GORNERGRAT - THE MATTERHORN RAILWAY
Zermatt To Gornergrat Kulm and Glaciers
In a 45 minute trip up the slopes of the Alps from the center of Zermatt to the Gornergrat Glacier below the peak of Monte Rosa, the Gornergrat-Matterhorn does’texactly take you to the Matterhorn, but offers some of the best views of the famous mountain wiith its never the same weather patterns and changing snows. This cog wheel tram in metallic orange winds up the slopes past ski and resort stops to the Gornergrat kulm or summit. The view from the top of the route takes in 29 magnificent snow covered rocky mountain peaks and 7 glaciers between them which feed into the Gornergrat Glacier, the second longest glacier in the Swiss Alps
The Gornergrat Bahn (originally the Gornergrat-Monte-Rosa Railway) was the first cog rack railway built in Switzerland operated by electricity and made Zermatt and the surrounding area of the southern Swiss Alps one of the most popular mouatun destinations. Opening in 1898, the Gornergrat Bahn was the first cog system rack railway run by electricity to be built in Switzerland and served to make Zermatt and this area of the Swiss Alps one of the best Swiss mountain destinations. At the top of the ride at 10,134 ft altitude, is a viewing plaza to observe the glaciers and peaks. A short walk beyond and above the rail terminus is the Gornergrat Kulm Hotel, the highest of the classic mountaintop hotels in Switzerland. The hotel was built in 1905 and completely renovated in 2005, after a hundred years and is one of the most unique hotel stays in Europe, with the mountain peaks and snows just outside the room windows.
In Zermatt, the Gornergrat Bahn station is directly across from the main railway station in from where the Glacier Express departs and arrives. As passengers pre-board, a little movie describes the trip while waiting for the next departure. Then, as you leave Zermatt, the track climbs around the back side of this unique alpine village, over stone shale rooftops, as the cog wheels under the coach pull up the grade. The train is more like a city tram than a main rail coach in style. The large windows offer clear views of the mountains, especially the distinctive peak of the Matterhorn, which remains in view for much of the trip, slowing touring in angle. The top portion of the windows can be opened, for clearer photographic views, but can make the trip a bit chilly except in summer. As with any of the mountain trains, views vary with the weather. Mornings are generally better than afternoons, but when the sky is clear and the sun caresses the peak it is one of the most impressive scenic views the world has to offer.
The Gornergrat Bahn is not only a tourist ride but a local transportation making stops at five stations along the route, mostly for sports and activities destinations and resorts, which in summer offers mountain biking and hiking, while in winter provides access to the 250 miles of ski runs which track through the mountains. If you don’t have skis, toboggans can be rented from the railway at the Rotenbodeen station. The Riffelalp Resort lodge and skiing can be reached from the Riffelalp station. The price of a ticket depend on how far up you go, but a full ride to the top and back down is 76 CHF for an adult. Tickets are at half-price with a Swiss pass or Swiss Card. Children under 9 years are free and 9 to 16 are half price. The Gornergrat Railway has an electronic ticket system. You can purchase a ticket at any railway station in the Switzerland Rail System, but it must be exchanged at the ticket window at the Gornergrat station. Multiple ride passes are available for skiers in Zermatt.
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More on Switzerland By Rail:
Blanc - St Bernard
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
Lauvaux Wine Train
Lake Thun & Brienz
Scenic Switzerland By Train
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