I put “Amish tourism” in quotes in the title because those two words usually mean non-Amish tourists visiting Amish areas.
But this is the other, less-common meaning – Amish as tourists themselves. It turns out a good number of Amish people are rather fond of a Colorado hot springs resort town named Glenwood Springs, which happens to lie on an Amtrak train route.
It’s not explained in the article, but I’m guessing the scenic Western mountainous setting, health offerings, and easy train accessibility are reasons why Amish people like the place. Also, they might be coming for the whitewater rafting (more on that below).
Unfortunately for its regular riders, Amtrak will be cutting its California Zephyr line service to 3 days a week (due, of course, to you-know-what). Ken Murphy, who runs an outdoor activity company, comments:
Running from Chicago to San Francisco, the California Zephyr line brings thousands of visitors to Glenwood Springs each year and is the primary means of transport for the city’s thriving Amish tourism sector, said Ken Murphy, the Glenwood Adventure Company president.
“Train tourism has always been big for Glenwood,” Murphy said, explaining he helped market the area to groups who abstain from modern travel methods. “We have a lot of Amish visitors that come to us by train from Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.”
The Glenwood Adventure Company headlines with raft trips, but also offers a wide range of things including horseback riding and ATV tours. I wonder which are most popular with Amish customers.
Murphy has actively marketed the town to the Amish:
After building friendships with some of the Adventure Company’s Amish visitors, Murphy said he started visiting their communities and events where word spread about Glenwood Spring’s numerous attractions.
“It’s not a traditional tourist market, but family is everything for the Amish — they travel together,” he explained. “And, Glenwood Springs has something for everyone. Plus, we have a very respectful community that they enjoy visiting.”
Train traffic accounts for about 95 percent of the Adventure Company’s Amish customers, Murphy said.
In turn, the Amish are a decent chunk of the town’s visitors, according to the tourism director:
Glenwood Springs Tourism Director Lisa Langer said about 1 million people visit Glenwood Springs throughout the year, many of whom come by train.
“Our Amish visitors make up quite a significant number of our visitors in the summer and early fall,” Langer said. “And, we promote that train line heavily, especially to our international guests.”
In one of our recent “slice of life” posts we saw Amish travelers disembarking from an Amtrak train in Oregon. Amtrak is a mere drop in the bucket as far as how most Americans move around the country, and – I’m not going out on a limb here – probably always will be.
But of its riders, a disproportionate amount are the Amish. It’s why I once wrote a post called “Amishtrak“.
As for Glenwood Springs, hopefully this change won’t hurt the Amish visitorship that drastically. Regular service may be restored by next summer.