The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers scenic train excursions through the North Carolina mountains along Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, across valleys and through tunnels. All of the train rides depart from the depot in downtown Bryson City (near Cherokee). Their variety of trips and special event trains (like the Polar Express - read more) are perfect for making memories! Ride in vintage open air cars, climate-controlled cars or first-class with dining options.
Nantahala Gorge Excursion
Ride along the rushing Nantahala River. This 4.5-hour excursion carries you 44 miles to the Nantahala Gorge and back. The historic Trellis Bridge takes you across Fontana Lake. Arrive at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for a one-hour layover on the river. Tickets Adults 13+ are $51-$96 depending on seat class, children 2-12 start at $29. Also check out rafting combo packages - ride the train up the river, then raft down!
Tuckasegee River Excursion
Ride through quiet countryside in Jackson County. This four hour excursion travels 32 miles round-trip to Dillsboro and back to Bryson City. Pass by the infamous movie set of The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford, and stop in Dillsboro for a 1.5-hour layover to explore the charming town with an impressive collection of galleries. Tickets adults 13+ are $51-$97 depending on seat class, children 2-12 start at $29.
2018 Schedule - Excursion options vary by day
- March: Fri & Sat
- April 1-May 19: Tues-Sat
- May 22-Oct 28: Every Day
- Oct 31-Nov 10: Tues-Sat
- Nov 14-Dec 31: Every Day except Thanksgiving & Christmas
After a two-year restoration of 1923 Engine #1702, you can book a steam excursion many times throughout the year, especially summer and fall. Before and after the ride, get a close-up look at this remarkable locomotive and watch a demonstration of the turntable near the depot. Click here to visit their website for steam dates and ticket pricing.
Steam Dates 2018 (subject to change): May 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 31 | June 1, 2 | July 6, 7, 8, 11-15, 18-21, 25-29 | Aug 31 | Sept 1-3 | Oct 2-28 (except Mondays) | Nov 17-18, 23-24 | Dec 31
Train Seating Options
- Most excursions have a full-service concession car with snacks, lunch items and beverages (including alcoholic drinks) for purchase. Or you can pick up snacks or lunch at their cafe in the Depot before your ride. First-class includes a meal.
- Standard Seating (Coach Class) is in restored vintage coaches that feature windows that open for fresh-air viewing, ceiling fans and heat for cooler days.
- Open Air Gondolas are created from retired baggage and flatbed cars, with long padded outward-facing seats for the panoramic views.
- In Crown Class, relax in restored coaches dating from 1925, with larger windows for better viewing and climate control. Get a souvenir tumbler to fill with a fountain soda.
- The First-Class riding experience is one-of-a-kind! Travel in comfort and style in 1940s-era bar, lounge and dinner cars. Have lunch served by the car’s private attendant, and receive a souvenir tumbler with fountain soda and an embroidered tote bag gift. First-class cars are climate-controlled and full bar service is available.
Great Smoky Train Excursions & Events 2018
- Uncorked - All adult first-class ride with private attendant and dining seating. Enjoy wines paired with a 3-course surf-and-turf menu, plus handmade chocolates for dessert. $119/person. Tuckasegee River: Feb 10, Nov 3, Dec 31 (steam). Nantahala: April 21, June 9, Sept 22
- May-October: Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience - Hop on board the all-adult first-class Moonshine Car serving the handcrafted, triple-distilled Midnight Moon. Operating on the Nantahala Gorge excursion, a full-service ride with a private attendant serving BBQ, cornbread and Moonshiners Mud Chocolate Pie. Go to their Website for more.
- May-October: Rafting Packages include a one way trip to Nantahala Outoor Center with a guided whitewater rafting trip back.
- October-December: Beer Tastin’ at the Station: New in 2018 is a special treat for adults during the layover in Dillsboro on the Tuckasegee Train. Try five beers at Innovation Brewing paired with small bites. $23/person in addition to train ticket.
- March 17, May 27, June 17, July 1, Sept 2: Fontana Trestle Train BBQ & Brews - Back for limited dates, featuring slow-cooked BBQ prepared fresh and beer tastings showcasing local breweries. $70-$82/person. Go to their website.
- March 30 & 31: Peanuts Easter Beagle Express - Join Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown and the Easter Bunnies for plenty of fun on a 4-hour trip, with a 1.5-hour layover in Dillsboro for activities. From $29/child, $51/adult.
- May 26-August 21 & October 2-25: Great American Rails-N-Tales Narration Car - New in 2018! This narrative entertaining learning experience on a special, newly renovated coach with a car-wide sound system. Tickets are $61-$72/adult. Narration Car begins May 26 and will be offered on both Nantahala Gorge and Tuckasegee River Excursions, 3 or 4 days a week.
- July 4: Freedom Train - Celebrate Independence Day with this July 4th train ride. This special trip will depart from the Bryson City Depot at 7 PM, following the Nantahala Gorge Excursion route to the Fontana Trestle. Once at the trestle, pause for some spectacular viewing and then head back to Bryson City to rejoin the big Freedom Fest for an awesome fireworks show in the downtown area! Crown and coach seating enjoys a BBQ meal and apple pie.
- October 5-28: Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express - Join Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown in search of the Great Pumpkin on a 4-hour trip, with a 1.5-hour layover in Dillsboro for activities. Friday-Sunday.
- November 9-December 31: Polar Express Train - Journey through the quiet wilderness to the North Pole. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening to the magical story. It's very popular, so get advance tickets. See pics & read much more!
- Note: The Wizard of Oz Train will not return in 2018.
- For more special trips, visit their website for current pricing, packages and specials.
Be sure to see their Smoky Mountain Trains Museum (included with your ticket) with its collection of 7,000 Lionel engines, cars and accessories, and impressive operating layout.
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Directions: Located in downtown Bryson City (45 Mitchell Street), about 65 miles west of Asheville. From Asheville, drive I-40 West to exit 27. Take US 74 for 40 miles to Exit 67 for Bryson City. At the end of the exit ramp, bear right. At the first light, turn right onto Main Street, then left onto Everett Street. At the first traffic light on Everett, turn left onto Mitchell Street for the railroad parking. Street address for GPS: use 45 Mitchell St, Bryson City, NC for parking area.