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Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of our common questions! If you still can’t find what you are looking for feel free to contact us!

Where do your trains depart from?

All of our general excursions, special event trains, and activities depart from the historic Bryson City Depot in Bryson City, North Carolina.

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Are restrooms available on the train?

Yes, we have restrooms available to everyone throughout the train. However, we only have one handicap accessible restroom. If anyone in your party requires a handicap accessible restroom, please speak with a reservationist at (800) 872-4681.

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What amenities are included with First Class seating?

Please refer to the dedicated excursion or event page for a complete description of the classes of service available.

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I was planning on taking the Nantahala Gorge Excursion, could you tell me what is served in your on board lunch choices?

Passengers on the Nantahala Gorge Excursion may visit the concessions car for snack items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, pretzels, chips, cookies, crackers, candy, Coca-Cola® products, beer, wine, and coffee. We also offer boxed lunch options!

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What about Winter Weather?

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is not afraid of a little winter weather! All trains, including special event trains, operate through winter weather. Of course, we want all of our guests to remain safe on their travels. In the event that the North Carolina Highway Patrol or Department of Motor Vehicles deems travel unsafe on Interstate 40 or Highway 74 resulting in a closure, please call your reservations staff at 1-800-872-4681 for further details and instructions. The option of rescheduling is always available at a nominal fee as well as the option for overnight accommodations.

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Is the train accessible to guests with special needs?

On vintage rail cars, accommodations for passengers with special needs are limited. We have an open air gondola on the which is equipped with a hydraulic lift for wheelchair boarding and deboarding assistance. It also has a handicap accessible restroom. Based on the varied train consist at times we may be unable to operate the hydraulic lift to deboard guests during the layover as the terrain is not wheel chair accessible. Guests are invited to remain on the train at this time. Special event train consists may not be equipped with the hydraulic lift. We ask that the passengers desiring to ride on a special event train contact reservations personally so that other arrangements can be made. 

Boarding assistance with golf carts is available to accommodate guests who have limited walking or standing capabilities. Please call 800-872-4681 to speak with a GSMR representative who can assist in arranging and making reservations for your visit. Once arriving at the depot, please make the ticket office staff aware of you need for assisted boarding.

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Is alcohol served on the train?

Yes. Daytime excursions have a full bar option available in our First Class Seating ticket holders. Beer and wine service is available for purchase in the Conductor's Cafe Car. Cash and all major credit cards accepted. Under no circumstances will carry on or previously purchased alcohol be permitted on the train.

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Can we bring our own lunch?

For the comfort and safety of all guests and staff, coolers and picnic baskets are not permitted on board. There are numerous options for both food and drink available on board the train, at and around the depot, and at layovers. If anyone in your party has special dietary needs, please contact our reservations department at (800) 872-4681 to make arrangements.

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Do you have any discounts?

We have a variety of discounts and special offers that vary throughout the year. Check out our Hot Deals frequently.

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Any specific dress code?

For general excursions and special event trains no. But due to the continuous movement of passenger coaches and thresholds between passenger coaches, it is highly recommended that proper footwear be worn by all train passengers. We recommend rubber sole shoes or tennis shoes be worn. Open toed sandals, high heels, or flip flops should NOT be worn onboard the train. Passengers who are rafting should wear appropriate water shoes with toes and heels enclosed while onboard train.

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What is the difference between Coach and Crown Class?

Coach Class passengers enjoy restored vintage coaches that date back as early as 1920 and feature windows that open for fresh air viewing, ceiling fans and heat for cooler days. Coach Class Seating also offers Open Air Gondola cars created from retired baggage and flatbed cars. These open cars feature long padded outward facing seats, perfect for the panoramic views.

Crown Class passengers enjoy the same vintage coach as Coach Class passengers, and also receive a souvenir tumbler at the depot by depot personel, that they can fill with a fountain soda at the depot café. Refills are available onboard in the Conductor's Cafe.

CLICK HERE FOR A SEATING OVERVIEW

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How can I find out if a trip is available without making online reservations?

Please call our Reservations Office and they will be glad to check on available seating at 1-800-872-4681.

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How can I purchase gift certificates?

To purchase gift certificates please call 1-800-872-4681. You can purchase gift certificates in whatever face value amount you wish and they are good for one year from date of purchase.

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Do you have any special rates for groups?

We have special rates for groups of 20 or more paying passengers on many of our excursions. Please call 1-800-872-4681, option 3 to speak with group reservationist for details.

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Do I absolutely need advanced reservations?

You can purchase your tickets in the deport the day of, and you can make reservations as late as the day before. However, we recommend you book as soon as you’re decided on a date as some days have special excursions and sometimes the class of service you want or the whole train will be sold out.

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Are pets allowed on your excursions?

Sorry, no pets are allowed on the train--Service Animals only

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Is there a kennel nearby to lodge our dog for a half-day trip?

Daily boarding is available at Cherokee Animal Care Clinic at a rate of $18 per day; animals can be dropped off any time after 8:30AM and must be picked up by 6pm Monday-Friday.  On Saturdays, pets need to be dropped off at 8:30AM and picked up at 5PM. Daily boarding is not available on Sundays.

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On Raft 'n Rail or the Rapid Transit excursions, what type of seating is provided?

All seating for both the Raft 'n Rail and Rapid Transit excursions is in the open car seating.

CLICK HERE FOR A SEATING OVERVIEW

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How long does your Nantahala Gorge excursions last?

