Train travel has been romanticized over the years, and for good reason. There’s something about the chug of a train, the gentle sway as it makes it way along the tracks, that harks back to the days of old.
It was with that notion that I stepped aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, a train that got its start on its Canadian route from Vancouver to Jasper. Just last year, the Rocky Mountaineer added a U.S. route called “From the Rockies to the Red Rocks,” and that was the one I was thrilled to board. Embarking in Denver, the train would whoosh through mountain tunnels, along the Colorado River, and through a changing terrain that would leave me breathless.
From the moment you step onto the red carpet and up the steps of the train, you know you are about to have a first-class experience. Our tour guide who would narrate the trip greeted us at the red carpet and welcomed us aboard. My assigned seat led me to a comfortable, spacious spot with glass dome windows that curved upward, providing unobstructed views of land and sky. I was immediately handed a mimosa for our embarkation toast, and we were off!
The train began its journey in Denver, and as it carried us out of the city and into farmland, Michael, our tour guide, told us stories about what we were seeing – the farm to our left where horses grazed at pasture, the vegetation to our right that is unique to that area of that country. It didn’t take long before we ascended into the mountains, Denver spread out below us. As we did, I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery. For the first time in a long time, I had no desire to look at my phone.
And that’s a good thing because the Rocky Mountaineer has no Wi-Fi once you get going. It’s intentional. One of the goals of the line is to force people to disconnect, to take in nature rather than screen time. It’s a form of mediation as you gently sway in your seat and get lost in the ever-changing vista. No phone beeps, no thoughts about who you have to email – just calm.
I found myself praying. How could I not, with all of God’s beauty spread before me. Aspens in all their golden glory, the Colorado River winding and wending its way through the landscape, the water dappled in sunlight. I saw five – yes, five! – bald eagles perched proudly in trees. I saw elk, herds of deer, and a bevy of pronghorns. Reds, golds, greens, all in vibrant color, bordered the landscape and reminded me of God’s glory.
We spent the night in Glenwood Springs and embarked the next day for Moab, Utah. Watching the terrain change literally overnight was extraordinary. We made our way into the desert and gazed up at the red mesas forming around us. Rocks formed over millions of year reached up to the sky, their strange and entirely unique shapes forming pictures in our minds – that looks like a hand! Look how that huge rock is balancing just so! How in the world did that arch form?
Seeing the majesty of nature, of what wind and water could do, of God’s grand design, made me realize how small I am, both in my place in the world and the time that I’m here. Those rocks will still be around millions of years from now, and I’ll be in eternity with God, a place so much more majestic that my mind can’t even fathom it.
It’s hard to imagine – impossible, really. But the Rocky Mountaineer gave me a glimpse. I went off the grid, I gave incessant thanks to God for His creation, I reflected on life, and I imagined the afterlife, something even The Rockies to Red Rocks can’t rival.
If you’d like to take your own journey, check out the Rocky Mountaineer. Prices start at $2,000 and include a night in Denver pre-trip, a two-day train journey, and a stop and hotel stay in Glenwood Springs. All meals and beverages are included, and service is top-notch. Silverleaf service is standard, but you can upgrade to Silverleaf Plus, which adds a lounge car with additional viewing opportunities, signature cocktails, and snacks.