Frequently Asked Questions

The Passenger

Are the cars used for the Gourmet Dinner Train and Mystery Theatre Dinner Train climate controlled?
All of our dining cars are climate controlled.

Are restrooms available on the open air cars?
Most open air cars do not have restrooms, but there are restrooms available throughout the train. The car attendants will point out the locations for the closest restrooms, concession car, etc.

What snacks are served in the club car on the Nantahala Gorge Excursion?
Our Nantahala Gorge Club Car Excursions include a complimentary snack and light refreshments on both the departure and the return from Bryson City. Full bar service is also available in our club cars (cash or credit card). For more information about these offerings, call 1-800-872-4681.

I was planning on taking the Nantahala Gorge Excursion, could you tell me what is served in your picnic-style box lunches?
Picnic lunches include a choice of turkey, ham or roast beef, with cheese on the side. They also have chips, something for dessert and a beverage in a souvenir cup. A child's picnic lunch featuring peanut butter and jelly is also available. 

Is the train handicap accessible?
On vintage rail car service, accomodations for passengers with disabilities are limited. During warm weather we have an open car operating out of Dillsboro which has a hydraulic lift and handicap accessible restroom.  It is also important for us to coordinate with all prospective passengers who have limited walking/standing capabilities.  Please call 1-800-872-4681 x 7022 to speak with a GSMR representive who can assist in arranging and making reservations for your visit.

Is alcohol served on the train?
Our night-time dinner trains have a full bar option. Purchase is by credit card only. Daytime trips have a full bar option available in the Club Car to ticket holders for that car.  Alcohhol consumption in the club car only. Purchase is by cash or credit card.  All passengers on a gourmet dining trains or in our club car must be 21 years of age or older.

Can you bring your own lunch and are there facilities available to eat (i.e. picnic tables).
You are welcome to bring your own lunch & beverages on our regular excursions. Small coolers, please. It is not permissible to bring alcoholic beverages onboard. There are a limited number of picnic tables at each depot and at the Nantahala Gorge.  We have cafes at each our our depots.  The Nantahala Excursions have a full service concession car and the Tuckasegee excursions have limited concessions available in the Chessie car.

Do you have discount rates for AARP or AAA members?
We offer a 10% discount on upgraded seating to AAA members with the “Show Your Card & Save!” program. No other assocation discounts are available. We do not allow double discounts. GSMR does offer seasonal pricing that is significantly discounted during our One-Star Season. Discounts are not valid Saturdays in October, during special premier events or on the gourmet or mystery theatre dinner trains.

What is the difference between Standard Coach and Crown Coach cars?
Both the Coach and Crown Coach cars are traditional train cars with seating in sets of two that face each other. The Crown Coach is climate controlled and has large picture windows. Our Coach cars are heated and have windows that open and close.  See photos of our train cars here in the GSMR Photo Gallery.

What kind of attire do you wear on the Gourmet Dinner Train?
Dress on the Gourmet Dinner Train is described as dressy casual/cocktail attire. For many people this is a very special event, anniversary, birthday, and so on. Dress as you would when going to any fine dining establishment. This means no jeans, t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, tennis shoes or baseball caps.  Attire must be tasteful and the dress code is enforced.  A jacket or tie is not required, but appreciated.

How can you find out if a trip is available without making online reservations?
For additional information about excursions and options, current availability and to book a ride, call 1-800-872-4681.

I would like to buy some gift certificates for the dinner train. How do I go about doing this?
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 purchase.

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 x 7021 and speak with group reservations for details.

Do I absolutely need reservations?
We sell tickets at the depots on a space available basis up until 5 minutes before departure. We recommend advance reservations because some days have special excursions and sometimes certain seat classes or whole trains are sold out.  You may call 1-800-872-4681 to check on current availability or to book your trip.

Are pets allowed on the 1/2 day trip?
Sorry, no pets are allowed on the train--Certified Service Animals only

Is there a kennel nearby to lodge our dog for a 1/2 day trip?
All boarding facilities require a current written copy of the shot record from your local vet. Some kennels will provide both overnight and day-only boarding. Most, however, will accept only overnight boarders. Call 1-800-872-4681 for more specific information and contact numbers.

If we take the Raft ‘n’ Rail or the Rapid Transit trip, what rail car must we sit in?
All seating for both the Raft 'n' Rail and Rapid Transit excursions is in the open car.

