A Short Trip from Cary: Autumn Train Rides

excursion crossing

Spencer, NC — You can buy tickets now to take a beautiful, day-long train ride on a vintage rail car through the colorful fall countrysides of Asheville and Charlottesville.

“The Romance of Rail Travel”

In its ninth year of doing so, the N.C. Transportation Museum is offering its most popular event – Autumn Train Excursions. This beloved event offers riders a chance to experience “the romance of rail travel,” a great destination and the convenience of a day trip.

As part of the Autumn Train Excursions, nearly 1,000 riders will take a rare, daylight train trip on vintage rail cars through beautiful countrysides to Asheville, NC and Charlottesville, VA. Excursions are presented by the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum and act as fundraisers for both organizations.

Trips sell-out, we hear, so act quickly if you’re interested.

Pick Your Adventure

Riders can pick from one of two trips.

Blue Ridge Autumn Special

The Blue Ridge Autumn Special will travel through the western North Carolina Piedmont, into the foothills and on to the Blue Ridge Mountains. This train will depart from Spencer, NC (less than two hours from Cary) at 7 am on Saturday, October 31, 2015.

The train will roll through Statesville, Hickory, Morganton, Marion, Black Mountain and Swannanoa, climbing the famed “loops” of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the way. You’ll pass through several tunnels and by the Andrews Geyser before arriving in Asheville at noon.

Passengers will have nearly three hours for an outing at Biltmore Village, a planned community established in 1890s near the Biltmore Estate. Biltmore Village offers distinct shopping in boutiques, restaurants and walks along brick sidewalks that parallel tree-lined streets. All of this will be enjoyed alongside spectacular views of the North Carolina Mountains.

The train will depart Asheville at 3 pm and return to Spencer at 8 pm.

Virginia Autumn Special

The Virginia Autumn Special will depart Spencer, NC at  7 am on Sunday, November 1, 2015. There will be a second passenger pick-up at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 am, allowing for a more convenient boarding opportunity for those living in the Triad.

Passing through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, passengers will experience the Piedmont countryside and rolling hills of Central Virginia. Spectacular views of the Dan, Roanoke and James Rivers will also be seen as the train crosses above them.

At noon, this train will arrive in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Travelers will have nearly three hours to explore the historic downtown area and walk through the Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall, one of the most beautiful and successful pedestrian malls in the nation. There are boutiques, specialty wine, coffee and tea shops and more.

The train will depart Charlottesville around 3 pm, drop off Greensboro passengers shortly before 7 pm and arrive back in Spencer around 8 pm.

Ticket Information

Tourist Class tickets are $160/person. Tourist Class seating features the comfort and convenience of modern passenger cars. Two seats, with adjustable backs, are on each side of the center aisle, with a window at each row. The cars are climate controlled and have rest rooms. The Souvenir and Cafe cars are located near the Tourist Class section.

Boxed lunches and commemorative t-shirts are also available for purchase.


Information and photo from the N.C. Transportation Museum.

2 replies
  1. Paul Benson
    Paul Benson says:

    I live in Asheville, so I would have to drive to Spencer to catch a trip to Asheville, return to Spencer and drive back to Asheville. It would be nice to have a trail starting in Asheville!

  2. Lindsey Chester
    Lindsey Chester says:

    The tough part for me to understand is that these trains leave a place that is a 2 hour drive from Cary at 7am. So you would need to drive there the night before. And then it takes 5 hours from Spencer to get to Asheville. I can drive from Cary to Asheville in 5 hours. and eliminate the hassle of an overnight in Spencer and having to get up at the crack of dawn to board a 7am train….
    Now if they had a train leaving FROM Cary for this scenic trip, I’d be more apt to take it.

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