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Philmont Training Center tips

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Hi to the forum.


I've been considering attending the Philmont Training Center for a weeklong conference.


I've never been to Philmont before, and would be coming from New England. I'm curious about travel arraignments. I think I have a plan, but am wondering if anyone would share their experiences...


Here's my first rough draft:

Airfare from Boston to Chicago

Amtrack from Chicago to Ranton NM

The Philmont bus from Ranton to Philmont.


Any ideas? Remember, I won't be going with a unit. Just by myself.



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My wife and I went last summer, we had a blast.


We live between Knoxville and Chattanooga TN. We drove to Nashville and few into Colorado Springs, with a 1 hour lay over in Dallas, and then rented a car.


Next time I will not drive to Nashville to save a few buck on air fair. With the cost of a hotel, diesel, and parking, next time we will leave out of Knoxville and the in laws can take us and pick us up from the airport, they live about 30 minutes away.


We really enjoyed having a rental car. Wednesday was our free day, we went to Capulin Volcano National Monument, the adobe village in Taos, and Bandelier National Monument. We also drove around a couple of evenings finding good places to take pictures of PTC, base camp, the tooth of time, incoming storms, and scenery.


One thing I wish I had known before I got there was how much stuff I was going to bring home. Plan one at least piece of luggage to carry notes, literature, souvenirs, t shirts, patches, cups, etc,etc. Luckily in my course they handed out the ScoutParents tote bags, and we used it.


What course are you taking?

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I went in '05. I flew out of Portland, ME to a connector in Boston to Atlanta and finally Colorado Springs. I flew out a couple days before I needed to be at Philmont so I could play tourist. I got a rental vehicle in CO Springs and toured various sites in/around CO Springs. Drove down. Did the conference. And did a few days of tourist stuff after the conference including the seeing the Koshare Indian Museum and dancers (a BS Troop/Venture Crew--http://www.kosharehistory.org/) and the Royal River Gorge before flying back (also out of CO Springs).


If you go the route you plan, maybe you can team-up with other leaders during the downtime on Wed.

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We went to PTC last year with the family. We flew into Albuquerque, rented a car, went to Santa Fe, Taos and a national monument or two, and then on to Philmont.


Unless you really want to be on a train overnight and since you're already paying airfare to Chicago, why not fly into either Colorado Springs or Albuquerque and then either rent a car or take a train/bus from there? You'll get a chance to sightsee a bit if you have the car (or if you spend a bit of time in ABQ or Santa Fe).


The car will set you back a bit, of course, but unless you were planning to hang out on Wednesday, you could use it for a day trip on the down day.


Or, you could always use the car to grab some geocaches like the kids and I did! :-)


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We went to the PTC 2 years ago. We had planned to take Amtrak from Dearborn, MI to Raton, NM. Well that was the year the Mississippi flooded out the midwest and washed away the Amtrak lines. We ended up driving out in just over 36 hours and spent an extra 2 days coming home via Summit County Colorado.


We had a great but stressful trip with all the driving.


We only drove while at the PTC on our Wednesday off. We went to Taos and went horseback riding (hubby and I were too big and the kids were too small to ride at Philmont). Went sightseeing and had a great day.


People that came Amatrak arrived 23 hours later than scheduled and were stressed worse than us. Some also missed their event starts.


I've had several friends go Amtrak and have a great time. We are planning to go back this summer and may take the train. My firends have always built an extra travel day into their outbound internaries. They spend a day in Raton before catchting the bus to camp. This makes sure that they won't miss their event if Amtrak screws up.


Things I'm thinking about in my travel planning:

1 - time factor - flying is quicker.

2 - expense

3 - convenience

4 - ease of travel and baggage movement

5 - for me - my travel companions - kids, possibly hubby or another family adult.

6 - how much and where do we want to go on our day off

7 - Amtrak's track record, your airline's track record of on time arrivals and departures


I don't know if you're familiar with O'Hare and the Amtrak stations in Chicago or not. They are over an hour apart by commuter train and often times more than that by taxi or shuttle. I have done a lot of travelling through both and it wouldn't be my ideal transition location.


Do you have time to do Amtrak from Boston to Raton? It's longer but it could be easier.


Just some thoughts. Have a great trip. You'll love the PTC.


BTW which class are you going to if I may ask?



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Direct flight options to Denver or Albuquerque are possible.


Amtrak? Fly to Chicago, take 3/4 (the Southwest Chief) to Raton. Book yourselves, if you can afford it, a Deluxe Bedroom (wide lower, not horribly narrow upper, 6 foot sofa and an easy chair, essential facilities (including a shower) in the room. With Amtrak sleeper, meals are included. I've done 3/4 KC-LA, but my most frequent use is 5/6 (the California Zephyr) Omaha-Reno.


The other Amtrak option is NEC Boston-NY Penn Station, then 48/49 (the Lake Shore Limited) to Chicago, then 3/4 to Raton. Allow yourselves slack; there are motels in both Raton and Cimarron.


I've driven KC to Philmont twice. Both times, the only use I had for the wheels was storage. There is plenty to do at Philmont. I tend to spend my time in the craft shop, tooling belts. I've done two for my son, and two for me. Cimarron isn't bad, and there's always just kicking back in a camp chair and letting the world go by.


