Travelling aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, on the luxury train’s Rockies to Red Rocks route, as a SilverLeaf Plus guest resulted in experiencing good complimentary food and drink, fine views and outstanding onboard service.
THE JOURNEY: In October 2023 I travelled on the Rocky Mountaineer on its 354-mile (570-kilometre) Rockies to Red Rocks route from Denver, Colorado, to Moab, Utah.
PRE-BOARDING: The pre-boarding process was straightforward. Rocky Mountaineer staff were welcoming and easy to interact with. Along with fellow guests, I was presented with luggage tags and departure instructions in the lobby of my Denver hotel the day before embarking on the 1.5-day scenic journey to Moab.
Staying at the Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown placed me in the heart of the Mile High City’s Lower Downtown. The LoDo district, as the area is also known, is walkable from this property near Union Station. A tour aboard an electric tuk tuk, operated by eTuk Ride Denver, proved an enjoyable way of viewing street art and orientating the day before setting off on the Rocky Mountaineer from Denver on an early morning departure.
BOARDING: The Rocky Mountaineer departed Denver from a siding at 36th Street. I headed downstairs after my luggage was collected from my guestroom and boarded a coach for the 10-minute transfer to the train’s departure point. During that short journey, a member of Rocky Mountaineer staff engaged guests with jokes, insights about points of interest along the route and information relating to boarding and the train ride west to Moab.
I was then directed towards the correct car and given a red carpet welcome by Rocky Mountaineer hosts. With the morning sun still low in the sky they welcomed me aboard and showed me to my seat before offering a drink. With orange juice or a mimosa in hand, everyone in the carriage said cheers as the train rolled away.
THE SEAT: My seat, 7A, was by a seat on the righthand side of the train, towards the front of the single-deck SilverLeaf car that I was travelling in. The Rocky Mountaineer’s Canadian routes trains also feature double-decker GoldLeaf cars but they are too tall to pass through the relatively low tunnels on the route between Denver and Moab.
The beige leather seat was extremely comfortable and spacious, providing ample leg room. Food and drink were served at the seat on a large fold-down tray.
The lightly tinted window that I was sitting next to facilitated fine views of the scenery along the journey. Occasionally, I strolled into the vestibule to omit reflections from photos and photographed through the open window.
THE SERVICE: The hosts aboard the Rocky Mountaineer made me feel very welcome. They conversed with me, chatting about their backgrounds and how they weave their personal interests into stories when using a microphone and addressing guests.
Those stories enabled me to learn about the heritage of places along the route and the history of the railroad. I was shown the ring binder folder containing the basis for commentaries along the way and was struck that there’s a lot for hosts to master. They certainly knew their stuff as we travelled towards the end of the Rocky Mountaineer’s season. The hosts’ approachability and passion for what they do onboard the train made an outstanding impression.
At Glenwood Springs, Colorado, guests disembarked for the night. I overnighted in the Hotel Denver before a pre-dawn departure the following day. Again, my luggage was collected from my bedroom and taken to the station, across the street from the hotel. Complimentary hot drinks were available on the platform.
The food and drink supplied on the Rockies to Red Rocks route was of high quality and locally sourced. I enjoyed tasting bourbon and wine from Colorado, particularly while travelling through the state’s oldest wine-producing area, around Palisade.
No Wi-Fi is available aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Being present and living in the moment is part of the appeal of riding this luxury train, as it means being able to view scenery and interact with fellow passengers.
Rocky Mountaineer staff greeted the train into its Moab siding on time, early in the afternoon of the second day of travel. I remained in the area, which is a hub for adventure tourism, for four nights. The Utah state and national parks accessible from Moab are ideal for travellers who appreciate hiking, geology and photography.
THE VERDICT: Experiencing the Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to Red Rocks route was an enjoyable way of viewing landscapes between Denver and Moab. The food and drink served along the way made a positive impression yet the most outstanding aspect of the journey was the energy and engagement of the hosts.