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Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

Edina, MN
Level Contributor
27 posts
2 reviews
Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

Are we nuts to take the Amtrak from Chicago to Glenwood Springs, then walk a couple blocks to 9th St. to grab the RFTA bus to Snowmass Village (transfer enroute at Brush Creek)?

We've always wanted to try a train vacation. We'd rent a car, but will be arriving in Glenwood Springs on Sunday and the only car rental is closed.

It seems once we arrive at Snowmass we can get around quite easily by shuttle for groceries and ski-rentals and skiing different places.

Will we regret not having a rental car?

Are there grocery stores in Snowmass Village?

What ski-in, ski-out condos are closest to the RFTA bus stops in the village? It looks like the stops are only at Stonebridge and the Mall....

Thanks for everyone's input!

Boulder, Colorado
Level Contributor
2,070 posts
1. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

I'd say the train idea sounds great but my only question is are you lugging your board/skis and boots with you? If yes, reconsider and rent at 4 Mtn Sports --do it in advance online.

Definitely do not need to rent a car once in place. Bus service is very good and much quicker than a car when you want to go into Aspen itself . . . single lane and the infamous "S" curve make it a sloooow go. That's all I know. Enjoy.

Destination Expert
for Colorado
Level Contributor
11,474 posts
178 reviews
2. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

I don't know about the stretch from Chicago to Denver on Amtrak, but I've been a couple of times from Grand Junction to Denver and back and we loved it! And now want to take a longer trip, so if you have the time, I don't think you're crazy.

Aspen, CO
Level Contributor
980 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

I think it might be a little crazy, though, as Love2ski said, it will depend on how luggage-intensive you are and also who the "we" are. Bringing children? I personally would not do the dragging luggage onto RFTA business and certainly not if you have a handful of kids to go with it, but if you are renting ski equipment once here it might be okay.

Once you get to the intercept lot at Brush Creek and 82 you may not need to switch to village shuttle or another RFTA. Many hotels and condos provide local shuttle service as far as the airport and they could probably pick you up there.

To your other questions, no, definitely do not rent a car once here. Yes, groceries are easy in Snowmass and accessible on the village shuttle, for ski in/out don't worry about close to the bus stop at that point. Snowmass is tiny...you'll either have a property with service that can pick you up at the intercept lot or you'll get the village shuttle up to the village and probably quite close to your condo.

Edina, MN
Level Contributor
27 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

Thanks for your input! The "we" is a family of four (kids are 16 & 14 - very self sufficient). We travel a ton and pack light. We'll likely rent all or most or our ski equipment and make sure the condo has a washer and dryer.

So...we are going to give this train vacation a try! It won't take any longer on the train than driving it (assuming you stopped enroute). And it was only $497 RT for the whole family! The Colorado portion is suppose to be beautiful!

I'll report back after the trip in early April. Thanks again for the info!

Locals Only
8 posts
5. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

I've actually done the Amtrack Chicago-Denver & the Denver-Glenwood. Awesome. Loved the train- something to consider: glenwood is awesome! Go to the hotsprings & stop by the Hotel Colorado (Doc Holiday stayed there).

However, the Glenwood-Snowmass bus ride? With ALL your gear? Yeah, you might be insane. I wouldn't do, but that's me.

My advice? Stay in Glenwood for sun night (trust me, after all that time on the train, it will be nice to get out and shower and sleep in a real bed for a night). There is a ton of great places to stay, and really good restaurants in Glenwood. Check Juicy Lucy's if you seek the best steak dinner of your life. Then on Monday, rent a car & drive to snowmass.

Having a car will actually be an asset- you will be able to go to Aspen easier (and the town is cool), you'll be able to get to places to eat MUCH easier (esp. with kids in tow), etc. With a car, you'll have much more freedom & flexibility, and no waiting after sunset in 10 degree weather for the bus to come.... hopefully soon. (I actually live in Snowmass part-time, trust me. Take the car)

I wander the world
Level Contributor
4,745 posts
25 reviews
6. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

as a side note... be prepared for possible delays. My parents have been on the train from Junction to Denver twice... the train was hours off schedule both times.

