Today, Branson may be famous for its shows. But before this Midwestern town became an entertainment hotspot visitors from near and far frequented the area for its outdoor activities and pristine natural landscapes. This beauty has transcended time, and is still one of the best reasons to visit the Ozarks. To see a lot of the outdoor appeal of the area in a small amount of time hop aboard the Branson Scenic Railway.
Conveniently located in Downtown Branson, across the street from the Branson Landing, The Branson Scenic Railway has been operating out of this original depot since 1905. When you travel on this train, fondly known as the “Mainline through the Ozarks,” you’ll ride the rails on a true commercial railroad line. The train’s direction of travel – north or south – is determined just prior to departure by the Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad.
On the northern tour you’ll travel to Galena, Missouri to the James River Valley while on the southern tour you’ll visit Arkansas and the Barren Fork Trestle. As the train chugs along the rail line, you’ll see Ozark territory inaccessible by automobile and views unparalleled by other vantage points. Adding to the scenic sights is a knowledgeable narrator, highlighting historic areas and landmarks, including tales of bygone towns such as Melva and Ruth.
It’s easy to add a trip aboard the Branson Scenic Railway. Generally, the train has three or four scheduled departures daily. Each tour, which is 40 miles, lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes so you’ll have plenty of time to stroll through Downton or browse the paths of the Branson Landing afterwards. Seating is unassigned, but boarding numbers are issues in the order the reservation was made so it’s still recommended you reserve tickets in advance. That said, it is encouraged for train guests to move about the cars and experience the views from every angle. The wide windows of the lower level provide a decent expanse of the landscape, but the real views are found up top – in the panoramic dome cars.
The train blows its whistle March to December. Throughout their operating season they add special things to do aboard the train, which has been restored to its glory from fifty years ago. April to October a dinner train is hosted each Saturday at 5pm. Four-courses over candlelight creates a retro night worth sharing.
In November and December guests take to the North Pole during The Polar Express Experience. For fans of the class book, it’s a true treat. Kids hitch a ride to the North Pole to pick up Santa Claus, enjoying live narration of the book, cookies and cocoa. Once Old Saint Nick arrives, he visits each car and child presenting a special gift. Festive calories and even a trip through a local light display add to the magic of The Polar Express. Make reservations early for this one as it’s an extremely popular attraction and dates do sell out. Note: The Polar Express ride lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Add one of the Branson Scenic Railway excursions to your itinerary. Each offers a different experience, yet all are worth the journey! All aboard!
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|Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Branson to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.|