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By Tammy Kennon, Special for USA Today

Royal Gorge Route
Cañon City, Colo.

Talk about a dramatic setting: snaking through Colorado’s grand canyon, a 1,000-foot-deep granite crevasse known as the Royal Gorge. The train ride begins and ends at the depot in Cañon City, about 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, and traces the path of the river on tracks laid in the 1880s.

An open-air car allows for the full impact of the cliffs towering overhead, the raging river rapids – and often rafters. You might also spot some of Colorado’s famous residents: bighorn sheep, bald eagles and blue herons.

Train service through the canyon runs year round, January through December with a few special-occasion runs such as New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas. Dining options include breakfast, bistro-style lunch and a menu for young riders. Entrees from the 403 Grill are are in the $10-20 range. Dinner has the most extensive menu along with suggested wine pairings from executive chef Jeremy Garnett. All menus feature local and organic ingredients.

The lounge has a full bar that includes local wines and microbrews, featuring Royal Gorge Route Rogue, an English IPA brewed for the train by San Luis Valley Brewing Co.

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