4 votes

UP - Moffat Tunnel


Train Exiting West Portal

Picture of train exiting the six-mile-long Moffat Tunnel at Winter Park, Colorado.

Photo taken by Christopher Ness on October 5, 2004

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

View this photo at Wikimedia Commons

BH Photo #245869


Street View 


Amtraks Through Moffat Tunnel

Amtrak's California Zephyr goes through the Moffat Tunnel in both directions everyday. I intercepted both #5 and #6 during my visit to Colorado in May.

Video posted by cchan006

Play video on YouTube


Historic railroad tunnel under Continental Divide about 50 miles west of Denver. Was among the longest in the world when completed in 1928, is today third longest railroad tunnel in the United States. Digging it was difficult, due to fractured bedrock and underground aquifers. The first train went through the tunnel in February 1928. In 1979, the tunnel was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Heavily used today for both freight and passenger trains, especially after the closing of the more challenging Tennessee Pass line in 1997. You can visit both portals, and you can ride through it on the Amtrak California Zephyr and Winter Park Express passenger trains.

The tunnel was built by the Moffat Tunnel Improvement District, an independent entity of the State of Colorado. The district was dissolved in 1998, and its assets, including the tunnel, passed directly to the state. The Union Pacific Railroad holds a lease until 2025.

After completion of the railroad tunnel, the pilot bore was converted to carry water from the Western Slope to Denver. This water tunnel was sold to the City of Denver when the district was dissolved in 1998.


Tunnel under Continental Divide west of Denver on Union Pacific RR
Winter Park, Grand County, Colorado, and Gilpin County, Colorado
Open to railroad traffic, including Amtrak's California Zephyr and Ski Train
Built 1923-1928
- Amtrak (AMTK)
- Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (DRGW)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
Railroad Tunnel
Total length: 32,788.0 ft. (6.2 mi.)
Deck width: 18.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 24.0 ft.
Also called
Main Range Tunnel
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.88743, -105.76133   (decimal degrees)
39°53'15" N, 105°45'41" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
13/434906/4415540 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
9239 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 55040 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 5, 2020: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • November 22, 2016: Updated by Roger Deschner: Add history; tunnel is actually owned by the State of Colorado
  • May 24, 2014: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added category "Aqueduct"; pilot bore carries water today
  • May 4, 2014: New photos from Roger Deschner
  • November 11, 2013: New Street View added by Brent Tindall
  • April 28, 2013: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added category "Historic Civil Engineering Landmark"
  • January 24, 2013: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added category "Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad"
  • December 29, 2012: Added by Roger Deschner

Related Bridges 



UP - Moffat Tunnel
Posted December 19, 2016, by george oakley (georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I read an article yesterday in the Reading Eagle confirming that the Winter Park express will start running January 7th.Amtrak is reporting that the trips are already sold out.Looks like snowbirds will be flocking to this resort.No pun intended.

UP - Moffat Tunnel
Posted November 22, 2016, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

The Ski Train will resume service on January 7, 2017, running from Denver Union Station, through the Moffat Tunnel, to Winter Park Resort. It will run Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays. It will be operated by Amtrak using Amtrak equipment. https://www.amtrak.com/winterparkexpress

UP - Moffat Tunnel
Posted July 15, 2015, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

There are reports that the Ski Train may resume service through the Moffat Tunnel carrying skiers from Denver to Winter Park Resort on winter weekends, starting this coming winter. The Ski Train had run on this route from 1940-2009. A trial run in March 2015, using Amtrak equipment, sold out in just hours. Details, including approval by the Union Pacific Railroad, are still being worked out.

Skiers are desperate to escape traffic congestion on I-70, so the movement to restart the Ski Train on the Moffat Route is gaining quite a bit of momentum. It's a 2-hour train ride, about equivalent to driving via I-70 if there were no traffic, but on winter weekends I-70 is typically very badly congested.

Denver Post story http://www.webcitation.org/6Y1F9uelm