Riding and Chasing the Cumbres & Toltec Railways

4 Days - Chama, NM
Sep 26 - Sep 29, 2022
Activity Level
Skill Level
All Levels


Registration deadline: August 15, 2022

Pay a deposit of $500.00 per item

Coal-fired, steam-operated, narrow-gauge locomotives share a rich history in expanding the American West.   The Cumbres Toltec railroad was originally constructed as an extension to the Rio Grande’s narrow gauge San Juan, to serve the silver mining district of Southern Colorado.  As more flexible standard-gauge trains came online to serve industry, many of the narrow-gauge locomotives were abandoned.  Fortunately, train enthusiasts, along with the states of New Mexico and Colorado saw the glory in the Cumbres Toltec Railroad and purchased and restored the most scenic stretch of this railway.


Situated along the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, the Cumbres Toltec departs from Chama and begins its steep climb into the mountains. With the highway running parallel along several stretches, we will position ourselves in optimal locations to capture the steam locomotives rounding bends through groves of pine and shimmering aspens or traveling across the high trestle that spans the rushing waters of Wolf Creek below and the Rio Chama Bridge.


When not chasing the locomotives, we will capture a different perspective as we ride the rails from Chama to Osier.  Here you can photograph from your seat through manually-opened windows or visit the adjourning open-car where you can capture unobstructed views of the steam engine chugging around a mountain pass in breath-taking scenery.


Of course, there is plenty to photograph at the railway depot as the train breaks bank, the engine is filled with coal, to the boiler blowdown where water is intentionally wasted by steam pressure within.   Now is the time to come all aboard for this journey for picturesque mountain scenery and a hop back in time.

Workshop includes:

  • Photographic instruction
  • Roundtrip transportation from Santa Fe, NM
  • Three nights lodging based on single occupancy
  • Water, snacks, picnic lunch, lunch on train and group meal
  • Pre-workshop Webinar
  • Post-workshop Critiques

Please be aware that shooting locations stated in this itinerary may change. Each day we will determine which locations are best based on light and weather.  We want to give you the best photo opportunities possible.


Day 1: Monday, September 26, 2022

  • The workshop will depart from the Best Western Plus in Santa Fe at 8:00 am for our drive to Chama.
  • Upon arrival, the group will stop for lunch and then check in to our accommodations
  • After a brief orientation, we will shoot around the Chama Depot, and shoot the Cumbres Toltec coming downgrade into Chama.
  • Group welcome dinner.

Day 2: Tuesday, September 27, 2022

  • We will depart before sunrise to shoot the Cumbres and Toltec depot to capture the steam locomotives warming their engines, filling with coal, breaking the bank and the blowdown.
  • We will spend the day chasing the train from various overlooks and perspectives.
  • The day will end with an image critique following dinner.

Day 3: Wednesday, September 28, 2022

  • We will begin our day with a sunrise shoot of fall colors then return for breakfast before our train ride.
  • Arriving at the depot by 9:30 am we will board our rail car for our journey to Osier.   We will have quick access to the open car to photograph the scenic fall color and steam locomotives coming around the bend.
  • Arriving in Osier, we will enjoy a break for lunch before our return trip to Chama.
  • We will return to the lodge for a break before dinner.  Time permitting we will capture a sunset shoot prior to dinner.

Day 4: Thursday, September 29, 2022

  • We will rise early for one last run at chasing the steam locomotive before returning for breakfast.
  • We will hold one last critique before checking out and driving back to Santa Fe arriving early afternoon.

Activity Rating:  Easy to Moderate

Minimal hiking is required, less than ¼ mile at any location. Physical dexterity is required. This is a fast-moving workshop while shooting so we can exit and enter the vans in a safe, short amount of time.

The Workshop will Depart from / Return to:

Best Western Plus
3650 Cerrillos Rd
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Phone: (505) 438-3822

The workshop will depart from the Best Western Plus in Santa Fe.  A courtesy block of rooms is available the night prior. This hotel is NOT included in your workshop fees. Please reserve directly with the hotel no later than August 8, 2022.  After this date rooms will be released and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Lodging During the Workshop

Chama Riverbend Lodge
2625 Hwy 84/64
Chama, NM
Phone: 575.756.2264

During this workshop, we will stay at the Chama Riverbend Lodge for three nights.  This lodging is included in your workshop fees.

Kerrick James
Vicki Uthe
Photo Guide
There are a number of reputable companies that provide Travel Insurance.  For your convenience, we offer travel protection through TravelEx Insurance Services.  For more information on the available plans or to enroll, go to www.travelexinsurance.comor contact TravelEx Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-0147.  Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. W20
Should you find it necessary to cancel your workshop, the following cancellation policy applies – NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • 91 days or more prior to the start of the workshop your deposit will be refunded less $100
  • 90 days full payment is due
  • 61-90 days your workshop fees will be refunded in the form of an AHPS Store Credit Voucher less $100 administrative fee.  The voucher is good for 18 months.
  • * 60 days or less until departure – No refund.

* If we are able to fill your seat and the workshop runs at full enrollment we will refund your workshop fees less the $100 administrative fee.


NOTE:  Workshop bookings including, but not limited to, outfitters, permit agencies, lodging and more are requiring firm financial commitments at 90 days.  Therefore, in order to continue to bring you to great destinations, we must strictly adhere to our cancellation policy as outlined above. We recognize cancellations can sometimes be unavoidable that is why securing a Travel Protection Plan is highly encouraged.


Arizona Highways PhotoScapes reserves the right to cancel or change any workshop if our minimum enrollment is not met or if situations beyond our control arise that may create unsafe or undesirable travel conditions.  Any cancelation or postponement as a result of situations beyond our control, AHPS does not promise any refunds or credits.  If and when feasible, we will attempt to reschedule the workshop at a later date.  Alternatively, we may decide to issue you credit for a future workshop, or issue a refund, less any non-refundable deposits we have paid to workshop providers on your behalf.


Please note that AHPS is not liable for any additional participant expenses incurred such as airfare, hotel accommodations, or any other components booked outside of the workshop.

PAYMENT TERMS:  A minimum deposit is due at registration to reserve your space.  Please refer to the specific workshop for the required deposit.  Final payments are due 90 days prior to departure.  Approximately 15 days prior to the due date you will receive a reminder email that your balance is coming due.