Yosemite National Park has long been a popular destination for travelers to explore. Travelers have many ways to explore the park, but perhaps they should consider the opportunity to explore the park on an old logging railroad.
Travelers have the opportunity to ride the famed Sugar Pine Railroad during a visit to Yosemite National Park. As long as they are visiting after the park opens in April and before it closes in November, they will have a chance to explore the park's history as well as experience its wildlife.
About The Sugar Pine Railroad
Having served a variety of uses in the past, the former logging railroad is not open to tourists who wish to tour Yosemite National Park as well as learn a bit about the history of the region and the railroad itself. They offer a variety of rides and special events that are friendly to the whole family too.
The railroad is located just 10 minutes from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, which is just off Highway 41. This storied railroad offers a bit more than train rides too. They offer gold panning adventures; they have an on-site museum and a gift store. They also have live music as part of a couple of their packages and special events.
Take A Look Into The Past
The train ride itself is a look into the region's past. Once belonging to a logging company, it is part of a history of powerful locomotives that would haul immense logs trains through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is the history of the region's lumberjacks and the industry that shaped many of the communities in the area. Now, with its stunning national park backdrop, it is a perfect way to take in a bit of the past.
What Else Is There To Do
Before or After taking a train ride at Sugar Pine Railroad, travelers can enjoy a few of their onsite accommodations. Their Thornberry Museum is open to visitors; they also have a gift shop and a café for travelers to grab a snack. Visitors will also have the chance to pan for real gold!
- Pan For Gold - Relive the excitement of the old ’49ers at Gold Rush City.
Price & Best Time To Go
The famous Sugar Pine Railroad runs from April to November each year, while the conditions allow great guests that wish to tour the park. Though taking a ride on the Sugar Pine Railroad at any time of year is great. However, those looking to see the park at its most aesthetic should visit during the middle of October. Around mid-October, fall foliage colors are at their peak at Yosemite, and with the weather not yet turned for the winter, it is a great time to take in the wonder of the park. Also, here is a look at the costs and packages available at the Sugar Pine Railroad.
Logger Steam Train
The logger Steam Train is the most popular attraction the railroad offers, and it is one of the most accessible. They offer an hour scenic rail ride along the historic railroad. Dogs that are well-behaved and on-leash are absolutely welcome to ride the train too. The conductor will also serve as a guide and will tell stories about the region's past as well as help travelers attempt to spot wildlife that could possibly be encountered.
- Cost Adults (13+) - $28
- Cost Children and Infants (12 and under) - $16
- First Class Caboose - $60
- First Class Cupola - $75
- Boxed Lunch - $8-$12
- Duration - 1-hour ride
- Ages - All Ages
- More Information
Yosemite Jazz Train
For travelers who want to turn a visit to the Sugar Pine Railroad into a night of entertainment, they should check out their Yosemite Jazz Train. This fully inclusive ride includes chef-prepared seasonal appetizers, an intimate conversation with the artist, and a meet-and-greet before boarding. Once on board, the train will take its passengers to Lewis Creek Amphitheater for an “unplugged” performance by that evening's artist.
- Cost Adults (13+) - $125
- Cost Children (12 and under) - $75
- Cost Infants (2 and under) - Free, but they must sit on their parent's lap.
- Duration - 3 hours
- More Information
What To See Along The Way
On this journey along the famed Sugar Pine Railroad, travelers will have a chance to take in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in a way similar to how the first pioneers did when Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company first lay train tracks in these mountains.
Sierra National Forest
The tour through this iconic American wilderness is to experience sights shared by those who first lay the track of the railroad. The terrain of the Sierra Nevada Forest includes rolling oak-covered foothills, with heavy forestation on slopes at middle elevation. This is where the famed Sugar Pine Railroad takes its travelers to explore.
Local Wild Life
One of the most fun aspects of the train ride on Sugar Pine Railroad is the chance to see local wildlife. Tour leaders are great at interrupting their usual talk to help guests spot some local wildlife. In varying degrees of possibility, travelers have a chance to see lodgepole chipmunk, mountain beaver, California mountain king snake, black bear, wolverine, California big horn sheep, Pacific fisher, mule deer, and mountain lion. Also, fans of birds might have a chance to see northern goshawk, mountain chickadee, pine grosbeak, California spotted owl, mountain quail, willow flycatcher, bald eagle, and great gray owl.