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Hop on These 12 Train Tours to See Stunning Fall Foliage

From Maine to Oregon, trains take you to hidden color sanctuaries

spinner image fall foliage surrounding the mount washington cog railway in new hampshire
The Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire takes you to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington.
Mount Washington Cog Railway

Cooler weather brings autumn colors galore. And one of the most popular fall pastimes is to take a trip to view the changing leaves.

While New England grabs the most attention, you’ll find plenty of other festive foliage shows around the country.

Make the most of the short leaf-turning season by ditching your car to ride the rails — from Maine to Arkansas to Oregon — to see fall colors in hidden areas not easily accessible otherwise.

You’ll find fall foliage train tours and other special excursions in many states. We’ve assembled some of the best options for a day trip or weekend getaway. Check the Farmers’ Almanac for dates of peak foliage nationwide.

New England

spinner image a biodiesel locomotive driving through a yellow autumn forest on the mount washington cog railway
The train ride is a three-hour round trip on a biodiesel locomotive.
Mount Washington Cog Railway

Train: Mount Washington Cog Railway, Mount Washington, New Hampshire

When: Through Oct. 15; trains go partway to the summit through Oct. 29

Known as one of New England’s best fall train rides, the route from Marshfield Base Station to Mount Washington’s 6,288-foot summit provides stunning views of the highest peak in the Northeast.

Tourists have been riding “The Cog” since 1869 to see fall colors and experience hair-rising climbs and descents on grades averaging 25 percent. The round trip takes three hours on a biodiesel locomotive (adults $86) or steam train ($99). Don’t forget to snap a photo at the famous Mount Washington Summit sign.

Train: Railroad Museum of New England’s Naugatuck Railroad, Thomaston, Connecticut

When: Oct. 6, 13, 20

The Naugatuck Railroad’s 20-mile, 80-minute Autumn Colors Limited train ride travels through some of the best fall foliage in northwestern Connecticut. The railway follows the Naugatuck River and crosses the 142-foot-high Thomaston Dam. Tickets start at $19 for adults and $18 for people age 65-plus.

Over two weekends, Oct. 14-15 and Oct. 21-22, there’s an 80-minute Pumpkin Patch Express, which stops at a pumpkin field. Tickets start at $22 for adults, $20 for those 65-plus.

Train: Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad, Unity, Maine

When: Sept. 16, 17, 27, 30 and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 1-18

Fall may be the best time to visit Maine, when the birch, maple, oak and elm trees turn brilliant yellow, orange and red. The Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad offers three train tours to view those colors. Its one-hour Fall Foliage Train Ride costs $20 for adults. A 90-minute extended fall tour (adults $33), which is offered on only three dates, travels along Unity Pond and through woods and bogs. An up to 90-minute Pumpkin Express (adults $25) operates only Oct. 21-22.

Upper Midwest

spinner image passengers sitting in an open-air car on the lake superior and mississippi railroad
Passengers seated in a Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad open-air car may see deer, eagles, loons and other wildlife in Minnesota.
Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad

Train: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad, Duluth, Minnesota

When: Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 15

Fall colors abound on this nonprofit, volunteer-run railroad’s Duluth River Train, which resumed service this summer after closing in 2020 for the pandemic and cleanup of a nearby U.S. Steel Superfund site.

The 13-mile round-trip train ride travels through woods and over Mud Lake Causeway. Passengers seated in 100-year-old coaches or an open-air car may see deer, eagles, loons and other wildlife. Adult tickets cost $20, but it’s free for active military and veterans on Sundays.

Train: Black Hills Central Railroad’s 1880 Train, Hill City and Keystone, South Dakota

When: Through Oct. 15

Black Hills Central Railroad offers two rides on a refurbished vintage steam train to view the golden leaves of birch and aspen trees mixed with pine and spruce in western South Dakota. Passengers also can see mountains, rock formations and historic structures as the train travels through national forest land and along old mining routes.

The standard narrated trip (adults $39) between Hill City and Keystone takes 135 minutes. An Oktoberfest train ride ($69), with beer, food and entertainment, will run Sept. 30.

