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North Carolina is famous for its share of things, but one famous attribute of this state is the Smoky Mountains. Travelers to the region can take a trip to Bryson City to experience the mountains in a whole new way.

Travelers to North Carolina shouldn’t miss out on this incredible train ride opportunity. Regardless of if travelers are young, old, or have a family, they will find an exciting experience exploring the Great Smoky Mountains by train.

The Train & Route

Along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, across valleys, and through tunnels, The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad meanders, giving its visitors an exciting excursion opportunity. The train always departs from the depot in downtown Bryson City. With a variety of trip options, there is a bit for everyone, no matter the age or demographic. Events like the Polar Express during the late Fall and December will entice a child's imagination and help get them into the winter spirit. Or perhaps it's girls' night to taste some wine in some first-class dining options offered.

  • Station Address - 45 Mitchell St, Bryson City, NC 28713
  • Contact - (800)872-4681

Costs And Train Ride Info

With Nine possible experience options for those who wish to ride the train through the Great Smoky Mountains, there are a few things for visitors to consider. Travelers need to first ask themselves what it is they want out of this experience; then, they can start narrowing down their options. For straightforward excursions at lower costs, the Nantahala Gorge or Tuckasegee River Excursion may be the best option. Uncorked Wine Experience or Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience could be fun for a group of friends or on a date night. Travelers can check out a couple of example excursions or book now.

  • Event Booking - Link

Nantahala Gorge Excursion

Travelers who select this excursion will enjoy the sights and sounds of the Great Smoky Mountain as they puff along, traveling by the Nantahala River. During the trip, they will pass by the historic trellis bridge Fontana Trestle which will take riders across Fontana Lake and into the stunning Nantahala Gorge. The excursion then pauses for a one-hour layover in the heart of Nantahala Gorge to allow for some sightseeing and relaxation!

  • Dates - April 1st to Oct 31st
  • Adult - $56 - $139
  • Children (2-12) - $32 - $60

Related: 10 Adorable North Carolina Mountain Towns You Should Visit

Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience

Adult guests are welcomed on board the Carolina Shine, GSMR’s adult-only and first-class moonshine car. Here they proudly serve guests handcrafted, triple-distilled, craft moonshine. They offer some of the smoothest tasting moonshines that can be found in the Carolinas. This excursion rides along the Nantahala Gorge route in a first-class dining car. The car’s interior features copper-lined walls filled with moonshining history. Travelers who enjoy this excursion can also learn a great deal about the proud tradition that the Appalachians established when bootlegging was deemed an acceptable way of life and local home brews were the best in town. Travelers should also give their selection of moonshine cocktails a shot!

  • Ages - 21+
  • Dates - May 27th to Oct 31st
  • Cost - $114 - $129

The Polar Express

The Polar Express route offered by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is back in 2022. This is a one-hour, 15-minute passenger experience that captures the holiday spirit. The train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness for an imaginative visit to the North Pole. Set to the soundtrack of the Polar Express movie, children will experience the tail brought to life. And at the end of each Polar Express adventure, the children will receive a gift.

  • Dates - Nov 10th to Dec 31st
  • Cost - $43 - $93

Related: 8 Top-Rated Aquariums Worth Visiting In North Carolina

When to go

Due to the selection of open-air and climate-controlled cars, there is really no right or wrong answer to when to go ride the train through the Great Smoky Mountains. Travelers to the Smoky Mountains can time their arrival based on when it is convenient for them or according to seasonal events they may be more interested in. During the Spring, the area around the train hosts a Spring Festival. During the summer, there are Hillbilly Jams and Arbor Evenings. The Fall welcomes multiple festivals and craft fairs. And finally, the Winter welcomes the polar express train and the Christmas events.

Is the Great Smoky Mountains Train Ride Worth It?

With such a variety of rides offered to visitors, there is a flavor of adventure perfect for any individual or group. Parents with children can enjoy holiday events with the kids as they excitedly experience the world around them in a new way. A local group of old friends can get together to enjoy the wine tasting. A young couple could go out and enjoy some moonshine. With such a variety of adventures, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is worth it.