Train tours on board a theme train or heritage train give group tours the feeling of stepping into another lifestyle. Some rail journeys evoke the rich and famous rail barons. Others remind passengers of the great western expansion or the challenges of mastering mountain ranges. All provide a slice of life of another time and place.
Here are five fabled train tours that roll out the red carpet for groups.
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
Experience elegant dining on the rails in Iowa. This two hour and 15 minute ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad travels through the bucolic Des Moines River Valley. It features historic 1950s passenger cars, which were used on the Union Pacific Railroad’s famous streamliners. The route crosses the 156-foot, Bass Point Creek High Bridge, the highest single-track inter-urban railroad bridge in the country. Dinner is served with BYOB options. Business casual dress is suggested.
Christmas Wine Trains
Groups can hop aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s Christmas Wine Train at the Grapevine Depot. Located downtown, the seasonal favorite is a festive event for grown-ups — 21 years of age or older. Grapevine is the Christmas Capital of Texas, so expect an over-the-top holiday event with many photo ops, including one with Santa. Catered hors d’oeuvres are served with two glasses of local Texas wine.
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway provides spectacular view of Grand Canyon National Park and the south rim. Onboard, musicians play western tunes, but be watchful for would-be train robbers. The Cataract Creek Gang attempts to rob the train whenever it leaves the station. For one-way tours, motorcoaches can meet the train to pick up the group. If the group opts for a round-trip excursion, watch for the Cataract Creek Gang on horseback on the return.
Mountain Rail Group Adventures
Elkins & Durbin, West Virginia
There is a freedom of choice in mountain adventures on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad in West Virginia. A southbound trip leaves the restored depot in Wilkins on the Cheat Mountain Salamander for a trip through unspoiled mountain scenery that includes a stop at High Falls for an onboard lunch. Groups transfer at Cheat Bridge for a short motorcoach drive to Durbin to board the Durbin Rocket for a round-trip journey along the upper Greenbrier River. More options: Return to Elkins for a buffet at the Railyard Restaurant or remain in Durbin for a Depot Dinner in the 1902 Victorian C&O RR Depot.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Ride a historic train on 45 miles of rails originally laid in 1882 between the mining town of Silverton and the railroad-built town of Durango, Colorado. The narrow-gauge line was built to haul silver and gold ore from southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, but passengers soon realized it was the view that was precious. The celebrated Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train has been in continuous operation since 1882. Special train tours are offered including the Durango Wine and Rails tour, which includes sampling Colorado wine while enjoying the wilderness from the train.