Side Trips: Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

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If you have "done it all" in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville area during your stay, have time and want to try something new out of the way, consider a side trip that you can do in one day.  


Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, North Carolina


Drive about 1 hrs 45 mins from the hustle and bustle of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to Bryson City, NC where the Great Smoky Mountains railroad depot is located.



Start off your sightseeing at a charming historic depot in Bryson City, a miniature train museum, shops, and eateries. The railroad's passenger excursions take you through the beautiful countryside of Western North Carolina to various destinations. Depending on the season, you can take the steam-powered or diesel-powered train, as well as special event trains -  perfect for making memories and experiencing the true form of railroading!



There are several options of cars to ride in - First Class Cars with a private attendant or pre-purchased boxed lunches in other seating options (including an open-air car) to take in the breathtaking views. 


“Shine and Dine” on the railway!


Ride on board of the Carolina Shine, GSMR’s All-Adult First Class Moonshine Car (All-Adult First Class ride with an attendant). You will be served hand-crafted, triple-distilled, craft moonshine. Some of the smoothest tasting moonshine in the Carolinas! Offered on the Nantahala Gorge excursion, this shine and dine experience begins in a renovated First Class train fleet car, The Carolina Shine. Learn about the proud tradition that the Appalachians established when bootlegging was an acceptable way of life and local home brews were the best in town. Sample flavors like Apple Pie, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, and Strawberry moonshine. If the samples are not enough, there will be plenty of Moonshine-infused cocktails like Copper Cola or Moonshiner’s Mimosa available for purchase. A popular BBQ meal is served. 


GSMR destinations



Several train ride excursions are offered seasonally. Nantahala Gorge Excursion that takes you across Fontana Lake via the historic trellis bridge Fontana Trestle and into the beautiful Nantahala Gorge. Arrive at your layover destination in the heart of the Nantahala Gorge for a one-hour layover where you can relax by the river or enjoy sightseeing!



The Tuckasegee (tuck-uh-SEE-jee) River Excursion includes a 1½-hour layover in the historic town of Dillsboro, where you’ll find more than 50 shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and country inns. There is time to shop, snack, and visit the many unique shops before returning to Bryson City.

Polar Express runs in November and December.


Several combination packages are also available: 


"Rail & Trail" combines a train ride with the Waterfall Jeep® tour. Starts with a 2-hour (approximate) railroad excursion over Fontana Lake and into the Nantahala Gorge. "Private Caboose Party" - ride in style aboard your very own restored Caboose. Great for family reunions, birthday parties, and other celebrations. The original "Raft & Rail©" since 1988: enjoy the two best adventures in the region in one day, great for families. "Tarzan Train" - train and canopy combo trip. Ride through the Smoky Mountains, along Fontana Lake, and up into the Nantahala Gorge. 


From Appalachian Escape Cabin via US 441 S  - 51.5 mi 1 hr 45 min

From Ridge View Lodge via US 441 S - 53 mi 1 hr 46 min