7 Most Scenic Train Rides in North Carolina

7 Most Scenic Train Rides in North Carolina

What in case you may journey by means of picturesque landscapes and journey again in time, concurrently? Would it really feel like a dream? If you ask us, there’s nothing fairly like a leisurely practice trip by means of rolling hills and small cities, and North Carolina is a good place to expertise driving the rails.

Train journeys within the Tar Heel state begin with the views and proceed to impress. There’s in depth historical past, impeccable scenic magnificence, and an thrilling sense of exploration that comes with any railroad you discover.

You’ve bought journey in retailer, between a historic railroad, an immersive museum, and quite a few particular occasions for all the household. Take a peek on the map under to see which rail line you’re closest to, after which learn on to study extra about essentially the most scenic practice rides in North Carolina.

Map of scenic train rides in North Carolina


Best Train Rides in North Carolina

1. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Train in the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
digidreamgrafix / Adobe Stock

Located within the coronary heart of Bryson City, you’ll be “all aboard!” on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Kick again to take pleasure in a two-hour practice trip alongside the Nantahala River and examine stunning Fontana Lake by means of your window.

These practice rides carry you round Nantahala National Forest and over the gorge with superb scenic views. You can witness steam-powered and diesel-engine locomotives at work. You’ll have a particular menu in firstclass, a premium open-air gondola, or the Nantahala Gorge Excursion.

An assortment of actions can be found to you, too, together with however not restricted to Bryson City’s Nantahala River Guided Whitewater Rafting Trip, the Zip Line Adventure Park Pass with Gear, and the Mountaintop Zip Line Experience.

Around the holidays, e-book an actual Polar Express trip for the entire household. Featuring scorching cocoa and a go to from Santa, nice recollections await on the historic Great Smoky Mountain Railroad at Bryson City depot. Book your tickets online! Earliest rides usually start round 10:30 a.m. and run till 8:20 p.m.

Also, a enjoyable native tip: Real adventurers ought to try the crown class within the Tuckasegee River Excursion, the Carolina Moonshine Experience, and different distinctive journeys provided by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Accessibility: The open-air gondola has a hydraulic elevate for wheelchair boarding and deboarding help and a handicap-accessible restroom. Golf cart boarding help can also be obtainable for company with restricted capabilities.

Best time to go to: May-December

Tickets and Prices: $58-$150 relying in your bundle and journey.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Fayetteville, North Carolina

2. Craggy Mountain Line

Craggy Mountain Line Trolley Ride
Craggy Mountain Line / Craggy Mountain Line

As a non-profit group, the Craggy Mountain Line offers again each time somebody pays for a trip. Hop aboard and benefit from the seven-mile open-air journey, basking in each hanging scenes and understanding that your cash has gone straight towards restoring the historic railroad.

Part of what was as soon as the Southern Railroad, the Craggy Mountain Line, is barely transferring ahead. In the long run, the workforce hopes to curate a museum, frequently restore outdated practice vehicles, use boxcars as storage for the neighborhood, rehabilitate the rail strains, and extra.

If you come throughout the suitable season, your whole household can take pleasure in an Easter egg hunt that’s since turn into a practice. We know you don’t wish to miss roaming a quaint village for goodies—and the children don’t, both.

Trains run between 1–6 p.m., with normal rides falling each Thursday and Saturday at 4 p.m. Buy tickets here!

Best time to go to: September-December

Tickets and Prices: $15 an individual, youngsters below three trip free. Specialty journeys are $18 per particular person.

See Related: Storybook Castles in North Carolina Hiding in Plain Sight

3. North Carolina Transportation Museum

Aerial view of North Carolina Transportation Museum
North Carolina Transportation Museum / Facebook

At the North Carolina Transportation Museum, take pleasure in entry to common practice rides that carry you across the 60-acre property and specialty occasions like Wine & Dine on the Rails, winter vacation practice rides, and others.

