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Scenic Train Rides on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

USA Today: “Top 10 American Train Rides”

Oprah Magazine: “12 Most Scenic Train Rides in the US”

Based in Bryson City, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates rail excursions with on board dining through our remote corner of North Carolina, traveling through tunnels, across rivers and lakes, through mountain valleys and into a deep river gorge. Destinations include the small town of Dillsboro, NC, and the Nantahala Gorge. Some rides are with the diesel engine and some are with the newly restored steam engine #1702. When the steam is running you will also have the chance to watch the people-powered engine turntable in action.

Each season brings something new to your enjoyment of the train ride. Winter train views expose more of the mountains. In the spring, trees are budding and the train’s special events begin. In summer, add a package  of whitewater rafting or ziplining to your ticket. In the fall, enjoy color from one of the coach cars or the open-air car during daily “Leaf Looker” excursions to the Nantahala Gorge, and the Sunset Tuckasegee River Train on select weekends. Schedule and Tickets.

Check out the “Hot Deals” page for discounts!

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Polar Express

The Polar Express Christmas excursion is one of the most popular holiday events in the Smokies. This is the trip to make memories and start a family tradition. Enjoy the depot decorations. On the train sing some Christmas carols, and enjoy warm cocoa and a treat, while listening to this magical children’s story. Santa is waiting at the North Pole, where he’ll board the train, greeting each child, giving them their own silver sleigh bell. (1-1/4 hour round trip). Don’t forget to wear your pajamas! Early November through December. Schedule and Tickets

Bunny-Hopper Express

In the Spring, enjoy the Bunny Hopper Express (Nantahala River Excursion). Passengers will be on the lookout for those train hopping bunnies who have snuck on board to take a free ride! Festivities include an Easter egg hunt with prizes, a giveaway bag with activities to enjoy during the train ride, and a yummy Easter treat for our junior railroaders to enjoy at the picturesque event location. There will also be plenty of opportunities for pictures with our bunny hoppers, so do not forget your camera! Boxed lunches available. More info or call 800-872-4681.

Excursions from Bryson City

Nantahala Gorge This 4-1/2 hour excursion makes a 44 mile round trip to the Nantahala Gorge, crossing the historic Fontana Lake trestle. There’s a 1-hour layover to relax by the river and enjoy dining and shopping. Options for packages including a zip line excursion, or rafting trip or a back roads jeep tourSchedule and Tickets

Tuckasegee River This 4-hour excursion makes a 32 mile round trip to the quaint village of Dillsboro, passing by the train wreck set from The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and through a tunnel. There is a 1-1/2 hour layover in Dillsboro  to enjoy restaurants, a brewery, unique crafts and gift shops in this easily walk-able town. This train makes a limited run, so please check the schedule for your preferred dates. Schedule and Tickets

In the Fall, enjoy color from one of the coach cars or the open-air car during daily “Leaf Looker” excursions to the Nantahala Gorge, and the Sunset Tuckasegee River Train on select weekends. 

Check out the “Hot Deals” page for discounts!

Dining With a Unique Perspective

See the Smokies by train and enjoy a boxed lunch along the way. Or experience one of our three unique food and drink pairing options available during the year.

Enjoy the Smoky Mountain Beer Run, a specialty train featuring samples of local craft beer on-board and a final sample at Innovation Station in Dillsboro. Every ‘Beer Run’ has a fun theme. Schedule and Tickets

Craving surf & turf paired with wine? Experience “Uncorked” with an onboard narrator presenting each wine pour and sharing knowledge of the four wines to passengers in an all-adult first-class car.  Schedule and Tickets

Moonshine more your idea of fun? Settle into the Shine & Dine’ car on Nantahala runs for triple-distilled samples along with your meal.

Model Train Museum

Rail excursion tickets include same-day admission to Smoky Mountains Museum, with its collection of 7,000 Lionel engines, cars and accessories, impressive operating layout and children’s activity center.

Bryson City - Swain County
Chamber of Commerce

P.O. Box 509
Bryson City, NC 28713

Karen Proctor
Executive Director


Visitor Guide pages

Order a free Visitor Guide featuring Bryson City and the North Carolina Smokies