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  1. #1

    Default Durango/Silverton railroad down for the count

    Just a heads up. Due to a mudslide, part of the tracks between Dogwood(I think that's right) and Durango are unusable, so the railroad's operations are limited. They're sending passengers to Dogwood by bus, train goes from there.
    As of two days ago, all wilderness access via the train had still been "suspended through the remainder of the year", though I'm sure this is subject to change if the tracks are repaired. They just don't know when that will be...

    For my friend and me, that's going to mean a shuttle to Molas Pass vs. getting off the train at Elk Park, and out via the river trail instead of catching the train at Needleton. Hate that he'll miss experiencing the train ride, but I'm ok with padding my mileage and pretending it was a great ordeal(since the extra miles are pretty much all downhill!).

  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    My granddaughter and I had planned to use the train in early August. Unfortunately they weren’t taking backpackers until after we had to start back home.
    I’m now 0 for 2.
    Y’all have a good trip!
    Wayne

  3. #3

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    Thanks!
    Going earlier than planned to accomodate my buddy's schedule, so the severe weather advisory has been moved to Sept. 15-21.

  4. #4

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    I don't know where they stand as far as getting the train on its normal schedule or resuming backcountry access, but we used Buckhorn Limousine as a shuttle service, and it was actually less expensive than the train would have been.
    We went in at Molas Pass, and hiked down to Elk Park(then did the Elk Park/Needleton loop except staying with the CDT to Twin Lakes, then over to Rock Lake and down the Rock Creek Trail back to the Vallecito). That was pretty cool, since I never made it to Rock Lake last time, coming from the other direction and getting trapped by a storm before the final climb.


    Anyway, to make a long story long, hiking in cost us zero time in the whole scheme of things. Even with a side trip to Molas Lake, we had to wait to watch the train come through Elk Park. The hike down from Molas Pass was beautiful. The colors were popping, and 2 of our 3 moose encounters on day 1 happened as a result.
    On the other end, hiking out via the Animas River Trail to the Purgatory Creek Trail was also beautiful-tons of color around Purgatory Flats. 9 more extra miles, but they went quickly.
    I really enjoyed the train ride my first trip to the Weminuche, but the way we did it this time is now my preferred method.


    btw, we were blessed with good weather, and it only rained from below Columbine Pass and over into Chicago Basin on the next to the last day, and then again the last night.
    My first backpacking trip out West that was not solo, and first(of 8!) to not feature some kind of insane weather. My friend's luck with the weather is about the same as mine, so I guess we made a double negative!

  5. #5
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Great news in every way! Thanks for sharing.
    Wayne

  6. #6

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    Rockwood Station, btw.
    My gf and I rode the train from Rockwood to Silverton last year, July 21 2018. It did start from Durango, but we we're staying close to the Rockwood Station, so that's where we boarded.
    It was my first train ride (that I remember - apparently I was on a train once as a young child). Loved every bit of the experience! The smell of the coal fire, the chugga chugga noises, the elk, the scenery, the period correct staff... I felt like a kid, it was great.

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  8. #8

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    FYI: D&S Railroad is not currently running to Silverton or providing wilderness access. Their site says no bookings before Aug 15, and to check back later for updates.
    Same friend and I may go back in late September, at least it's on the list of options(with different add-ons to the loop), and I'd like for him to experience the train ride if we do.
    We both really liked going in at Molas Pass and out Purgatory Flats last time, so I guess it's good, either way.

  9. #9

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    "The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad remains OPEN and we will be extending our Cascade Canyon Express train excursions to the end of the Summer and through the Fall season. However, due to COVID19 and limitations to adhere to social distancing on our trains, we are cancelling our excursions to Silverton for the remainder of the 2020 season."
    So no more Elk Park/Needleton Loop for 2020. Long haul for anyone just wanting to get to Chicago Basin!

  10. #10
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    The Old Standby:
    Vallecito Creek Trailhead & Campground.
    The RV Park a mile or so before I Trailhead parking allows campers and backpackers to use their showers for a nominal charge.
    Trade some sweat equity for saving money on the train.
    Cheers! Be safe Y’all!
    Wayne

  11. #11

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    We're gonna do the Molas Pass to Purgatory Flats thing with a shuttle again, and probably different add-ons to the loop from last time.

    btw, that river trail exit is not bad, but not "all downhill" as I originally expressed it, either.
    I've had to learn to choose my words more carefully, because my friend and I tease each other a lot.
    If I've made that claim, and the trail starts rising, however gently, in front of us...omigosh. It begins, and I get to hear ALL about it

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    So no more Elk Park/Needleton Loop for 2020. Long haul for anyone just wanting to get to Chicago Basin!
    [/FONT][/COLOR]
    Well, not that long for Chi-basin visiting folks using the Purgatory approach vs. train/Needleton, an extra 8 miles, and pretty darn easy 8 miles. 3 miles mostly downhill followed by 5 flat miles along the river. Having been in that area a half dozen times or more (there are probably 50+ high 13ers in there, plus the 3 14ers), we much prefer the Purgatory approach vs. the train. The couple times we DID ride the train (first couple of trips in) we hated having to stick to the train schedules coming out (and even going in). 8 extra miles is well worth it.

    All that being said, the train is worth riding precisely once.

    Have fun whatever you mean by "molas to purgatory flats". Do you mean west of 550 (like along the CT) or east of 550? Maybe you say below, I'll check it out.

    Edit: Ahh, I see now, yep, that's a fine hike.

    My wife and I are planning a nice loop down there in September (and more 13ers), can't get enough of the San Juans.

  13. #13
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    Dont recall any Dogwood stop or location.

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