While visiting, you’ll have entry to way more than simply trains. A historic website that after held one of the in depth steam locomotive restore amenities within the Southeast, this museum discusses the historical past of every kind of transportation, beginning with railroading.

Upon arrival, you’ll be welcomed into the Barber Junction Depot, a once-used practice station now serving because the customer heart. Another on-site historic construction is the Bob Julian Roundhouse, which homes varied locomotives, passenger trains, and a size-accurate duplicate Wright Flyer.

Check out their events calendar and e-book tickets to your favourite! Study reviews that can assist you select. Rides usually run from 10 a.m. to 1–3 p.m. all week.

Accessibility: Trains supply wheelchair lifts and tie-downs; displays are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Wheelchair rental is obtainable.

Best time to go to: Year-round!

Tickets and Prices: Museum admission is $4-$6 (youngsters below two free), whereas admission + practice trip is $8-$12. Seated vs. standing diesel locomotive cab rides are $25 and $20, and caboose rides are $10, all plus admission.

4. Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad Entrance
Tweetsie Railroad / Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad practice station boasts the whole lot from a Wild West theme park to one of many nation’s few final surviving steam locomotive engines… and that’s only the start. Unlimited journeys behind a locomotive include admission to the theme park and entry to the Deer Park Zoo, rides, and gold panning.

Want to see the famed steam locomotive? Titled the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad Locomotive No. 12, this gem is a must-see for historical past lovers and practice followers alike.

If you’re searching for an extended, extra unique practice trip, you’ll be able to go for a seasonal journey: Ghost Train Family-Friendly Halloween Celebration or Tweetsie Christmas. Both have loads of thrilling actions for the entire household!

Get began with buying your admission ticket. Regular trains run each 45 minutes whereas the park is open, whereas specialty occasions usually begin round 7:15 p.m. through the holidays.

Accessibility: Closer parking for company with disabilities, widespread wheelchair accessibility, and leases obtainable. Service animals are additionally welcome.

The greatest time to go to: May-August, though the park is open for restricted spans (like Labor Day) from October-December.

Tickets and Prices: Daytime admission and specialty practice rides price $40-$60 for youngsters over two and adults.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina

5. New Hope Valley Railway

Train in New Hope Valley Railway
New Hope Valley Railway / New Hope Valley Railway

New Hope Valley Railway is a pleasant cease in New Hill. Here, you’ll go to the North Carolina Railway Museum (NCRM)! Featuring Triangle’s Train, 4 miles of piney forest, open-air rides, and snacks, your voyage will final about an hour and a half, however make recollections to final a lifetime.

As a non-profit group, the New Hope Valley Railway dedicates 100% of ticket gross sales to the NCRM. This signifies that your fee advantages the museum everytime you participate in a trip.

Some of those rides are seasonal, like Track or Treat Halloween Express and Boo n’ Choo Train Ride in October, Brew n’ Choo Train Ride for veterans in early November, and Santa’s Reindeer Roundup in December. Be certain to book your tickets online forward of time. In October, the practice runs from 2:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in November, and 9:30 a.m. to three:45 p.m. in December.

As a enjoyable bonus tip, right here’s one thing to take a look at: An hour from New Hope Valley Railway, Selma holds its annual “Railroad Days Festival” each October!

Accessibility: Parking lot, restrooms within the railyard, and a chairlift obtainable.

Best time to go to: October-December

Tickets and Prices: $11-175 {dollars} relying in your bundle; youngsters below two trip free.

6. NC Department of Transportation – Rail Division

Train in NC Department of Transportation – Rail Division
NC Department of Transportation – Rail Division / NC Department of Transportation – Rail Division

While this may not be your common small-town historic practice, the NC Department of Transportation rail division delivers with NC By Train. The official model of the state authorities doesn’t make these journeys any much less scenic.

Remember the state’s railroad historical past? Thanks to it, the rail system has turn into integral to interstate transportation.

