Ben’s All Aboard the California Zephyr!

Come along on our train trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado! It was April’s first time ever riding a train and Ben’s first time doing so state-side. After getting our bags all packed and arrangements made for our toddler and our dog, we headed from home to Lincoln. We boarded the California Zephyr 5 around 12 AM Wednesday morning. It was dark and we were a little unsure about where to sit but we found some seats and settled in for a 14-hour trip. 

The train makes quite a few stops on its way out of Nebraska so we tried to catch some shut-eye in between stops. Once we arrived in Denver the bus emptied out and we made our way upstairs to our (correct) seats. 

It was at this time that we located the dining/snack car and found the observation deck. Since the train was pretty empty (unusual normally but this is the off-season) we were able to spread out for the rest of the ride.


The scenery was stunning and not being in the driver’s seat allowed us to really take it all in. The train route follows the Colorado River through the Rocky Mountains. We saw many deer, a small herd of elk, several hawks, and a bald eagle nest with several adult bald eagles!


Below: a small herd of elk


We arrived in Glenwood Springs at about 2:00 PM (local time). Our hotel, Hotel Denver, was located right across the street from the train station. We made our way to the hotel to get checked in and unpack. 


Hotel Denver features some amazing views of the mountains and the Colorado River. There is a restaurant/bar called “Brewpub” and a coffee shop called “River Blend” located on the first floor. 


One of the most notable attractions in Glenwood Springs is the natural hot springs. A short walk over the pedestrian bridge took us to the hot springs pool entrance where you can purchase a pass for the springs. The hot springs are naturally occurring and contain a variety of minerals. The natural temperature of the springs is too hot to enjoy so they pump cool water into the pools to make them more enjoyable. One pool is around 104ºF and the other is around 93ºF. We spent several hours enjoying the cooler of the two pools. 

Another notable attraction is Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. A 20-minute walk took us to the base of the Park where you can board a Gondola and ride to the top of the mountain. The views from the Gondola were spectacular, though not recommended if you’re afraid of heights. 

At the top of the mountain, there is a theme park (limited rides available during the winter), a restaurant, and two different cave tours. We took tours of both caves where they take you through the naturally occurring caves, pointing out different kinds of rock formations and explaining how they are formed. It was fascinating to learn about the different types of growths and how long it takes for them to form: on average the formations grow about 1 cubic inch per 1,000 years, so some of the formations we saw were tens of thousands of years old!

The “Cheeto” (below) is about 25,000 years old! 

Below: ”King’s Row”, named after the larger formations that resemble chess pieces. 

Below: Different colored formations are made up of different minerals.

Below: This one looks like liquid chocolate.

Below: View of Glenwood Springs from the top of the mountain.

The rest of our time was filled with relaxing, eating at the many incredible local restaurants, and some local shopping (Ben loves to shop, JK). We figured out the local bus system so we didn’t have to walk everywhere and were able to venture out a bit further. We also had some incredible donuts, and cronuts (a combination of a donut and a croissant), at Sweet ColoraDough. 


Our return train arrived Tuesday, March 7th, to take us back to Nebraska. We were ready to get home to our own bed and to see our little boy!

We enjoyed some coffee and breakfast sandwiches at River Blend Coffee House before our train arrived to take us home. 


Our train trip home was more eventful than the first. During the first leg of the trip, our train hit a cow. Though it is common for a train to hit an animal, it’s not usually livestock. The train had to stop for an inspection to be sure nothing was harmed on the train itself, and for a police report about the cow. 


Below: Goodbye, Glenwood!

Below: The observation car offered some great photo ops!

Below: A small herd of deer; we saw hundreds of deer.

Below: A few female elk were laying down in the field. 

After we got back on our way we found out we would be delayed in Denver while we waited for the train to drop its last car off. We waited over an hour for them to ultimately decide to leave the car on the train for the rest of the trek. 


Eventually, we arrived back in Lincoln about 2 hours after our scheduled arrival time. We hopped in the truck to drive the 1.5 hours back home and then settled in for a few hours of sleep. Though the trip home was long, the scenery was still beautiful!


We are incredibly blessed to have parents that make it possible for us to take a trip like this. Our boy was so busy having fun with them that he barely missed us. The same cannot necessarily be said for us!