Last Updated on March 21, 2023
View the beauty of Western North Carolina from a different seat—a train seat!
If driving through WNC has lost its fun, consider taking a passenger rail instead. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers family-friendly diesel or steam train excursions from their historic depot. No matter the season, you’re sure to find great options for traveling by train in style through our mountains. It’s an experience everyone in the family is sure to love.
Don’t miss your chance to have a front-row seat! We’re all aboard for these four scenic, seasonal train excursions from Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
About Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is your ticket to family fun in WNC every week of the year!
GSMR’s scenic rail excursions start and end at the historic depot in Bryson City, just minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Aboard the train, you’ll travel through the beautiful countryside of WNC, experiencing breathtaking views and making memories along the way. They offer a variety of train options and special event trains, along with first class cars and an open air gondola. It’s no wonder they are regularly named one of the top fun things to do in North Carolina for families!
Winter: Tuckasegee River Excursion
Enjoy a relaxing ride through quiet countryside on your way to small town life in WNC. The Tuckasegee River Excursion is a four-hour experience through the fresh air of the Smokies. The route travels from Bryson City to the historic town of Dillsboro and back again over a 32-mile round trip. Ride through the famous Cowee Tunnel. Pass by the movie set of “The Fugitive,” starring Harrison Ford. The trip also includes an hour-and-a-half layover in Dillsboro, where you’ll have plenty of time to visit the town’s more than 50 shops, restaurants, and more before returning to Bryson City.
Ride this excursion via steam or diesel locomotive power.
Looking for a unique, all-adult “rail line and wine” experience? Uncorked fuses the adventure of railroading with the love of good wine and good company. Passengers enjoy a full-service ride in first class cars with a private attendant and plush, well-appointed dining seating. A narrator accompanies the ride to present each carefully selected wine pour, along with knowledge and history of the wines selected. Passengers on this specialty car will also enjoy an exclusive sampling of cheeses and a freshly prepared three-course surf-and-turf meal.
Uncorked is offered on the Tuckasegee River Excursion on select dates throughout the year, including February 15. The 2.5-hour Sweetheart Valentine Evening Train (February 14) follows the Tuckasegee River Excursion Route and features the same programming as the daytime Uncorked. Reservations strongly recommended.
Summer: Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience
Hop aboard The Carolina Shine, GSMR’s all-adult first class moonshine car! The car interior features copper-lined walls filled with the history of moonshining in North Carolina. Once your appetite for knowledge is satisfied, wet your whistle for the rest of this “shine and dine” experience. Enjoy sample tastings of handcrafted, triple-distilled, craft moonshine, including real-fruit flavors like apple pie, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, peach, and strawberry. Passengers also enjoy a meal and dessert, and will receive their very own Carolina Shine mason drinking jar and a souvenir GSMR tote bag.
Ride this excursion via steam or diesel locomotive power. The Moonshine Experience is offered on the Nantahala Gorge Excursion on select dates from May–October.
Fall: Nantahala Gorge Excursion
The autumn leaves of the Great Smoky Mountains have never looked as vibrant as from your seat on the Nantahala Gorge Excursion. Spend four and a half hours winding alongside the beautiful Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers. From Bryson City, this route carries you 44 miles to the Nantahala Gorge and back again. Enjoy bluegrass music and Appalachian stories along the way, and cross Fontana Lake via the historic Trellis Bridge. Arrive at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for a one-hour layover, where you can relax by the river or enjoy sightseeing.
Ride this excursion via steam or diesel locomotive power. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion operates from March–October.
Find a new adventure on GSMR!
The fun doesn’t stop with the options listed above! GSMR also offers a variety of additional seasonal and holiday excursions, including BBQ ‘n Brews, Easter Beagle, Freedom Train (July 4th), PEANUTS Great Pumpkin Patch Express, and the Polar Express. Or charter your own private train and create an adventure you’ll never forget!
Learn more about Great Smoky Mountain Railroad at gsmr.com.