Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Worth the Trip and Then Some


Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Worth The Trip and Then Some

By Giles Kennedy

Chief Editor and Founder The Ohio Railroader Website

Chief Administrator Ohio Valley Rails Facebook Page


A lot of Ohioans, Midwesterners and even folks from the Mid Atlantic and Great Lakes regions come in droves to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Why not? It is the most visited and the only national park that requires no entry fee. (Rental for campground and other activities, fees apply when stated)

There are also many towns and cities within in or near the park property. Galtinburg, Piegon Forge, Sevierville, Cherokee (NC), and Townsend (TN) are many places folks visit.

There is one town in North Carolina that you can board a train, ride through the park, stop at an outdoor adventure area, chose to either kayak, hike, bike or cruise with a Jeep through the area.

Bryson City, NC is home to the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. It is one of several roads owned by American Hertiage Railroads. They are also proud owners and operators of the Durango and Silverton Railroad.

The ride that is most popular and the one my family rode was the Nantahala Gorge Excursion.

From the website…

“Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Great Smoky Mountains while traveling along the Tennessee and Nantahala (nan-tuh-HAY-luh) River.The historic trellis bridge Fontana Trestle takes you across Fontana Lake and into the beautiful Nantahala Gorge. Arrive at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for a one-hour layover where you can relax by the river or enjoy sightseeing! The Nantahala Gorge Excursion operates March through October.”

Riders do have options to raft or kayak the rivers, rent a Jeep or even zipline. See the main website for details.

My wife Tanya, daughter Hannah and myself enjoyed the ride greatly.

Makayla, our ride attendant on the Piedmont Car; was a great host and informative young lady.

We paid for the Crown service; which gives you a souvenir cup with unlimited refills of coffee and/or soft drinks. We also upgraded for the on board lunch. Tanya got the veggie wrap box lunch. Hannah and I, being BBQ fans; opted for the Pulled Pork Sandwich platters. They included a bag of chips as well as a pair of cookies.

The ride, approximately 3 hours; was a scenic filled train trip. The train station is located in Downtown Bryson City; off US 19 and US 74. With easy access to the Smokies, we found it to be a convenient and enjoyable train ride.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center is a sensory overload for campers, hikers, kayakers and thrill seekers. On top of being a way station of all the above; many universities and outdoor groups call this home for research and training.

Any of the packages can be found at their website. Military, senior, and AAA discounts are available for any bookings.

Whether you hail from Westerville, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich; Indy, Pittsburgh or anywhere in the Great Lakes or Ohio Valley region….this train trip is worth allotting a day on your next Smoky Mountain adventure.

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