Eric Jacobson

Educational family fun along New Mexico’s northern border.

At the base of the 10,000-foot Cumbres Pass, the small town of Chama (really: there are fewer than 2,000 residents) is bordered by the Rio Grande and Santa Fe national forests, and offers numerous family-minded outdoor adventures. One of the most kid-friendly is a ride on the vintage railway between Chama, NM, and Antonito, CO, which allows for jaw-dropping scenery.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Book a ride on the narrow-gauge Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, whose vintage coal-powered locomotives chug through a stunning San Juan Mountains landscape for 64 miles, just over the border to Antonito (buses shuttle you back to Chama). Along the way you’ll cross the dizzying, 10,000-foot-high Cumbre Pass.

Elkhorn Cafe

A rustic, lodge-style dining room serving sopaipillas and green-chile enchiladas, the Elkhorn Cafe has sunny patio dining during the warmer months.

Chama Trails Inn

With handcrafted southwestern furniture and wood-paneled walls, the reasonably priced Chama Trails Inn feels homier than its simple motel exterior might suggest; it’s also close to the railway depot.

The Elkhorn Lodge & Café

Gather the children to the historic lodge’s on Saturday evenings to catch the Chuckwagon Cowboy Dinner show. Here, Wild West tales are told through guitar music and song as you dig into hearty ranch-hand staples like beef brisket, beans, and corn bread.

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