You have to win the lottery! Once you win a crew slot in the Philmont lottery, the Journey begins. You have three options for getting to the Southwest to begin your adventure. Traveling with a group of Scouts is a challenge so this is an important part of your planning process. Trust us, you don’t want your crew to arrive at Philmont exhausted and annoyed. That is no way to begin a 100 mile hike…especially for the Advisors!
Option #1: The train to Raton, New Mexico. The appeal to this option is that it is cheap, however it can be a long and uncomfortable trip with frequent delays along the way. There is little time to acclimate to the high elevation before you begin your trek and you will be tired after an uncomfortable night of “sleep” on the train. Transportation from the train depot to base camp is costly at $45 per person. Additionally, this option is likely to fade away as the Raton stop on the Southwest Chief is increasingly susceptible to Amtrak’s budget woes. In fact, we believe that this rail line will be re-routed at some point in the next 3-5 years and that Raton will no longer be an option for Scouts traveling by Train.
Option #2: Drive to Philmont. This is also an inexpensive way to travel, but the logistics are very complicated for a group of 12. More than likely you will have to take multiple vehicles and that isn’t very fun for the youth as they miss the opportunity to bond with their entire crew prior to hitting the trail. Additionally, driving requires a lot of planning…you have to find Scout appropriate lodging, food stops, gas stops, etc. Not to mention, this has proven to be the most dangerous method of travel for Scouts. Believe it or not, the number one cause of fatalities in Scouting is vehicular accidents. Leave the long range driving to a professional when possible!
Option #3: Fly to the Southwest. While air travel can seem challenging and costly, it is the easiest and fastest way to travel over long distances. Additionally, some scouts may never have been on a plane, so this can be a thrilling new adventure to incorporate into their already exciting trip. This option allows you more time to get acclimated to the elevation and for sightseeing activities. When flying to Philmont, you have 3 different locations you can fly into: Denver, Colorado Springs, and Albuquerque. Denver usually provides the most flights and best prices for groups. We recommend Southwest Airlines because they are reliable and bags fly free! Most people are shocked to find out that Philmont is over 200 miles from the major airports in the region. From Denver to Philmont Scout Ranch, the drive time is about a 4.5 hours. From Colorado Springs or Albuquerque, it takes about 3 hours. Thinking about taking a cab, renting a car, or taking public transit? Think again. These are not viable options. Do yourself a favor and hire a professionally licensed and insured transportation provider with a good track record.
Keep all of the above in mind when planning your Journey to Philmont Scout Ranch. Come back next week for an inside look at the pitfalls to planning this trip on your own!