You might not be able to make it out to Munich this September or October, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Oktoberfest in style. One of the most epic ways to celebrate the Bavarian beer fest is riding aboard the Oktoberfest train through the Royal Gorge in central Colorado.
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad runs a two-hour, round-trip ride that’s part three-course lunch feast, part scenic train excursion, and 100 percent German beer fest. Every day from September 8 to October 21, the train transitions from your average relaxing choo-choo into a business that greets people with the phrase, “Willkommen an bord der bier train!”
This rolling rager features lots of locally brewed beer — including a very special Oktoberfest Bier — paired with German food and views of the spectacular Royal Gorge. You can sit in the open-air car to take in the stunning 360-degree sights while listening to Barry, the resident Oktoberfest accordionist — yes, an accordionist.
Each trip runs along what was once the main rail line through the Rocky Mountains on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, past the namesake gorge that shoots 1,000 feet down for six miles. During Oktoberfest, visitors can ride in the Vista Dome or the regular cars. (Don’t worry, Barry stops by with his accordion either way.)
While the views are nice, the ride is still mainly about one thing: drinking beer. It makes sense that this type of celebration would happen in Colorado. Ever heard of a guy named Adolph Herman Joseph Coors, the German immigrant brewer who traveled west to start a brewery in Golden, Colorado? The state’s beer legacy has only expanded since then, and it’s now the home of the Brewers Association and American craft beer in general. The train takes advantage of that beer connection and serves beers from nearby Colorado breweries like San Luis Valley Brewing Company, SKA Brewery, Bristol Brewing, and New Belgium Brewing, a spokesperson for the Royal Gorge Route Railroad tells Matador. For non-beer drinkers, there are also local wines from Infinite Monkey Theorem and Holy Cross Abbey. Included with each Oktoberfest lunch is a commemorative Royal Gorge Route logo pint glass.
There are plenty of boozy train options these days — the Napa Wine Train, which also does tequila tours and beer tours, for example — but none are as seasonally appropriate for fall beer-drinking as the Royal Gorge Route Railroad’s Oktoberfest ride. The 1950s-era train leaves from Santa Fe Depot in Cañon City. Tickets cost $114 for seating in the Dome and $94 for seating in the dining car. Make a reservation with three or more of your friends (each booth seats four) and celebrate everyone’s favorite German holiday the right way.