Mountains and trains seem to go together, especially in the Appalachian mountains near the east coast. The range known as the Smoky Mountains can be viewed in many ways, but one of the best is by train. The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is celebrating its 25th year of giving tours in western North Carolina.
Located in Bryson City, NC the railroad has been carrying passengers since 1988. Several different packages are available as are some route options. Two of those routes include the Nantahala Gorge Excursion and the Tuckasegee River Excursion. The Tuckasegee trip is 32 miles round-trip to Dillsboro and back to the Bryson City depot. Riders will pass by the infamous movie set of The Fugitive which starred Harrison Ford. It is the only currently offered excursion until the spring. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion becomes available in March of 2014. Departing from Bryson City, this four-and-a-half hour excursion carries you 44 miles to the Nantahala Gorge and back again arriving at the Bryson City depot.
The Polar Express is an annual November-December option. Over 48,000 passengers rode The Polar Express with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in 2012. Then, on New Year's Eve there is a special train ride of dancing and singing.
For train schedules, packages (which include cabins, zip lines and rafting), and seating options see the website. Also, there is a museum called The Great Smoky Mountain Trains Museum to visit. It has over 7,000 Lionel trains. Admission is free with any purchased train ticket.
The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad runs year-round and offers special events throughout the year. It's a great way to keep in touch with the past and enjoy the present.