From the romance of the rails and authentic Native American culture to breathtaking scenery and endless outdoor recreation, Colorado’s newest Scenic and Historic Byway is a richly layered journey through two states. Spanning southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico, the 125-mile route traces the narrow gauge right-of-way of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, connecting over 800 years of Colorado history.
Tracks Across Borders tells one of Colorado’s greatest stories: the creation and development of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, the state’s first, and ultimately the nation’s largest, narrow gauge railroad system. Once connected via the railroad, Durango, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico, serve as gateway cities linking the two National Historic Landmarks.
From the sweeping San Juan Mountains and mesa panoramas to wild, lush riparian ecosystems along the San Juan and Navajo Rivers, the Tracks Across Borders Byway accesses one of Colorado’s least traveled regions. The route offers many unique Colorado stories related to the railroad, Native American and Hispanic culture and prehistory. Along the way dozens of opportunities beckon travelers to get out of the car and enjoy recreational activities for every age, interest and ability level, including biking, hiking, climbing, jeep tours, fishing, river sports, winter sports and lake activities.
Tracks Across Borders Travel Itinerary
- Starting in Durango, experience the Old West aboard the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, or visit the free D&SNGRR Train Museum for a wide array of artifacts, equipment, tools, maps, rail cars, model train displays, wildlife exhibits and more.
- Head south to Ignacio, where the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum provides film presentations, exhibits, a full-size teepee, ceremonial clothing, and a series of rotating exhibits.
- Continue east to Chimney Rock, Colorado’s newest National Monument. The Ancestral Puebloans used the two spires, Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, as a celestial observatory and calendar.
- Next the byway skirts along the north end of Navajo Lake, a little-known environmental and recreational gem in the Colorado and New Mexico State Parks systems offering year-round boating, sailing and fishing.
- Crossing into New Mexico, the byway continues along the San Juan River to Chama, home to the Jicarilla Apache Nation Reservation. The route ends in Chama, New Mexico, home of the historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.
2018 Summer Events - Highlights
A variety of family friendly events steeped in history and local tradition take place in the communities along the Tracks Across Borders Byway. The following is a curation of must-add events to enhance your travel itinerary.
- April 20 - 22 - Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. Three days of incredible national recording artists, regional, and local bluegrass bands take over downtown Durango.
- May 20 - Taste of Durango. Featuring local craft breweries, artisan cocktails, and countless samples of the world-class cuisine that Durango's restaurants offer.
- May 25 - Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic has pitted bike against train since 1972. The course is a spectacular climb along the mountainous Highway 550 traveling from Durango to Silverton.
- June 1st - Durango Blues Train. Experience a 3.5 hour moving musical experience providing two consecutive evenings of live blues while traveling on the Historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's coal-fired, steam-powered train.
- June 2nd - 35th Annual Animas River Days. The Animas River Day parade is a favorite event for locals. The day begins with whitewater slalom and continues with freestyle kayaking, boater-cross, surf competitions, a raft sprint and river parade.
- May thru Oct - Durango Farmers Market.
- June 23 - 29 - Durango Fiesta Days. Established in 1935, the event features a week-long celebration of Durango with family-friendly events such as a parade, rodeos, a chuckwagon cook off, and a BBQ & street dance.
- Ongoing – Exhibits at the Southern Ute Museum, free admission.
- June 21 - Summer Solstice Sunrise. Observe the summer solstice and take a guided tour of the National Monument and ancient ruins of Chimney Rock mesa.
- May 26 - Dances of the Ancients. Witness Native American dances amid the beautiful Ponderosa Pines of the San Juan National Forest.
- May 29 - Full Moon Celebration. Each month during the summer, watch the full moon rise and learn about Native cultures and their likely relationships with the moon, sun, and stars.
- July 21 - 22 - Life at Chimney Rock Festival. Free, family-oriented festival demonstrates ancient tools and crafts with hands-on demonstrations with artisans and more.
- May 26 - Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Opening Day. Celebrate all day with train rides through the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado aboard a coal-fired steam engine.
- July 4th - 4th of July Fireworks Celebration. Ride the special Fourth of July Train then kick back and enjoy one of the best fireworks display in the State.
- Aug. 10 - 12 - Chama Days. Three days of family fun with softball and basketball tournaments, an old-fashioned parade, Saturday night dance, and professional rodeo.
- Historic towns of Durango and Chama
- The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
- Navajo Lake State Park
- Chimney Rock National Monument
- Jicarilla Apache Nation
- Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum
The Durango area is Southwest Colorado’s premier four-season destination, attracting more than one million visitors annually. Please contact Theresa Blake Graven for media inquiries, or visit www.durango.org/ for more information.
About Durango Area Tourism Office
The Durango Area Tourism Office (DATO) is an independent non-profit organization operating with the mission to promote Durango and La Plata County’s multitude of tourism attractions, events and services. The unbeatable combination of the iconic San Juan Mountains, art galleries, culinary fare, cultural and historic sites make it the perfect base of operations to explore Southwest Colorado. Visit DATO’s full-service Welcome Center, located at Main Avenue and 8th Street in the heart of historic downtown Durango, or online at www.durango.org. Follow @visitdurango on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.