Washington Park and Zoo Railway

The Washington Park and Zoo Railway is Oregon's most spectacular recreational railroad. Open-air excursion cars carry 350,000 riders each year around the zoo and through Portland's beautiful Washington Park.

The Washington Park and Zoo Railway offers zoo visitors an excursion aboard diesel or steam powered trains over 30-inch gauge track on grades up to 4 percent. On its two runs, the railway operates three trains which are approximately five-sixths the size of the old narrow-gauge trains. All trains feature covered, open-air cars.

Zoo loop

The zoo loop is the shorter of the railway's two runs: a 1-mile route around the zoo's perimeter.

Hours and dates of operation

  • Feb. 18 to March 23 – weekends only
  • March 24 to April 14 – daily
  • April 15 to May 25 – weekdays

First train at 10:30 a.m. Weather dependent.

Ticket prices

Ages 3 and older: $3.50
Oregon Zoo member: $3
Ages 2 and under: Free

Washington Park run

The 4-mile, 35-minute Washington Park run winds from the zoo through the forests of Washington Park to a station above the International Rose Test Garden and back to the zoo, including the zoo loop. A reboarding stamp lets passengers disembark at the Washington Park station, visit the Rose Garden, Portland Japanese Garden or the children's park and return to the zoo on a later train at no charge.

Accessibility note

The path to Washington Park attractions includes a 44-step staircase and is not wheelchair-accessible.

Hours and dates of operation

  • April 14 to May 25 – weekends only, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • May 26 to Sept. 30 – daily, beginning at 10:30 a.m.; last run is weather dependent.

Ticket prices

Ages 3 and older: $5
Oregon Zoo member: $4.50
Ages 2 and under: Free

For both the Zoo Loop and the Washington Park run:

  • passengers must pay zoo admission
  • a 20-percent discount is available for groups of 20 or more when payment is made at one time
  • zoo animals are not visible from the train 
  • the Washington Park station path is not ADA-accessible 
  • two cars are equipped with wheelchair lifts 
  • train runs are weather dependent.

Special ZooLights train rides

Take a train ride through a winter wonderland on brightly decorated trains. Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving and running through December, the zoo is transformed with one million lights and more than 200 sparkling animal silhouettes for ZooLights. Discounted packages include zoo admission and the ZooLights train.

Thrill ride

Immerse yourself in a 3D virtual experience on the zoo's thrill ride. This motion-simulated theater teases the senses while allowing your imagination to visit another world. Located at Tiger Plaza, the thrill ride offers a "must-experience" opportunity for children and adults.

Ticket prices

General admission: $5
Oregon Zoo member: $4

Must be 42" to ride alone.

About the trains of the Oregon Zoo

The Zooliner

This diesel-powered streamliner was built in 1958 as a replica of General Motors' "Aerotrain." The engine's 175 horsepower is transmitted to eight driving wheels through a hydraulic-type torque converter transmission and axle-mounted gear boxes. Safety features include a "dead man control" to ease the train to a halt in an emergency. A governor holds the train to a 12-mile-per-hour maximum. A conventional automatic air brake system provides safe train handling.

The "Oregon" steam locomotive

Built in 1959 for the Oregon Centennial, the "Oregon" is reminiscent of the 1800s. The locomotive is painted in bright colors with polished brass trimmings. A brass bell is mounted on the gleaming boiler jacket between the sand dome and stack. The locomotive is patterned after the Baldwin Locomotive Works "Reno", purchased new in 1872 by the Virginia and Truckee RR. It is an oil-burning American 4-4-0 type, burning environmentally-friendly 99 percent biodiesel. It features a diamond stack and big headlight featuring hand-painted pictures of Crater Lake on one side and Mt. Hood on the other. The "Oregon" operates on a limited schedule.

The "Oregon" steam train operates:

  • Memorial Day weekend
  • Zooliner and steamer birthday, June 16 and 17
  • Labor Day weekend
  • During ZooLights

The steam train may also run on busy summer weekends.

The Oregon Express

Rebuilt in 2007, the Oregon Express is powered with the same diesel engine/transmission combination as the Zooliner, but power is generated to the four driving wheels through a right-angle gear box and chain drive. It has the same safety features as the other trains.