Enjoy PTC.

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I went to PTC in 08.


I decided to fly to Albuquerque. I found someone else going to PTC, and he rented a car there and we carpooled (I kicked in money to help pay for the rental & gas).


Wednesday, we took advantage of the bus tour they offer in the afternoon. (ride down to Kit Carson Museum, a few other points, and then to Raton). I checked out the Seton Museum that morning and did a tour of the Villa.



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Excellent tips! Thanks everyone!


This PTC trip still is in the pre-planning stages, I am just doing some due-diligence to determine the true feasibility.


The only course that I'm interested in is the New "Unit Commissioner - Helping Units Succeed" conference. It looks really great, and to top it off they will be holding a College of Commissioner Science on the last day.


Like many, I've rented many cars for family trips over the years, as the "trip" was the adventure - not the destination.


That's sorta why I'm considering amtrack, since to me Philmont would be the "adventure."


Thank you thank you for the comment that the amtrack station is an hour away from the chicago airport. That information is priceless. However - an overnight train trip is in my "bucket list." ;)


Also, I was really hoping to get on the trail on my day off. I understand that they only allow PTC participants on limited trails, that's ok with me - my days of back country 25 milers are over. :) So, I'm inclined to forgo the rental car.


Well, thanks again to everyone. I am really starting to think this could be worth every penny.



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To go on any trail at Philmont you will need to do the full Trek version of their physical. There are height/weight guidelines which are ironclad. Philmont is 6600 feet at base camp. Oxygen is much less than at sea level; we lowlanders just are not used to the delta.


As you noted, there are specific trails you can go on at PTC.


Two things: Even in the height of summer, the overnights can dip down to 40F. Your down bag is not inappropriate to take! Also, like most BSA mattresses, the ones at PTC are sanitary supportable. Bring plenty of mattress pad stuff if you don't like your body sweating on plastic.

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This is what I did last Summer. Fly to Denver. Rent car. Drive down to Philmont (took around 4 hours, I think). It was an absolutely beautiful drive. Nice highway through absolutely unforgettable mountains and plains.


Having the rental car during the week was important. Need to drive around on Wednesday, fast trips to the Philmont store, etc.


I got amazingly cheap flights into Denver. The car rental was more expensive than the flights.


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John in KC wrote: To go on any trail at Philmont you will need to do the full Trek version of their physical.


John, this must have been implemented in the past five years. When I went (2005), you did not need the full physical to hike the PTC-only trails (the only ones PTC folks are allowed on). You also had to hike in a group of four. I hiked with a family of three. This worked out for them and me...even if I had to slow down my pace for them. :)

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John in KC wrote: "To go on any trail at Philmont you will need to do the full Trek version of their physical."


Last year when we went to PTC, there was no mention of this in the packet and no mention of it at orientation, either. Plus the kids hiked all over as part of the family program (Cathedral Rock, the dinosaur hike, etc...) with no full form, either.



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When I went to PTC this summer, flew into Denver, rented a Prius (one tank of gas there and back, roughly), drove to PTC through the most amazing lightning storm, and had a wonderfully quiet week by myself. I considered ditching class and hanging out in leathercrafts quite often.


As for trails, the Staff insisted that if you didn't meet the height and weight limits on the new Physical, you weren't supposed to go on any trail except the easiest, flattest one, the name of which I don't remember.


Coming from 0' above sea level, I did experience a near constant headache the entire week.

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I've been to Philmont three times. Twice for PTC and once on a back country trip. Here's what I know.


First trip, went to PTC with the Mrs. (You need to understand she's an RDH, dirt (measured in mm & mg is bad), she won't camp ever.) LOVED it, wanted to go back, they treated her PERFECTLY. She watched children having a BLAST all day long. The course I took (COPE Director) was outstanding.


Second trip, went as the crew advisor for our troop's older boy high adventure with our son. We walked and walk for 10 days. Mrs, recognized the spots from our pictures because she had been there. Completely demoralized our son.


Third trip, back to PTC. Couldn't keep Mrs. away. First time she did everything, this time she read a book under a tree, took short walks, loved it all over again. She'll go again, but not for a while.


How'd we get there?


First time, flew to ALBQ (forget the other letters), took the train, spent the night in Raton, got the school bus to PTC. We spent all our time at PTC. We were both a little stir crazy by the end of the week. Going home we almost missed our flight. Highly stressed event. Amtrack isn't late if it arrives on the same DAY, good luck catching planes with that schedule.


Second trip, we loaded the boys up on our local Amtrack (Coast Starlight), spent the day in LA, got on the east bound Southwest Chief, next day we were in Raton. Hiked to our hotel, spent the night. Next morning got the Philmont school bus. Reversed the process going home. Worked like a charm.


Third trip, fly to Denver. Rented a car. Drove down. This worked VERY well for us. I would suggest you try this approach unless all involved understand that you aren't going to leave Philmont for anything until the end of the week.


Have fun, take the whole family. It is one of the nicest scouting things your family will ever do.

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