Even with delays they took the same train to Chicago last fall.

Should be good fun.

Edina, MN
Level Contributor
27 posts
2 reviews
7. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

Well we are back from our train trip to Snowmass, and it worked just fine! We weren't nuts....and were much more relaxed from NOT driving for two 8 hours days each way, plus stopping for meals, potty breaks, hotel, etc.

Here's how we did it. We are a family of four, kids are 14 & 16. The small Iowa station we boarded from did not offer checked luggage, so we were limited to two bags each, plus purses/briefcase. Only one family member took ski equipment, the rest rented - that was key. The set of skis,poles,boots and 2 helmets accounted for 2 of our carry ons alone. Then with the remaining 6 carry-ons we packed 1 more helmet, snowpants, Aspres clothes, etc and detergent to wash everything mid-week in the condo. We ended up with each family member having a medium/large size backpack plus one other bag to carry, plus my husband took his briefcase/laptop as a ninth bag.

The train to Colorado was within 10 minutes of schedule at both ends. The train returning from Colorado left the station 1 hour late and arrived 4.5 hours late due to high winds thru Nebraska. A little know fact - trains must stop if winds exceed 50 MPH. The late arrival was not a big deal for us, as we had mentally prepared for possible delays.

Train food was surprisingly good and reasonably priced. For instance, Breakfast entrees (omelets, french toast, etc) included coffee, tea or milk AND a choice of juice. None of the Entrees were priced more than $9.00 including beverages. Lunches were in the $10-15 range, and Dinner in the $15-$20 range, again, including beverages. So similar to a Perkins in price and quality. We also noticed that many train riders had packed coolers with full meals, drinks, etc. - that's allowed. A snack car is also available with items like you find at a gas station -pre-packaged muffins, mini-frozen pizzas, etc. - I thought those items were way overpriced. A small bag of chips was over $2.

We didn't get a sleeper car, and while it would have been nice, we were still able to get an okay night's sleep in the seats. There is good leg room, with some recline to the seat and leg rests that pull up. Pillows are provided, but, not blankets. We had taken our own travel size pillows and blankets and that was a good idea.

The observation car was a fun place to hang and enjoy the scenery. It was gorgeous between Denver and Glenwood Springs with over 14 tunnels and lots of wildlife.

Upon arrival in Glenwood, we walked two blocks to catch the RFTA bus to Snowmass. The bus was $6.00 each way per person and was a breeze. No problem with the amount of luggage. You can find bus schedules and stops online - just google RFTA.

RFTA also offers a Zipline express bus (fewer stops) that was well timed to connect to the train. It left Glenwood Springs about 45 minutes after the train arrives and leaves the Snowmass area around 9:15 in the morning. Some of the buses do require a transfer midway if not on a direct. This was the most confusing part - was trying to figure out if a certain RFTA bus required transfers or was direct.

Upon arrival at the Brush Creek Intercept lot, our hotel met us and picked us up. However, we could have easily have just transfered to another RFTA bus and gone right into Snowmass Village.

When we returned to Glenwood Springs, the train station was happy to store our bags (just $3,00 for up to 6 bags!) while we spent a few hours walking/exploring/having lunch in GS. That was key to not have to lug bags around. We had a great lunch right across the street at the Brewery - great burgers/service!

All in all, we would definitely recommend this as part of a ski trip from the midwest area (Iowa/ Illinois/ Minnesota/ Wisconsin) -- as long as you are disciplined packers, don't mind some bag schlepping, willing to do laundry mid week, and rent most ski equipment. It was a fun adventure and my husband and I agreed we would definitely do it again - we much prefer'd the train to 4 - 8 hour days in the car (two days each way).

But, to each his own....hopefully, I've given you enough details to determine if it would work for your family.

Littleton, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,855 posts
57 reviews
8. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

Excellent trip report, and immensely helpful for those who might be considering a trip like this. Thanks for sharing and glad your trip went so well!

9. Re: Amtrak & RFTA to Snowmass-Are we NUTS?

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