Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad: Tips for a Fun Ride

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Riding the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad is a must-do with kids. Tons of children go through a phase where they are obsessed with trains and riding on a real one is a thrill! Here are my tips for a fun day on this Boone IA railroad.

Young boy standing by a train.

What You’ll Find at the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad

My three year old son loves trains, so we took him up to the Boone railroad for an afternoon.  The BSVRR has a great gift shop that my son loved. It was a very nice collection of train things which are sometimes hard to find. It’s the perfect place to find gifts for the train-lover in your life!

They also have a train museum. My husband and I took turns supervising our son at the train table in the museum while we pursued the exhibits. We both learned something new! 

How Long is the Boone Scenic Train Ride?

The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad offers many different train rides. Be sure to check their schedule online before you go. 

We chose the 1:30 basic excursion for our ride which was a 90 minute ride in a historic coach car that was pulled by a real steam engine. Our route took us from Boone over the Bass Creek High Bridge, over the Des Moines River and then along Squaw Creek to the mining town of Fraser.

The BSVRR also hosts several special events throughout the year. You can enjoy a “Day Out with Thomas” where you can ride on a train pulled by Thomas the Tank Engine. This is a good choice for younger kids because it is pretty short – and because kids love Thomas! 

Boy and girl standing in front of Thomas the Tank Engine train.

They also run a Polar Express train in December where you can wear your PJ’s and drink hot chocolate. I am looking forward to going back sometime in the fall so I can see the beautiful foliage in the Des Moines river valley.

Riding the Boone Scenic Railroad with Kids

Here are some of my tips for a great day on the BSVRR:

Pack snacks or activities. 
The train ride is 90 minutes and that can be a long time for a small child. Be sure and bring snacks and drinks (they are allowed) or you can get something from the snack car. 

I brought along small notebooks and crayons for my son to play with but I would be nervous with small toys as we sat in an open air car with no windows!

Girl leaning out the window of an open-air train car.

Arrive early.
In order to load the train, you need to arrive at least 30 minutes early so you can find your seats and get settled before the train pulls out. They also can sell out of tickets before the ride so to be safe it is good to order your tickets before you arrive. You purchase tickets easily online or by calling on the phone.

Ask questions.
Our train conductor was very knowledgeable and walked through our car several times to talk to us. He especially seemed to like all the kids so if you have any curious questions – ask away!

Overall, we had a great afternoon in Boone. It is a great town that is only a short drive from Des Moines.  I hope you can take a ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad soon!


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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