These train excursions are the perfect summer and autumn activity if you’ve ever wanted to go back in time and experience travel the way it used to be: slow and relaxing. One of the offered routes takes passengers through 52% of one of America’s biggest and most beautiful national parks, the Great Smoky Mountains while another offers a big dose of railroad history alongside your scenic views. One is perfect for sampling North Carolina Moonshine and one offers a chance to check out some of summer’s wildflowers in full bloom. With all that being said, here are 5 of our favorite scenic train ride trails in North Carolina.
Take a ride along the beautiful river in this Nantahala Gorge Excursion. This experience is a roundtrip that lasts around 4 and a half hours, including an hour layover to relax on the riverside with a quick bite to eat. Guests can also purchase dining options aboard the train for a unique dining and train experience complete with beautiful views, plus, there’s an option for a premium open-air gondola ride on the train for a fresh and unobstructed ride. Tickets start at $99 for adults.
Where: 45 Mitchell Street Bryson City, NC 28713
Run by the same company that does the Nantahala Gorge Excursion is this all-adult first class trip where riders are offered some of the smoothest moonshine the Carolinas has to offer and did we mention the boxed lunch comes with the ticket? The moonshine offered on deck is made of some of the finest distilleries in the area, and some of it is even fruited. From peach to blackberry to strawberry, each jar of moonshine is infused with real fruit to ensure its quality and smoothness. Guests should arrive 1 hour prior to departure and tickets start at $109 for diesel and $119 for steam.
Where: 45 Mitchell St. Bryson City, NC 28713
Get a kick out of this wild wild west theme park and hop on the Tweetsie Railroad for an informative and entertaining ride for all the family. They run two trains, either the No. 12 Tweetsie and No. 190 Yukon Queen, which date back to the early 20th century. Not only are there train rides, but there are amusement park rides for the entire family to enjoy. From carnival rides to the ferris wheel to the chair lift, there’s a lot to do for the whole family.
Where: 300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane Blowing Rock, NC 28605
The New Hope Valley Railway offers excursion rides on vintage equipment at the North Carolina Railway Museum, an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing North Carolina’s railroad history for the whole family. You can enjoy a slow-burn train rides that leisurely take you through the North Carolina woods or get behind the wheel in the Operate-a-Loco event where guests can become the engineer of a loco motive as long as they’re 18 and have a valid driver’s license. Check out their website for a list of all the events and how to get your ticket.
Where: 3900 Bonsal Rd. New Hill, NC 275621
The Tuckasegee River excursion is four hour, 32-mile roundtrip through the gorgeous North Carolina countryside, departing from Bryson City. Famous for its film location from Fugitive, as well as its floral and fauna, this train ride has a lot to offer in the way of views, plus the train has a 1 and a half hour layover in he charming town of Dillsboro where you can eat or shop. Tickets start at $56 for adults.
Where: 18 Fry St, Bryson City, NC 28713
[photos courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains Railroad]