Rocky Mountaineer, Rockies to the Red Rocks, Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah

I bet you’ve searched online to see if there is a luxury train in the USA and all you can find are articles about the Rocky Mountaineer train ride in Canada, am I right? I have good news for you… Rocky Mountaineer has launched a new luxury train ride in the Southwestern USA. This new route is between Denver, Colorado and Moab, Utah — The Rockies to the Red Rocks, and has an overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado! How exciting!

Rocky Mountaineer’s epic Canadian train journeys have expanded to the United States and I had to see what the new route was all about. I was hosted by Rocky Mountaineer on the Denver to Moab westbound route. This was a great choice as I loved ending my trip in Moab so we had time to explore Arches National Park before flying home. 

GG Divider Line

Luxury Train in the USA from Denver to Moab

The Oxford Hotel near Union Station, Denver, Colorado, photo-bombed by FedEx

Our days started early, thank goodness I’m an early riser! Before checking out of my hotel, The Oxford Hotel near Union Station, I repacked my suitcase and added items I’d need during the day to my day bag/carry-on. I included a sweater, medication, camera, phone charger, and Kindle (which I pack whether I need it or not). I knew I wouldn’t see my luggage during the day but it would be waiting for me in my hotel room in Glenwood Springs. Talk about luxury service!  

Rocky Mountaineer, Denver to Moab, Luxury train in the USA

I enjoy train journeys because I can sit back, relax, and admire epic scenery that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to see while driving…and in comfort and style… Rocky Mountaineer did not disappoint. I’ve been looking forward to this trip ever since I discovered that they were expanding into the United States. Utah has stunning scenery in the national parks and a road trip to explore this area has been on my bucket list for years.

I settled into my comfy seat in my glass-domed coach, with my GoPro and camera ready for action, and new friends surrounding me. Throughout the trip, we were served cocktails and delicious meals (pictured below) while admiring the stunning views of the Colorado Rockies, Big 10 Curve, Moffat Tunnel, and bald eagles. We crossed the Continental Divide on the second day (pictured below—can you see the writing on the cliff wall “Utah-Colorado”?) and passed through Glenwood Canyon, Ruby Canyon, Gore Canyon, Burns Canyon, and Byers Canyon along the Colorado River. Some of the scenery outside of Denver is similar to where I live in British Columbia, but I didn’t expect to see snow in mid-April! I was surprised because other parts of the trip were so warm that I didn’t even need to wear the sweater I packed.

Overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

After a full first day on the train soaking up the epic views, we disembarked and spent the night in Glenwood Springs at The Hotel Denver, across the street from the train station. We had arrived in Glenwood Springs later in the day so we didn’t get the chance to visit the hot springs or do much else other than have dinner at Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse…and a delicious dinner it was! I want to return to Glenwood Springs at a later date and explore more of what the city has to offer.

The Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Dining on Rocky Mountaineer

You’ll never be hungry or thirsty on this train! Our hosts served delicious meals at our seats while we sat back and admired the stunning views both days. If you know me, you know I go for salty not sweet, but this chocolate torte was so good that I ate the entire thing! Can you see why this is a luxury train in the USA?

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between SilverLeaf and SilverLeaf Plus?

On Rocky Mountaineer there are different levels of service. Perhaps a better way to put this is they offer different packages as the service is the same (world-class) no matter which “Leaf” option guests choose. On the US route, there are two options: SilverLeaf and SilverLeaf Plus, and the obvious choice is SilverLeaf Plus. The GoldLeaf bi-level coaches you see on the Canadian routes are too tall for the tunnels in the US, so Rocky Mountaineer expanded horizontally instead with access to a lounge car.

With SilverLeaf Plus, guests have access to a Lounge Car with a player piano, comfortable seating with full windows so you don’t miss the views, board games, and elevated dining options with wine pairing and signature cocktails. SilverLeaf Plus guests also have access to two outdoor viewing platforms and the extra room to walk between the coach and lounge cars will help keep up your daily steps!

