Scenic train rides are an underappreciated aspect of traveling. The ability for a traveler to freely soak oneself into the scenery as it passes by is an incredible experience. Taking advantage of the Amtrak system in the US, travelers have a wide variety of touring options available to them.
Brandon, being quite centrally located in southern Missouri, is an excellent central hub for those trying to tour the United States. With boarding options in Chicago and Sacramento, as well as scenic options that take travelers through the Ozarks, this is an excellent opportunity for any travelers.
The Appeal of Branson, Missouri
On the southern end of Missouri, travelers can venture to Branson, Missouri. This city combines honky-tonk bars, modern music venues, and theme parks with horseback trails, relaxing lakes, and wineries. Travelers using Amtrak to get closer to Branson will have a combination of natural wonders and city comforts to immerse themselves in.
Make an Escape from Chicago
Travelers looking to visit Branson from Chicago can take a 6-day train escape. America By Rail operates the tour that takes travelers along Amtrak’s Texas Eagle route and includes meals and accommodation. From this route, travelers will be able to take a shuttle into Branson. In total, the door spends three days discovering the town’s many attractions, and then a quick shuttle takes travelers to the Amtrak train station in Texarkana the next day, where the tour reunites with the Texas Eagle bound for San Antonio. The last two days, which include one overnight, are spent back on the train to Chicago.
Take the Train from Sacramento
Sacramento is another starting destination that travelers can take advantage of for an adventure down to Branson, Missouri. Travelers can hop on the early morning America By Rail tour that departs from Sacramento, California, on Amtrak’s California Zephyr. For three days, travelers will ride the train, enjoying views from the glass-wrapped top deck, as well as the accommodations offered by the train. Travelers will disembark in Chicago and then switch over to a coach that will take travelers on tours of Nashville and Memphis before landing in Branson. In Branson, travelers will spend three days sightseeing, dining, and enjoying great local entertainment. Eventually, a shuttle will take travelers to the Amtrak station in Kansas City, where travelers will complete this round-trip adventure by returning them to Sacramento.
Experience the Scenic Loop
Another option for travelers is to take the offered tour that takes travelers on a scenic loop. For the best views of the Ozarks that surround the city, travelers should hop on Branson’s very own Scenic Railway. The trip begins right from the downtown depot, and trains wind through the aesthetically green valleys of the Ozark foothills. Not only are the views fantastic, but the experience of riding along in the venerable old engine as it meanders its way through the route is quite memorable. Travelers will pass through historic runners and will pass ghost towns, the skeletons of which still linger in the hills. The excursions are fully narrated, so travelers will not miss out on any information.
- Offered - Year-Round
Two Distinct Routes
The Branson Scenic Railway has two routes that visitors can enjoy. The first route is the northern route; the second is the southern route. The northern route travelers through the Missouri countryside. It passes through Galena and the James River Valley. The southern route travelers into northwest Arkansas and across the charming Barren Fork Trestle. Each of these routes is a 40-mile round-trip and will take about an hour and 45 minutes to finish.
- Distance - North & South 40 miles
- Style - Round-Trip
The Best Times to Ride
Spring and Summer offer their usual charms to travelers wishing to ride the railroads. But with the sunshine, and flowers blooming over the stunning landscape, come the crowds. An equally beautiful time to visit is Autumn; though the color scheme and aesthetic shift some, it is still an amazing sight to take in. The benefit is that with autumn comes a reduction in crowds which can also at to the enjoyment of the experience.
- Operated - March through December
- Regular Excursions - Morning and afternoon departures (early evening during the summer)
- Departure Times - vary, and service is limited on Sundays, so be sure to check their online calendar.
Ticket Prices & Discounts
Below is some information for travelers regarding the purchasing of tickets for the Branson Scenic Loop. It is important to keep in mind that the prices will vary depending on the season and current demand for tickets.
- Contact - (800) 287-2462
- Regular Excursion Tickets (ages 13 and up) - $29.00 plus tax for adults
- Regular Excursion Tickets (ages 3 to 12) - $18.50 plus tax for children
- Regular Excursion Tickets (2 and under) - $2.00 for children ages two and under and do not require a seat.
- Regular Excursion Tickets (veterans and active service) - $14.50
- AAA Members - 10% discount on adult tickets
A Few Helpful Tips
Travelers shouldn’t have any issues with figuring out the tours, but just in case there are still some questions, here are a few helpful tips.
- Seating - Unassigned; however, boarding numbers are issued in the order the reservation is made.
- Early Reservations - are recommended, especially if travelers are hoping for a seat on one of the three bubble-topped, dome cars.
- Handicap Accommodations - arrive at least 40 minutes prior to departure. Accessibility is limited due to the historic nature of the cars. Wheelchairs must be 25 inches or fewer.