Located in Bryson City, North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad ride offers guests scenic rail excursions that are perfect for couples and families. The railroad features the option of two different tour routes as well as special event rides, all of which are ideal for rail enthusiasts, tourists, and nature lovers. Destinations include the quaint town of Dillsboro, NC, and the Nantahala Gorge, both of which provide scenery that includes mountains, valleys and forests, rivers and lakes, and train tunnels that feel like a step back in time.
The Tuckasegee River Excursion provides seating in Coach or Crown Class, or in the Open-Air gondola. First-class availability is added in the months of November and December. The tour encompasses approximately 4 hours, including a 1 hour and 20-minute stopover in the historic town of Dillsboro. Riders can debark the train to explore the town’s many shops and restaurants.
The Nantahala Gorge Excursion is slightly longer at 4.5 hours and includes a one-hour stop at the gorge for sightseeing. Classes of seating include Open-Air Gondola, Coach, Crown Class, Adult First Class, and Premium Open-Air Gondola. This tour travels along the Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers and includes views of Fontana Lake and the historic trellis bridge. Since this tour does not include a stop in a town and there are no services available during the stopover in the gorge, onboard dining is available in First Class Seating, or riders have the option to pre-purchase a box lunch.
Seasonal packages that include ziplining or river rafting are available as an add-on for both tours. Plus, for groups celebrating a special event, there is an option for a Private Caboose Party.
Special Event rides include The Polar Express, weather-permitting during the festive season; and The Bunny-Hopper Express over the Easter holiday, with themed activities including an egg hunt. For adults, Uncorked is an upscale experience featuring wine and cheese, plus a surf & turf dinner. Or, for a more casual evening, there is the BBQ & Brew.
No matter which tour you choose, you can be assured of gorgeous North Carolina scenery, especially if you sit on the left side of the train. For this reason, the conductor encourages riders to switch sides part way through the trip; however, since this is a suggestion and not an order, there is sometimes unwillingness from other riders to give up the better seats. Be prepared to walk since the parking lot is a fair distance from the train station, plus there is walking involved during the stopover of both excursions – though less at the gorge. For some people, the hour stop at the gorge might seem like a perfect amount of time for admiring the scenery and taking photos. For others, the time allotment might seem a little excessive since there isn’t much to do.
⦿ To watch our Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Ride, visit our YouTube video HERE, and be sure to use the highest quality playback settings.