Both service levels have reclining seats which don’t infringe on the person’s space behind you. Between the seats are two standard North American plug-ins for charging electronics, as well as a small viewing platform between coaches that fit two people per side — great for fresh air, and photo opportunities when we wanted to take pictures without the window reflections.

Denver to Moab vs Moab to Denver… which is the best?

I love the outdoors and wide-open spaces so I preferred the option to travel from Denver to Moab in order to spend extra time exploring Arches National Park after the train ride. If you prefer to spend time in the city, then I recommend the eastbound route and book extra days in Denver.

What should I pack?

Be prepared for a variety of climates and wear layers. We encountered rain, snow, and dry heat on an April trip so if you’re travelling in July and August the temperature is typically warm…ok HOT in Moab. You can expect 36°C to 38°C (97°F to 100°F) during the day and around 18°C (34°F) at night. Rocky Mountaineer’s coaches are air-conditioned, so you may want a light jacket or sweater with you onboard, as well.

PRO TIP: Wear a dark top or sweater with no patterns, it lessens the reflection in the windows when taking photos. 

What’s it like on the train?

The Rocky Mountaineer train travels during the day so guests don’t miss the stunning scenery that varies throughout the journey. From desert-like views to snow, to red rock canyons, we saw it all!

Our hosts were more than servers, August kept us entertained with historical stories of the areas we passed through, mixed with humorous tales of a few colourful characters who passed through the locations many years before we did. Our hosts had “eagle eyes” when spotting bald eagles and other wildlife during our journey…they did this all while answering our many questions plus serving us regionally-inspired cuisine featuring local flavours at our seats. This takes talent and is part of what makes this a luxury train in the USA!

Things to do before and after your train journey

Denver

Will you be arriving in Denver by air?… if so, take the A-Line RTR to downtown Union Station and two hotels that are nearby are The Oxford Hotel (across the road from Union Station) and The Crawford Hotel (right above Union Station). You don’t have to go far after you check into your hotel, you can relax at the Cooper Lounge in Union Station and later dine at Tavernetta, and taste some of the best and freshest handmade Italy-inspired pasta I’ve had in a very long time.

I arrived in Denver the day before my rail journey began. If it worked with my schedule, I would have arrived 2 or 3 days earlier and spent time exploring Denver and discovering what the mile-high city has to offer. Instead, I had a few hours to explore hear my hotel, The Oxford Hotel, and ended up at the Denver Selfie Museum — a space with selfie stations with ring lights set up for just that…selfies.

Downtown Denver, Colorado — The Mile High City

Moab

One of the newer places to stay in Moab is the Hoodoo Moab (Curio Collection by Hilton). From the hotel, you can see Moab’s red rocks close to Arches National Park. Just a block from Main Street makes for easy access to explore the town, shop, and try some of the delicious local cuisines. Hoodoo Moab has an outdoor pool, full-service spa, and decor that pays homage to the surrounding Western landscape.

Hoodoo Moab

Sunset Hummer Tour with Moab Adventure Center in the Hell’s Revenge area was a highlight of my time in Moab. I can admit it now…I loved it! We climbed steep sandstone hills, and in addition to making us scream, our guide gave us the history of the Canyonlands area, we saw dinosaur tracks embedded in the rocks. Don’t worry, it was all safe and our guide has been climbing the hills for about 30 years. 

Our last adventure before flying home was a tour of Arches National Park with Moab Adventure Center. Some of the highlights included Balancing Rock, The Windows and Delicate Arch Viewpoint. Our guide was very informative and kept us entertained with the history of the national park and by the end of our tour we were seeing all the faces and characters he described in the rock formations.

If you have any questions about this luxury train in the USA or the Canadian routes, please message me or ask in the comments below. You also may be interested in my other post, “A Local’s Guide to the Epic Rocky Mountaineer Rail Journey” regarding the Canadian routes.

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