See the best of the Great Smoky Mountains on this scenic 4.5-hour train ride

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  • Published on March 31, 2023
  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • In Places

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad offers stunning views, a "shine and dine" experience, and even a trip to see Santa.

The beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains is unmatched. Regardless of the season, the mountain range spanning from East Tennessee to North Carolina is a sight. Endless rivers, tunnels and valleys are scattered throughout the scenic route.

If you want to see what the beautiful region offers, The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is the way to go.

The railroad offers year-round routes that allow riders a unique and serene way to see the area.

The excursions depart from a historic train depot in downtown Bryson City, near Cherokee, NC.

Travel & Leisure shared that guests get to ride on “either a steam-powered or diesel locomotive as they explore the remote corners of North Carolina.”

The steam locomotive, The Steam of the Smokies, dates back to 1942. It was built using one of the world’s largest engine classes and is one of two remaining in the United States. It’s riding a piece of history.

After boarding in Bryson City, you will travel along the ravines of the Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers. Travelers will have the opportunity for unbelievable photos as they take advantage of seeing nature at its best.

The outlet mentioned travelers will enjoy unobstructed views of the region’s many mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests. They will also experience historic landmarks and aspects of the trek that are “inaccessible by foot or car, like the historic Fontana Trestle.”

The multi-hour, round-trip trip allows travelers to ride vintage open-air or modernized climate-controlled train cars. The rail company also offers the option to upgrade to first class with personal concierge staff and a vintage interior setup.

Memorable themed journeys are also available to experience throughout the year, such as the Easter-themed Bunny Hopper express, which ends in a grand Easter egg hunt, and the Polar Express, which recreates a journey to the North Pole. Adult themes include the Carolina Moonshine Experience with an adult-only First Class Moonshine Car. The train will proudly serve some of the region’s best handcrafted, triple-distilled craft moonshine.

All excursions can be bookedonline or by phone. Guests are provided a calendar of events and open dates when viewing availability online, along with pricing for each seating class.

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