Train: Coopersville and Marne Railway, Coopersville, Michigan

When: Weekends, Sept. 30-Oct. 29

Take the slow route and bring the grandchildren on a vintage train to see the fall colors and pick a pumpkin in western Michigan. The 14-mile, 90-minute round-trip Coopersville and Marne Railway’s family-friendly Pumpkin Train passes creeks, fields and farms at about 10 mph.

The volunteer-run train features renovated coaches from the 1920s, including one converted for accessibility. The movie Biloxi Blues featured coaches No. 1 and 2, says Andrea Ott, a volunteer with Friends of the Coopersville and Marne Railway. Assigned seats cost $35 to $45 for adults. One person can pay $65 to ride in the locomotive jump seat.  

The South

spinner image the blue ridge scenic railway in the fall through the chattahoochee national forest
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway trip through Georgia travels through the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Rachal Gray

Train: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Blue Ridge, Georgia

When: Thursdays-Mondays, Sept. 21-Nov. 6

On this railway’s fall foliage tours in Appalachia, hosts narrate the local history in open-air cars or interior coaches as the train travels along the winding Toccoa River, through rolling hills and the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Choose a two-hour train ride or four-hour trip that includes a two-hour stop in the twin towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. Adult tickets cost $54.99 to $66.99, or $51.99 to $61.99 if you’re 65-plus. Premier pricing on the four-hour trip is $104.99 for adults and $99.99 for those 65-plus. Premier isn’t available on the two-hour ride.

Train: Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, Springdale and Van Buren, Arkansas

When: Various days, Oct. 13-Nov. 18

Red and orange leaves abound on fall train rides through the Boston Mountains, the highest in the Ozarks in northwestern Arkansas. Ride in comfort in a refurbished 1920s coach, a 1950s café-style or parlor car, or a 1940s Silver Feather glass-domed car as conductors narrate the journey over a 125-foot trestle and through the 1,700-foot Winslow Tunnel.

For the most bang for your buck, take the eight-hour, 134-mile trip from Springdale to Van Buren, which includes a three-hour stop in the quaint town of Van Buren (adults $80 to $114). Older adults, veterans, and AAA and AARP members get a 10 percent discount. There are other train rides, too.

Train: Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, Durbin and Cass, West Virginia

When: Various days through Oct. 29

All four of this railroad’s fall excursions offer fantastic foliage. The Bald Knob Trip, Whittaker Trip, New Tygart Flyer and Greenbrier Express, which is a new route, range from 2½ hours to six hours. Adult tickets cost $59 to $89, less for people age 65-plus and veterans.

The 8-mile, two-hour-plus Whittaker round-trip train climbs 10 percent grades up Cheat Mountain and zigzags through two of the nation’s few remaining rail switchbacks, including the highest non-cog railroad east of the Rocky Mountains.



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The West

spinner image the historic georgetown loop railroad in colorado
The Georgetown Loop Railroad in Colorado travels on a 3-foot narrow gauge railroad built in 1884.
Efrain Padro / Alamy Stock Photo

Train: Georgetown Loop Railroad, Georgetown, Colorado

When: Various days through Oct. 29

Colorado is famous for its aspens. The Georgetown Loop Railroad’s Fall Colors Train and two other options let you see the trees in their bright yellow glory. Trains travel on a 3-foot narrow gauge railroad built in 1884.

On certain October dates, it offers the Autumnfest Train ($179 for a four-person table, with beer samples from a local brewery), and the Pumpkinfest Train. The Fall Colors and Pumpkinfest trains cost $36 per adult. People age 65-plus get a $2 discount but must call 888-456-6777.

Train: Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, Elbe, Washington

When: September and October weekends

The Pacific Northwest has colors, too. The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad is resuming regular steam excursions this fall for the first time since 2019. The 75-minute, 12-mile round-trip train (adults $33) travels through mountains, farmland and forest between Elbe, about 90 minutes south of Seattle, and Mineral. You might even see deer or elk.

Train: Oregon Scenic Coastal Railroad, Wheeler, Oregon

When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 29-Nov. 12

This railroad offers the unique experience of seeing fall colors along the Pacific Ocean on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, less than two hours from Portland. Choose open, covered and historic train cars for the 90-minute round-trip train ride. The Fall Splendor Excursion costs $28 per adult or $23 for passengers 55-plus and veterans.