Our family continued our holiday tradition this past Saturday with our 5th year aboard the Santa Express Train out of Canon City, CO. Just a quick 2 hour drive outside of Denver, the Royal Gorge Railroad is transformed into a magical ride to the North Pole. With an amazing 30,000 lights that adorn the fun decorations, this experience is one for the entire family to enjoy. Each year as the holiday season approaches our children begin to ask when their journey on the Santa Express will take place. As part of our tradition we go shopping for new Christmas pajamas for them to wear. For them it is like their own train ride on the Polar Express. (Which is my son's favorite Christmas movie, btw.) Once we board the Santa Express it’s an hour and a half long ride filled with hot chocolate, cookies and of course, the arrival of the big man in the red suit. That’s right! As the train arrives at the North Pole families see Santa waving outside a well lit Christmas village. The Christmas village has several houses that are just the right size for Santa Elves. There are beautifully lit stars and my favorite, Gingerbread men. One of the first things we noticed was that the village had expanded it’s decorations from years past, making it even more exciting for the kiddos. During this part of the train ride our children love to take a walk through the train to one of the open air cars. It is a great place for getting the best view of Santa’s Village up close. It also makes for some cute photo opportunities for moms and dads. After a short stop, Santa boards the train and begins his stroll through each car to collect kiddos wish lists for Christmas. Don’t worry about bringing a list with you, as they are provided at the tables for children to fill out during the ride. When Santa walks into the train car it’s so fun to watch the children beam with excitement. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this special moment. After all, the years of “believing” end so quickly. Before Santa leaves he gives each child a small gift, a golden bell. It’s a great little token that the kids can take home to remember their time aboard the Santa Express. This year the Santa Express had the perfect setup for getting pictures with Santa aboard the train. In years past Santa went to the Depot for pictures after the train ride, but I liked this way much better. It was convenient and we were able to head straight to the car once returning for the drive back home. The Santa Express Train runs through December 26th with departures at 1pm, 5pm, 6pm and 8pm. The expanded schedule provides families with more times to fit in this holiday treat. The Historic Royal Gorge Route Railroad is located in west Cañon City at the Santa Fe Depot at 3rd & Hwy 50. For more information call 1.888.724.5748 Tickets are on sale now at SantaExpressTrain.com and RoyalGorgeRoute.com.