How long do your daytime excursions last?
The Nantahala Gorge Excursion is 4.5 hours in length. The Tuckasegee River Excursion is 4 hours in length.  The Nantahala Gorge Excursion has a one hour layover and the Tuckasegee River Excursion has a 1.25 hour layover.

When you make an online reservation is your credit card charged right then or is it simply to hold your 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.

Do you have season passes like other attractions do?
At this time we do not have season passes.

Could you tell me when the Lake Fontana will be drained so that you can see the town that was flooded?
Lake Fontana was drained starting around Labor Day, 2000. There is no draw-down scheduled at this time. Each fall the level is allowed to drop somewhat to accommodate winter rains and snows.

What hotel accommodations are available in or near your depots?
Please call us for details about our packages 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.

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. If there is a question, the rafting companies will weigh them at the depot. This is a Forest Service Regulation.

Do you accommodate vegetarians on your dinner train?
Yes, just ask for the vegetarian entree at the time you book your reservation.

What are the ages for a child's ticket?
For most excursions there are two groups of children's tickets. Children's tickets are for ages 2+ to 12. Children ages 24 Months and under receive a ticket, but ride for free. On The Little Engine that Could, Day out with Thomas, Peanuts - The Great Pumpkin Patch Express & The Polar Express. Children 24 months and younger receive a ticket, but ride for free.

When a ticket is processed over the internet, is it mailed out? If not, where or how are we expected to pick it up?
For all excursions except Day Out With Thomas, tickets are printed and ready for pickup when the depot opens and arrival one hour before you ride is recommended. Thomas tickets are mailed in advance and continue to be mailed until two weeks prior to the event.

The Train

Once the 722 is restored, what operational changes do you plan on making? How will 1702 and 722 be operated, for instance, would one engine pull an excursion from Dillsboro and the other from Bryson City, or double-heading or what? Also, what kind of maintenance do you perform on 1702 when it's not running?
The expected date for the completion of 722 is still tentative. As of now, there is no operational schedule in place for the 722. Our intention would be to offer additional steam service and our long-term goal is to become an all steam operation. The 1702 is currently in maintenance to have an interior firebox replacement. This includes the rear flue, sides, crown, and door sheets. The current goal is to have the new sheets formed and fitted by the end of the year.

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. They also used a baggage car which showed up again later in the filming of Forces of Nature.

What kind of freight products do you haul and when is it switched?
Our main shippers include a chicken farm in Andrews, NC to which we haul corn and soy meal. We haul freight products according to demand.

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.

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.

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.

The Excursion

What is the closest airport to GSMR, and how can I get to GSMR 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 - Directions to GSMR.

Can you send me a pamphlet for the Durango & Silverton?
You can visit the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad web site at to find information about schedules and rates.  You may also call Durango directly at (877) 872-4607.

I would like some information on employment opportunities at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
You may contact our Human Resources Department by downloading an application and submitting it via mail or fax.  You may also email a resume and letter of interest to No phone calls please.

Which of the Half Day excursions: Tuckasegee River or Nantahala Gorge Excursions has 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.

Was it your railway, where the train crash scene of the film "The Fugitive" was recorded?
Any of our trips that originate in Dillsboro go by this site. "The Fugitive" was one of many movies in which our equipment was featured.

Which one of the trips will go by the wreckage from the "The Fugitive" movie?
Any of our trips which originate in Dillsboro go by this site. Trips like the Tuckasegee River Excursion and Whittier Sundown Excursion allow passengers to get a good view of this wreckage.

How far is it from Gatlinburg to the depot?
Normal travel time from Gatlinburg to either our Dillsboro depot or the one at Bryson City is 2 to 2.5 hours. Travel time during peak periods (usually July, October and holiday weekends) may be significantly longer.

What is the status of the Murphy-Andrews segment of the line? Is the track intact? If so, 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.

What is the Nantahala Outdoor Center?
The Nantahala Outdoor Center is an outdoor adventure destination consisting of a complex of shops and restaurants located 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.

Do you offer travel agent discounts and if yes,how do you make reservations and apply the discount?
We offer group discounts for groups of 20 or more. Please call our Reservation Center at 1-800-872-4681 x 7021 and speak with a group reservationist for information and pricing.