley and Clear Creek tumbling beautifully along next to the tracks.
Not the worst way to ask for your love’s hand in marriage. Corrie, being the sap that she is, cried for a minute. Cameron (usually also a crier) was a little more stone-hearted on this day, and didn’t. Much to Cameron’s chagrin, the bride was sobbing and she was still crying when they got off the train to take the mine tour on the way back down.
Neither of us is especially fond of confined spaces, so we declined to sign up for the mine tours. When the train stopped to let the mine tour guests off, we took the opportunity to step out onto the front deck of our parlor car and snap some nice photos in front of clear creek (some of our favorites). Then it was back inside to head back to the Georgetown station. The train ride was about an hour and a half long, up to the Silver Plume station and back. The scenery was beautiful on a snowy day, the old mines and equipment were interesting, and the ride was over before we wanted it to be. This left us plenty of time to do more with our Saturday together. Did we do something productive or adventurous? Nope.
We headed down and took the exit to Blackhawk to get some lunch at Ameristar Casino and waste some money on penny slots. For the record, Corrie walked away about $80 richer. It’s important to mix things up and do some cheesy or weird stuff you might not normally be interested in. We don’t ski, so on a snowy Saturday in April we hit the casino for no other reason than to be goofy and spend time together. Not being your typical casino goers, we took the opportunity to people watch and speculate on the more interesting characters’ stories.
Overall the trip was a success! We both enjoyed our train ride and the impromptu side trip to Blackhawk. The Georgetown Loop Railroad is definitely a worthwhile experience, novel and fun. But, it may not be one we feel the need to go back to year after year. In the end, we found our own ways to spice it up in ways that don’t need to be repeated here.
Destination Rating: 3.5 out of 5
What We Learned
- DO: buy tickets to the coach cars if you are reasonably certain of nice weather.
- DO: bring your own snacks and beverages in a backpack if you ride the coach cars.
- DO: think up covert ways to spice up the adventure.
- DON’T: expect Blackhawk to be the sleepy little mining town you remember from childhood.
- DON’T: expect to get small bills out of the ATM’s at Ameristar Casino, 100’s only.
- DON’T: feel pressured to buy the photos the railroad staff take of you before you depart.