We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Extremely Disappointing” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad
226 Everett Street, Bryson City, NC 28713
Improve this listing
Ranked #4 of 24 things to do in Bryson City
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: A 52-mile rail journey through valleys, inside winding tunnels and across spectacular gorges of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Wallace, North Carolina
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Extremely Disappointing”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2013

We decided to do the tourist thing during our week in Maggie Valley and were really looking forward to our day on the Smokey Mountain Railroad. We decided to do it right and go first class after talking to the gal on the phone and viewing the website. We arrived early and checked in with no problem and appreciated the fact that we were credited 10% for or AAA discount that we had forgotten to mention when making the reservation the day before. However, thing went steadily downhill from there. First off, the bathroom was out of order due to a water main break and there were no other facilities other than stores/restaurants in the area. When the train finally arrived, we were disappointed in the quality of the seating in the first class car. We were in the McMillan car and unfortunately had a table for two on the wrong side of the train. Turns out we couldn't see anything but rocks & tress from our window. The people on the river side had the better view, but even that was pretty much just the river and after 4 hours that can get old. To add to the "charm" our server was a gal named Lynn who seemed irritated from the start. We were later informed that she was one of the company's best, which made us wonder how bad it could actually get. Now add to the story the fact that the generator on the train was out, so the cars were stifling hot and we were unable to get drinks and weren't even sure if we'd get our meal! Luckily, they got it fixed about an hour or so into the trip, but even then it was a fight to get drinks, which we were promised would be kept constantly filled as part of our first class experience. The lunch when it was served was actually pretty good and probably the highlight of the trip. The rest of the trip seemed like jail time and all we could do was wait to get out. There was also an hour layover that we weren't aware of - I'm sure it was advertised somewhere, but we weren't the only ones surprised by the stop. Not much to be at the stop other than be glad we were off the train! We expected much more charm and thought there would be some narration about the trip and what we were seeing (which wasn't much). We expected beautiful views, but were pretty much stuck in the side of the mountain with not much to see other than rocks, trees & weeds. For the almost $200 we paid for this adventure, it was definitely a let down and something we would not recommend or do again. If I were stuck on this train again, I would definitely choose the open air car on a nice day.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

991 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Jacksonville, Florida
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Average yet pricey "event"”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2013

About $70 per person for the better "crown" seats. Really we were still very crowded (book seats opposite as opposed to next to who youre traveling with because your knees will be knocking up against whoever sits opposite you). We were able to move to an empty car because this mid-week trip in Nov wasnt very crowded. Regardless, 1hr15min slow trip out to Dillsboro and back. Ok views, some very nice - most just whatever. We were expecting more spectacular views. And in Dillsboro looked forward to having lunch, visiting shops. Shops were creative, country shops...a bit pricey but interesting nonetheless. The Smokehouse was a bit of a disappointment. In any event, snoozed on the way back home. Kids I can see enjoying the train, but for adults not work the $$$.

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kissimmee, Florida
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Not Dazzling”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2013

We were really excited for our trip on the railroad, not so excited about the cost of admission which is very steep for the experience. We chose the more economical open air cars - we were more in it for the natural beauty than dining cars. It was the first week of October so we knew it would not be peak leaf season yet, but there was some stunning color as we got closer to Bryson. Unfortunately, the trip it self was pretty dull. The landscape was not very dynamic and there was almost no color. There was also extremely limited narration or "story". For a trip of that length an investment in a more rich backdrop of stories would make it more engaging. We took the Nantahala Gorge trip which was the only one available at that particular time. The stop at the gorge was fine and enjoyed watching some of the kayakers practice. Overall, it was a bit lackluster. Oh, and despite the posted signs for "no coolers" we saw a number of people carry them right on the train with their packed lunch.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Top Contributor
214 reviews 214 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
142 helpful votes 142 helpful votes
“Relaxing and scenic trip”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2013

Being train buffs, we couldn't resist the GSMR on our trip to the National Park. Also being fans of all things Art Deco, we had no choice but to book the first-class Silver Meteor. The only trip available the day we went was the Tuckasegee River Excursion, which may not be quite as scenic as the Nantahala Gorge, but it does include a stop in the quaint (if touristy) Dillsboro.

First-class passengers have the run of the train, so after the excellent, if early, lunch, we spent some time in the fabulously restored club car and passed through the bar car with its evocative tiled counter and the second-class dining car; we were as thrilled with the train as with the scenery, including the marble sink and counter and bronze fittings in the first-class restroom.

Dillsboro is the expected mix of historic, craftsy, and touristy. I found the perfect pair of earrings and our friend from England was thrilled with the "authentic American" souvenirs.

We returned to the train to find huge slabs of chocolate fudge mousse cake at each place; a bit more than I cared for, but most people devoured it. And, of course, coffee was available to wash it down.

As first-class passengers, we did receive a free travel mug that we could refill with any non-alcoholic beverage of our choice throughout the entire ride, and a free souvenir tote bag. As noted by some other reviewers, they do spend a good 15 minutes hawking the book and CD, and push it at every other opportunity. I might have been more inclined to purchase it if there were a discount for first-class passengers; I'd gladly have swapped the tote bag for a discount on the book.

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Fall Foilage Up-Close”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2013

We chose 1st class tickets because we were celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary so we booked 2 months in advance and chose a late October trip thru the Nantahala-Gorge for the fall foliage. The clerk who booked our trip also took our meal order making things very smooth indeed. The MacNeill car offers cocktails but we chose not to imbibe. Our daughter and I chose the salmon which was delicious and more than we could eat. My wife enjoyed the roast beef tips in mushroom gravy. Hanna took great care of us all. She made jokes and waited on each table joyfully. She joked, “You can call me anything as long as you don’t call me Hanna Montana.” There were two guys playing bluegrass on mandolin and banjo who took requests. Pretty soon we were all participating in a sing-along! The trip was uneventful in air conditioned comfort and we want to go back already.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Great Smoky Mountain Railroad also viewed

Bryson City, North Carolina Smoky Mountains
Bryson City, North Carolina Smoky Mountains
Bryson City, North Carolina Smoky Mountains
Bryson City, North Carolina Smoky Mountains

Been to Great Smoky Mountain Railroad? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.