Weekend Window: San Juan National Forest

Nestled in Colorado's most southwestern corner, deep in the San Juan National Forest, sits a breathtaking canyon unreachable by roadways. It's a destination for those looking to travel off the beaten path.

"Visitors to the San Juan are first always struck by the beautiful scenery," forest supervisor Mark Stiles said. "You just can't beat the view."

One of the most enjoyable ways of seeing some of the most beautiful areas in the 1.8 million-acre national forest is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which runs right through the heart of it.

Part of the railroad's route runs along a stretch known as the highline, a grade cut right into the side of a cliff, Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad superintendent Evan Buchanan said.

"The passengers when they ride this train are in for a surprise, because this is the real deal -- this is an authentic railroad -- authentic equipment taking you through a wilderness area," said Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum curator Jeff Ellingson. "You're seeing this canyon the same way people saw it 125 years ago. It is exactly how it was."

There are no roads in the canyon and the railway is the only way to see parts of the forest -- unless you're ready to do some serious hiking.

"It's a wonderful feeling to end up in a place like this where you know you're the only one in here. The train has the only access into the canyon," Buchanan said. "It's a real treat to come down here by yourself, listen to this nice stillness and the beautiful sounds of the river traveling by. It's just wonderful."

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