Step Back in Time on The Great Smoky Mountains Railway
By Jon Hoffman © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Planning a Smoky Mountain vacation? You’ve no doubt got a list of things you’d like to do and see – from Dollywood to a zipline tour. But don’t forget to take time to just enjoy the stunning scenery that surrounds Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. With hundreds of square miles of pristine wilderness, the Great Smoky Mountains offer plenty of opportunities for back-to-nature relaxation for your entire family.

Enjoy the Mountains from a Different Point of View

Just a short drive from Gatlinburg in historic downtown Bryson City, NC, you’ll find a fully restored 1920s passenger train waiting to carry you through the mountains for a one-of-a-kind adventure the entire family will enjoy.  Step aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railway and into a world where life is more leisurely and you really can take time to enjoy the scenery. And in the Smoky Mountains spectacular views greet you with every bend in the tracks.

Choose an open-air gondola to experience crisp, clean air of this vast wilderness, or relax in the luxurious style of the aristocrats in first class. Day trips include the Nantahala Gorge Excursion, featuring a 44-mile trip along the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers, a crossing of Fontana Lake, and a one-hour layover at Nantahala Gorge. Enjoy a picnic by the river or just relax before heading back to Bryson City.

The Tuskasegee River Excursion is the perfect mix of scenery and shopping, and includes a layover in the historic city of Dillsboro, where more than 50 quaint shops beg for exploration. Enjoy lunch in a quiet café before boarding your train back to the depot, your shopping bags and heart full of memories of your unique getaway.

Fun for the Whole Family

Throughout the month of October, join Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy on a trek to the famous pumpkin patch. Along the way you’ll enjoy hearing the story of the Great Pumpkin, and once you arrive the entire family will find plenty of entertainment. Kids will be clamoring to get inside the bouncy house, collect a bonanza of candy in an early trick-or-treat excursion, and toast some marshmallows around the campfire. Plus, each youngster gets to choose his or her own pumpkin to take home and carve. Don’t forget to wear your Halloween costume for this fun-filled family outing.

Or hop aboard the Polar Express in November or December for a round-trip ticket to the North Pole. Enjoy a warm cup of cocoa while you listen and read along with this enchanting story. On arrival, you’ll meet up with Santa and every child will receive a silver sleigh bell. The return trip is filled with joyful caroling and laughter, making this train ride the perfect way to kick off a wonderful holiday season with your little ones.

In today’s fast-paced world where darting from place to place has become the norm and vacations are judged by how many activities you pack into them, why not take a day just to relax? Spend the afternoon aboard a restored passenger train and enjoy the scenery from a luxurious dining car, much as leisurely travelers did a century ago. You’ll remember many things about your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, but your favorite memory will be of the time spent just watching the world go by. 

Jon Hoffman is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Smoky Mountain cabins. Visit the main website to book cabins for your next Smoky Mountain Vacation.