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boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

Chicago, IL
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43 posts
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boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

We're travelling through Iowa this July and are looking for interesting things to do. I came across the Boone And Scenic Valley Railroad. We have three children, 9 mo, 7 and 10. Is this a worthwhile thing to do with children? I was thinking we might try and do the picnic train, maybe in the caboose if it's available. I welcome your advice, thank you!

Des Moines, Iowa
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1. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

I went for the first time last year and it was actually a fun trip. We did the picnic train. You get tickets for a specific train, but seats aren't assigned so get their early and you can pick where you want to be. I am not sure what kind of attention span your kids have, but it is a fairly long trip- 2 hours I think. The scenery is pretty and they stop at the bridges so you can take a look.

Good luck with your trip!

Chicago, IL
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2. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

Thanks so much for the info!

IOWA
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3. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

We just took the picnic train yesterday (Sunday). The picnic train consists of a diesel locomotive and two air conditioned cars, one with tables. You can start off in one of the cars eating your picnic food at the table and then goto the back of the train. The back end of the train has a car platform where you can stand (no seats) and watch the scenery in almost all directions. In my opinion this was better than taking the excursion train and opting for their Valley View car as it was cheaper and the ride was longer. You'll get to see the wildlife, such as deer, cross the track, and two faces carved into trees.

Our 2-hour picnic train turned into a 3 hour trip as we went down the line so far, then came back a little bit, before backing into a siding so the excursion train could pass and go to where we just were. After that you return to the station.

BTW, while the caboose sounds like a great idea, I wasn't impressed when I saw the excursion train pulling two of them (one for passengers?). I don't think the caboose gives you much of a view, even in the top, if they let you up there. Plus it may not be air conditioned. I'd definetly say in the summer, take the picnic train. It's air conditioned, and has a platform on the last car for some great views, espically when they cross the two bridges.

The excursion train is a bit cheaper per ticket, but uses un-airconditioned 1920's coach cars with crammed seating. You get the chance to ride the caboose or the valley view car with that train, but I no longer see the value in its cheaper ticket price.

Iowa
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4. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

We are planning to take the Desert train ride in July. Has anyone experienced this? I imagine this is in the airconditioned section as well.

IOWA
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5. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

People were asking the conductor(s) on the picnic train different questions and one of them mentioned the dessert train. He simplified it as the same train but they serve you cheese and crackers, stuff like that, etc. Hopefully you actually get more than that, like a real dessert.

One thing I forgot to mention. While I am really grateful that the Boone & Scenic Valley railroad is there and running trains like this, it's not as scenic as you might think. I wouldn't hesitate to go on another trip, it's just that there are good portions where all you can see is brush on either side. It's quite evident where the original railroad had to cut through some hills. The views from the bridges though are awesome and watching wildlife such as deer decide whether to cross the track is great.

You'll notice though that some of their equipment says "Scenic Valley" or such. The scenic part is actually part of the name of stuff they took over or bought, not necessarily that they are running a scenic railroad line. Can't wait to see what the views look like in the fall!

Chicago, IL
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6. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

Thank you IowaCorn and Bravo for your information! I think our kids could handle a 2-hour train ride, but a 3 hr would be pushing it. Does anyone know if it is normal for the ride to run more than 2 hours?

Des Moines, Iowa
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7. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

It is a little hit and miss as well. So it sometimes runs late and that can get annoying. I would say 2.5 hours is the norm.

Des Moines, Iowa
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8. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

You've probably already done this, but if not you might want to check out their website:

http://www.scenic-valleyrr.com/

Under the "rides" tab you'll get more information - the pictures for the dessert train show more than cheese & crackers.

My husband & I went on the excursion train last year - the very last day it was running - so the leaves were pretty much off the trees, but it was still a fun outing - would be gorgeous with the fall colors.

One thing to keep in mind with the caboose - there are no restroom facilities available in the caboose - might rule it out for traveling with kids!

9. Re: boone And Scenic Valley Railroad

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