The Nantahala Gorge Excursion is 4.5 hours in length and has a one hour layover on the river in the Nantahala Gorge, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

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When you make an online reservation is the credit card charged immediately or is it simply to hold tickets?

All reservations must be prepaid, therefore, if we are able to confirm your reservation, we charge your credit card within 48 hours of submitting the on-line reservation request.

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Do you have season passes?

Yes, we do!

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What hotel accommodations are available in or near your depots?

Please call us for details about our packages or view the hotel packages here with convenient lodging establishments in the area. You can also refer to the links section of our website for information regarding area lodging that we recommend. Also, for information on area lodging you can call the Smoky Mountain Host for a guide book 800.432.4678, or call the respective Chambers of Commerce; Jackson County (Dillsboro) 800.962.1911 and Swain County (Bryson City) 800.867.9246.

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What is the closest airport to Bryson City, and how can I get to Bryson City from there?

Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, GA is 3 1/2 to 4 hours south of this area. There are also regional airports at Knoxville, TN (2 1/2 hours north west) and Asheville, NC (1 1/2 hours east), and another international airport in Charlotte, NC (3 1/2 hours east). When you find the airport that best suits your needs call 1-800-872-4681 for driving directions or print directions directly from our website

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What is the minimum age requirement for children to do the rafting/train combo?

Children must weigh a minimum of 60 pounds or be at least 7 years of age. This is a NC Forest Service regulation. Rafting companies may weigh them at the depot if weight is suspect. Find out all abour our rafting packages here

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What are the ages for a child’s ticket?

Child tickets are available to those between the ages of 2 and 12 years old, and infant tickets are available to those 23 months and younger. Anyone 13 years or older are considered adults.

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When a ticket is purchased over the internet, is it mailed out? If not, where or how are we expected to pick it up?

For all excursions tickets are printed and ready for pickup when the depot opens. Arrival one hour before the excursion departure time is recommended.

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Does the Nantahala Gorge Excursion have views of the mountains?

Our train route is located in the mountains of western North Carolina. Depending on your route of travel, you must travel across The Great Smokies, Blue Ridge or Balsam Mountains. Therefore, all train excursions have distance views of these beautiful mountains.

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How long is the Tuckasegee Excursion?

Trains depart from the historic Bryson City depot. This 4 hour, 32 mile round-trip travels along the Tuckasegee River, through the historic Cowee Tunnel, and past The Fugitive movie film site. Arrive in the quaint village of Dillsboro for a 1½ hour layover for shopping and dining.

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How far is it from Gatlinburg to the Bryson City Depot?

Normal travel time from Gatlinburg to our Bryson City Depot is 2 to 2.5 hours. Travel time during peak periods (usually July, October and holiday weekends) may be significantly longer.

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What is the status of the Murphy-Andrews segment of the line? Are there any plans to restore freight/passenger service?

We have no plans to restore passenger excursions at this time. That section of track is owned, not by GSMR, but by the State of North Carolina.

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What is the Nantahala Outdoor Center?

The Nantahala Outdoor Center is an outdoor adventure destination consisting of a complex of shops and restaurants located on the banks of the Nantahala River in the Nantahala Gorge between Bryson City and Andrews, NC. It caters to outdoor sports such as canoeing, rafting, kayaking, hiking, cycling, etc. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala River at this point. Visit them here on the web

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Where do we park?

Parking is conveniently located across the street from the Bryson City Depot at:

45 Mitchell St
Bryson City, NC 28713
Lat: 35.429756 Lon: -83.447714

A $5.00 per vehicle (including motorcycles) or $7.00 per RV cash parking fee is required. Limited handicap parking is available. There is two-hour street parking around Bryson City, but please keep in mind that your train adventure may take more than two hours. We encourage all passengers to take advantage of our convenient all day parking.

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Where can I find information about your sister railroad, the Durango & Silverton?

You can visit the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad web site to find information about schedules and rates. You may also call Durango directly at (877) 872-4607.

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Our Trains

Once the 1702 & 722 trains are restored, what operational changes do you plan on making?

1702 will return to the GSMR operational schedule July 22, 2016! Find the details HERE!  As of now, there are no plans for the restoration of 722.

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What kind of maintenance do you perform on 1702 or 722 when they are not running?

The 1702 will follow the FRA regulations in between operational excursion service. 

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How long has the railway had locomotive 1702 and what railroad cars were used in the movie My Fellow Americans?

The railroad acquired the 1702 approximately 1996. The Royal Palm crown coach was used in the filming of My Fellow Americans. The film also used a baggage car which showed up again later in the film Forces of Nature.

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What kind of freight products do you haul?

We haul freight products according to demand. Please call for further information.

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Is your line standard 56.5 inch track or narrow gauge 36 inch?

The Murphy Branch on which the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates is a full gauge working railroad that provides both passenger and freight service over 53 miles of track. Our sister railroad, the Durango and Silverton in Colorado is a narrow gauge railroad.

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Is the 1702 coal fired or oil fired?

The 1702 locomotive was originally coal fired. It has been converted to operate off a mixture of heavy diesel fuel and recovered motor oil.

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What is the difference between diesel and steam engines?

The steam engine has the sights and sounds of the old time railroad. This engine requires more personnel and significantly higher maintenance costs. The passenger cars and routes are the same regardless of the locomotive pulling the train.

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Do you permit smoking on the train?

Smoking is not permitted on board any train at any time. We have designated smoking areas at all depots and layover locations.

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