Cheers greet Rocky Mountaineer train passengers Sunday for maiden overnight in Glenwood Springs

Crowds cheer the arrival of the Rocky Mountaineer Rockies to the Red Rocks stop in Glenwood Springs on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
John Stroud/Post Independent

After a family train tour was rudely interrupted by the pandemic last year, the Blakely family of Rochester, N.Y., was excited to learn about the new Rocky Mountaineer “Rockies to the Red Rocks” route from Denver to Moab.

Joe Blakely Sr., 90, was joined by his grown children on the luxury train, which made its inaugural overnight stop to much public fanfare in downtown Glenwood Springs Sunday evening.

“I’ve been on a few trains, but none like this before,” Blakely said. “Wonderful hospitality, great food. … Everything was just super nice.”

It was the first trip through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for Joe Jr. To do it by train was pretty special, he said.

“This place is gorgeous, and we’ll be back to explore, for sure,” he said. “The planet wins. It was just gorgeous.”

The two-day train tour takes riders from Denver to Glenwood Springs on the first day, with an overnight in Glenwood at one of the local hotels and whatever they can pack into the evening. Monday morning, it’s on to Moab to complete the tour.

A Rocky Mountaineer train passenger documents the occasion upon disembarking from the train in Glenwood Springs Sunday evening.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Larry and Virginia Newby from Eugene, Oregon, are avid Oregon Ducks fans, and made sure everyone knew it. Larry even has an OU community volunteer business card with the name Larry “Go Ducks” Newby printed across it.

“It was spectacular to say the least,” he said. “The scenery is indescribable. We look forward to exploring Glenwood Springs and seeing what it’s all about.”

Glenwood Mayor Jonathan Godes was joined by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in welcoming the train and its passengers to town, along with Rocky Mountaineer founder Peter Armstrong.

Bennet happened to be in town for a tour of the mudslide damage in Glenwood Canyon, which closed the Union Pacific rail line for a few days and Interstate 70 for 15 days before it was partially reopened on Saturday.

“I know what a hard year it’s been here in many respects because of the fires, COVID and floods,” Bennet said. “But there is something to celebrate with a new train come to town. That’s pretty exciting when you’re a railroad community.”

Armstrong thanked the hundreds of residents who came out to welcome the train and its passengers.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes, left, reads a proclamation and makes a presentation to Rocky Mountaineer founder Peter Armstrong during the festivities Sunday evening.
John Stroud/Post Independent

“We are humbled and so honored by your presence,” he said. “We want to be your partner in this community and support you in any way we can to build a great new train experience.”

Among the onlookers was Don Willins of Carbondale, who got one of the limited train car tours.

“When I was growing up in Cincinnati, I would go by myself at maybe 13 or 14 and take the train to see my grandmother 92 miles away in Chillicothe, Ohio,” he said. “Ever since then I’ve really loved trains.

“This train is just beautiful, and I’m especially excited about the fact that this will be a major stop here in Glenwood Springs,” Willins said. “I look forward to saving my money and being on it.”

After all of the challenges of the past year, Mayor Godes said it was just fun to celebrate something for a change.

“In a normal year this would be a banner event for the community, but with the timing of the canyon opening this weekend along with everything else we’ve been through, it just feels like a confluence of events,” Godes said.

Passengers and onlookers mingle Sunday evening as the Rocky Mountaineer Rockies to the Red Rocks train made its inaugural overnight stop in Glenwood Springs.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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