My Father and I will be in Como on July 15th to work on the railroad. We will have some extra days after that to go explorer.
Want to know of things we should really try and see, photograph, measure. Looking for suggestions?
Plan to ride the train in Leadville and Georgetown. Is it worth it?
Any Mine tours we should check out ?
Should we spend some time at the South Park Historical Foundation in Fairplay?
We plan to head South (285) through Fairplay, over to St Elmo.
Then back up through Buena Vista and Leadville. (24) Want to see the Colorado Midland tunnels.
Then up to Georgetown via (70).
Then on to Idaho Springs and back to Denver.
Will check out Morrison on the way to, or back from Como.
Would love to get up to Alpine tunnel. Not sure we will have time or the vehicle to do that.
You may want to check out Guanella Pass road from Georgetown south to Grant where it joins Colorado 285. The pass road is 22 miles long and under typical condition takes about and hour to drive. At the top of the pass on the south side you get an excellent view of South Park. Check local conditions but it is passable in an automobile and 4 wheel drive is not required.
While driving south out of Fairplay, follow the signs and take a left on hwy 9(?) towards Hartsel. You will go through Garo and the by the Turner store. You will end up in the town of Hartsel where there is still the Midland depot and a few other out buildings. You can then turn back around and head back south on Hwy 24 (following the Midland grade on your right for a ways) which will take you back to 285 just north of Trout Creek pass. Its a quick 45 minute detour but lots to see.
since you were headed West from Morrison along 285 might I suggest taking the Foxton road just past Conifer to bring you down onto the Platte river and follow the roadbed from there, through Foxton, Riverview, Buffalo and Pine? I don't know about the roadbed west of Pine is driveable since I returned to 285. Look for the tank footings at Riverview and Dome Rock is only a 4 mile backtrack from where the Foxton road meets the Platte.
You also asked about mine tours:
I'd suggest the Lebanon tour that is an extra $ part of the Georgetown Loop trip, this is well worth it and is a fairly dry easy walk in type of mine drive. Unless you are tall, since 5'5" would be about the height of the back there. There is also another mine recently opened for touring at the loop but I have no experience of that. In Breckenridge out on the French Gulch road there is the Country Boy mine tour. This is another flat mine drive type but somewhat higher timbering. They now have a Motor visible on their webpage, so the tour maybe with a minetrain. Finally the best mine tour by far is the Molly Kathleen at Cripple Creek which is a bit out of the way but so worth it. This is a vertical shaft, some 900 to1800 ft down depending on your tour guide's knowledge, the cage is a bit of a squeeze but there is a compressed air-powered tram ride below with a working explanation of mine equipment, just make sure you take earplugs since it is very difficult to photograph/film and block both ears at once.
As for the train trips, GTL is great, the L,C&S is longer at a more relaxed slower pace, remember even if it is diesel powered, it still runs on the roadbed of the DSP&P
If you're going as far as St Elmo, it isn't much of a walk up from Hancock to Atlantic at the East Portal. This is the lesser visited part, some awesome scenery to be seen with the r-o-w. Depending on the weather, if you are fit, hike over to Alpine, that's only a short breathless hike.
If you're going that far take US 50 over Monarch Pass to Parlin and take the black top to Ohio City.Pitkin,and the grade up to the west side of Alpine Tunnel.Due to damage to the rock wall at the Palisades,you'll have to walk the rest of the way from Woodstock Loop to the Tunnel,roughly the same distance as from Hancock to the east portal.
And when you climb over Kenosha Pass on 285, be sure to take the Forest Service road to the camp ground at the summit (left turn, going west). Park and explore the rebuilt tail track of the C&S wye, and walk along the grade to the little lake. Spectacular scenery on a clear day!
Or...you can start at Hancock, hike to East Portal, scramble over the hill, surprise the heck out of everyone at Alpine Tunnel (break for lunch and enjoy the sights), walk downgrade to the Palisades, then head back up over the wagon road through a beautiful valley to your ride at Hancock.