Groups enjoy history and scenery aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad’s authentic, steam-operated locomotives. We chatted with Dorene Velarde, the railroad’s group sales/reservationist representative, to learn more about the 64-mile journey between Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado.

Q. How would you describe the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to someone who has never visited before?

A. Riding the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the experience of a lifetime. From Chama, one of the iconic sections on the tracks you will see is the water standpipe at Lobato, where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed and featured train 484, which continues to operate to this day. You will then continue your journey winding your way up the steep route passing Windy Point to Cumbres Pass, which is the highest elevation on the railroad at 10,015 feet. The train winds through the majestic San Juan mountains and valleys as it follows the Los Pinos River to Osier Station. After lunch at the station, the train will continue to steam ahead, passing by the 600′ Toltec Gorge and burrowing through two tunnels. You will travel along the mountain tops, zigzagging the canyon walls passing through aspens, evergreens and remarkable rock formations, and winding across the borders of Colorado and New Mexico 11 times through the Conejos Valley to the high plains desert that lead to Antonio.

Q. What makes your attraction great for group tours?

A. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is one attraction that should not be missed while visiting the states of New Mexico and Colorado. The scenery is spectacular, and the photo opportunities are amazing. We also offer competitive group rates of up to 20% off, depending on group size, for coach-style seating only.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad exiting rock tunnel sitting 600 feet above Rio De Los Pinos.
Exiting rock tunnel sitting 600 feet above Rio De Los Pinos.
Photo courtesy of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Q. How do you help tour operators plan their group tours?

A. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad offers year-round booking dates for group sales. Early booking begins in November with holiday presales for the following season.

Q. Are there areas, themes, or activities you would like to promote to group tours?

A. Northern New Mexico is as unique as it is vast! This area is home to several national forests, state parks, Indian pueblos and reservations, a gateway community (Chama) for the Continental Trail Divide, and opportunities to seek, hike, hunt, fish, explore, and relax. Contact the Chama Chamber of Commerce at Additionally, southern Colorado is home to a few national parks, more than a few fourteeners, great elk and antelope hunting grounds, golf courses where your golf balls sail through the air (10% further, according to Golf Digest!), four-wheel-drive trails, and the Continental Divide. For more information, contact the Alamosa Chamber of Commerce.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad  Chama Station
Arriving at Chama Station passing the coal tipple originally built in 1924.
Photo courtesy of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad

Q. What’s your long-term outlook for group tours at Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad?

A. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad group sales/reservationist welcomes groups from all over the world and will work diligently to accommodate all passengers.

Q. Is there anything new or upcoming that group tours should know about?

A. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad offers a variety of specials that include the following events: The 4th of July Celebration Train, The Botany Trains, The Geology Train, The Friends of the C&T Pre-National Narrow Gauge Convention Photo Charters, Rio Grande 463 120th Anniversary Photo Charter, Rio Grande 168 Photo Charter, and the Galloping Goose No. 5.

Q. Is there anything else our audience of tour operators should know about the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad?

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad offers a variety of train excursions departing from both the Chama and Antonito depots. Built in 1880, the track between Chama and Antonito was part of the San Juan Extension of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. We are the highest, longest, and most authentic steam-operated railroad in North America. Join us today to experience what our authentic 19th-century steam railroad has to offer. Group rates are available!

Contact Dorene Velarde at or 575-219-3302 to plan your group trip today.

Lead image:
Steaming through the Gold Rush.
Photo courtesy of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad