The highlight our our family trip to Tennessee was actually in North Carolina-crazy right! The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is a four hour trip in a working steam engine that takes you through the scenic Great Smoky Mountain National Park which runs through North Carolina and Tennessee. I went ahead and checked North Carolina off our fifty nifty family goal as state number 8 for Row-because well we were there for a good day!
We stayed in Pigeon Forge as mentioned in my previous post-which is so much fun and then drove through the Smoky Mountains across the mountain to Bryson City, North Carolina. I will say I planned and left 1.5 hours before the start of our train ride and we literally almost didn’t make it….learn from my mistake….in fact they radioed us into the Conductor while I ran with all belongings and my husband with child to locate said train across from parking. Why were we late? Pigeon Forge is only 30 miles from the railroad but you see when you drive through the National Park looking like this……
people like to take their time. Nothing like sweating it in the car as you wave to amazing views trying to get to your train.
The train has a number of different car options including dining-fancy table and chair, passenger and open gondola seating. I really wanted gondola seating but since we went in the beginning of April I wasn’t confident it would be warm enough so we went with the traditional comfy car seats and the car with the bathroom inside-important with children.
Our attendant was wonderful and funny and passed out snacks as soon as we got there-included! We also received a souvenir travel mug for each of us-they were actually really nice. Our ride took us through the scenic Nantahala Gorge area. The ride took about 1.5 hours up. We were entertained with stories of lore, history and singing.
We stopped half way at the river and were able to get out for about an hour and walk around. You can put your feet in the river, throw rocks, see the trail hikers and grab a bite to eat-but be quick about it.
We also had the chance to see a portion of the Appalachian Trail-which my husband dreams of hiking-but now at least he can say he’s been on it!
We loaded back on our train and had a pre purchased box lunch-it’s an option they provide and while it was fine I would pass and just grab a snack on the train in the food cart. They also come around and take a professional picture which was nice. We actually splurged on this trip as it’s a little pricey and I was hesitant since Row is 4 and I wasn’t sure how she would do on such a long trip but she was amazing and loved it. This trip was definitely worth every penny and the service was great! Add it to your Tennessee bucket list!