Ride Through the Great Smoky Mountains During Peak Fall Foliage With This Railroad Experience

Rainy Autumn Day in the Great Smoky Mountains

Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.

Nothing says autumn quite like admiring the red, yellow, and orange hues of the changing leaves. And this November, fall foliage fanatics can embark on a special train journey through the Great Smoky Mountains with prime views of the colorful trees.

The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum has organized a one-time event on Nov. 1 that will take guests along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad through the mountains and picturesque countryside of North Carolina. The excursion will start in Bryson City, North Carolina, before making its way to Nantahala Gorge and then back to Bryson.

The trip covers most of the current operating trackage of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The route hugs the banks of the Little Tennessee and Nantahala rivers, and crosses Fontana Lake on a trestle standing 100 feet above the water. All the while, guests can look out their windows to take in the view.

But this full-day rail excursion actually begins before the train leaves the station, as ticket holders can enjoy complimentary admission to the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum, which boasts a collection of 7,000 Lionel engines, cars and accessories, a children's activity center, and more.

For their onboard experience, passengers can choose between Crown, Tourist Coach, or Open-air Coach tickets. (First-class tickets have already sold out.) All classes offer seating in vintage, restored passenger cars with heating (except Open-air Coach). Tourist Coach cars feature ceiling fans and windows that open and close for fresh-air viewing, while Crown cars offer larger windows for better viewing, although these do not open. First-class passengers will be treated to lounge car seating and stunning views through large windows that also do not open. The first-class ticket also includes a meal and dessert. Passengers in other classes may order a boxed lunch as they purchase their ticket, or choose to bring their own food.

Ticket prices range from $70 to $159 per person. For more information, visit the official website of the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum.

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