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 a. Schedule and Tickets.
In 2021, face masks are required. Free face masks will be available. Social distancing of 3 feet is encouraged. Learn more
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! November 11 – December 31. Schedule and Tickets
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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 at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), and options for packages including a zip line excursion, or rafting trip or a back roads jeep tour. Schedule 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 with an option for a beer tasting at a brewery. This train makes a limited run, so please check the schedule for your preferred dates.
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On some rail excursions you can watch – or join – this super-human event.
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.
What goes better with an evening ride to the trestle on Fontana Lake? BBQ & Brews, of course! Enjoy local brews, BBQ and a great sunset. Family-friendly and all-adult car options. 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.