With sixteen stations, cheap coach class (one-way/spherical journey) tickets, and constant trains, the NC Department of Transportation takes you throughout. Nine of these stations contact on the 172-mile stretch between Charlotte and Raleigh, each notoriously busy and delightful.

You can book online here. The schedule varies by vacation spot, however the Piedmont (Charlotte to Raleigh) and Carolinian (Charlotte to Raleigh to New York City) strains run between 6:30 a.m.-8:40 p.m.

Accessibility: Both the Piedmont and the Carolinian trains are accessible below the Americans with Disabilities Act (in accordance with

Best time to go to: Year-round!

Tickets and Prices: Tickets are booked by means of Amtrak, so pricing varies from coach class (round $27 to $150, relying on time and date) to personal rooms, which can go for as much as $600.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina

7. WNC Wagon Train Inc.

Western North Carolina Wagon Train experience
Western North Carolina Wagon Train / Western North Carolina Wagon Train

Not a practice within the locomotive sense however relatively a wagon, this journey is a enjoyable, surprising tackle the “western North Carolina practice rides.” WNC Wagon Train Inc. curates a pleasant expertise in contrast to every other rides within the state: Instead of a locomotive, you’re pulled by a horse!

This wagon practice is a near-historically correct journey that carries you thru unused roads and quiet countryside in and across the Smoky Mountains. Rides are hosted within the spring, fall, and summer time, with entry to campsites, streams, and nice mountain routes.

Remember to put aside time for this journey—you’ll be able to anticipate being behind a wagon for a couple of days. Camping is a dedication, however nonetheless, it’s an expertise to recollect!

Visit their website for up to date data on tickets and instances.

Best time to go to: May-September

Tickets and Prices: $50 flat charge for a household, $25 for particular person.

See Related: Best Places to Stay in Outer Banks to See Wild Horses

Tips for a Fantastic Train Journey in North Carolina

Train passing at Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina
Guy Bryant / Adobe Stock

You know all in regards to the state’s many historic trains and different stops alongside your journey, just like the North Carolina Railway Museum. What else should you understand to make sure you have got a protected, enjoyable trip?

  • Visit within the fall, when the railways are most beautiful.
  • Closed-toed shoes are beneficial for many trains.
  • Bring sunblock!
  • Rain checks is probably not given, relying on the corporate.

If you need extra actions, locals counsel visiting is the Wilmington Railroad Museum in Wilmington. Enjoy a self-guided tour, an entire museum together with a 100-year-old steam engine, and a present store, all for a grand whole of $6-$10 per ticket (relying on the ages in your group).

No matter what, although, you’ll have a good time. This state has stunning surroundings, heat hospitality, and a wealthy historical past. Enjoy your go to!

History of the North Carolina Rail System

Architecture of Apex, North Carolina Railroad Station
Becky Wright / Adobe Stock

The North Carolina Railroad (NCRR) has an extremely complicated historical past. This previous has helped contribute to important development and eternally modified how folks transfer across the state.

The railroad can be designed to attach the coast within the East to the plateau additional West. Further improvement would proceed till 1856, when the primary practice ran 223 miles from Charlotte to Goldsboro.

This was solely the start of its affect on North Carolina’s financial system. From 1856, the NCRR started carting passengers and freight throughout the state. Consequently, it’s credited with the expansion of a number of cities that developed at stops alongside the road!

Year Event
1848 NC legislature authorizes building of the railroad.
1854 NC legislature approves funding that grants 75% possession of the railroad to the state.
1856 First practice runs the complete size of 223 miles. Towns additionally start sprouting alongside the railway.
1865 Civil War ends, leading to heavy damages to the NCRR. Remained below authorities administration with non permanent repairs.
1871 Lease years start, persevering with partially till 1998. This is when the state of NC bought the remaining 25% non-public shares of NCRR inventory.
1934 Diesel-electric propulsion involves passenger trains.
1998 State of NC buys remaining NCRR non-public inventory.
2001 – On Assorted rail and bridge upgrades to additional profit the prevailing railroad, new monitor sections, and extra changes.

Data from

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