Chama Valley & Cumbres & Toltec Railroad
Distance: 180 miles/291 KM drive and 64 mile/103 KM train ride
Driving Time to Chama (Cumbres & Toltec depot): 2-1/2 hours
Driving Time to Antonito (Cumbres & Toltec depot): 1-1/2 hours
Route: From Taos Plaza, Hwy. 64 west to Tierra Amarilla; Hwy. 84 north to Chama; Hwy. 84 south to Tierra Amarilla; Hwy. 64 east to Taos.
Travel west across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway System. The bridge is a three-span steel continuous-deck-truss structure with a concrete-filled steel-grid deck. It was called the "bridge to nowhere" while it was being built because the funding did not exist to continue the road on the other side. Continue to Tres Piedras - see if you can locate the three rocks this little town is named for - and through the Brazos Mountains. Stop at the Brazos Overlook for an inspiring view of the Brazos Cliffs.
Continue down into the Chama Valley and detour west at Los Ojos to Tierra Wools, a spinning and weaving cooperative that sells the wool products of the valley. The Chama Valley offers extensive outdoor opportunities such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fishing and hunting, but the star attraction is the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which operates daily from June to October. This historic narrow gauge train gives passengers an authentic example of railroading in the 1880s. The steam train winds its way through 64 miles of mountain scenery from Chama, New Mexico to Antonito, Colorado, traveling through the 10,022-foot-high Cumbres Pass and the 1,100-foot-deep Toltec Gorge. While half-way trips are available from both depots at Chama, NM and Antonito, CO, Taos visitors can easily enjoy the full-day trip by driving to Antonito, riding the train to Chama and returning to Antonito by bus provided by the railroad. A homemade, hot lunch is available midway at Osier, CO.
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, 888-286-2737
Chama Valley Chamber of Commerce, 800-477-0149 or 575-756-2306
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Pictured: A Cumbres & Toltec narrow gauge train exiting the Rock Tunnel. The station at Antonito. Courtesy of Roger Hogan and Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.