FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long is the train ride? Who can ride on the train?
The steam train ride is a one-hour narrated excursion through the beautiful Sierra National Forest. The ride will travel over four miles on the historic Madera Sugar Pine Railroad. Enjoy a brief stopover in the Lewis Creek Canyon to see the locomotive up close, or explore the outdoors before your return trip to the station. The train is open to people of all ages, and friendly dogs ride free!
What are you going to see on the train?
You will travel along the historic right-of-way of the Madera Sugar Pine Railroad where mighty lumberjacks felled the timber and flumes carried the lumber to the town of Madera. The conductor will tell of the history of the line, the trees, and the wildlife native to the area.
How close is Yosemite National Park?
The railroad is located on Highway 41, just four miles from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, home of the Mariposa Big Trees, Glacier Point, Half Dome, and the many wonderful waterfalls including Yosemite Falls in the valley.
What can you tell me about the locomotives?
We operate two historic geared steam locomotives called Shays. Both locomotives were from the Westside Lumber Company in Tuolumne, California. These two locomotives represent the original shays that worked this line from 1874 to 1931. The original Madera Sugar Pine Shay locomotives burned wood for fuel, while our two Westside Shay locomotives burn oil. Shay #10 was built in 1928 and weighs in at 84 tons, while Shay #15 was built in 1913 and weighs 59 tons.
Why does the locomotive sometimes go backwards?
The historic shay locomotives operate the same speeds forward and backward. We have a loop in our excursion which turns the train around every trip. We do not have a turntable at the station, so our locomotives will sometimes be facing backwards.
Do I need to make reservations to ride the train?
To guarantee your reservation, please visit the tickets page to buy your tickets online at: www.yosemitesteamtrains.com. If you do not have internet access, for the daytime excursions, we suggest that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure to buy your tickets. Our Moonlight Special and Melodrama trains require a reservation, book it online or call our ticket office at 559/683-7273.
What is included in the Moonlight Special?
Your evening begins with a BBQ dinner with a choice of New York Steak, chicken, or a vegetarian substitution. The meal is complimented with a summer corn salad, ranch-style beans, sourdough dinner roll, and dessert. Complimentary juice, coffee, and water is offered. There is a bar with sodas, beer, and wine for an additional cost. You will then board the logger steam train for a ride to the campfire sing-a-long program hosted by the Sugar Pine Singers. At the conclusion of the evening, you will re-board the train for a memorable trip up the mountain in the night. The event lasts approximately three hours. Make your reservations now on our website or call our ticket office at 559/683-7273.
How often does the Jenny Railcar run?
The railcar schedule varies according to the steam train operation. Typically, the railcar will run an hour prior to the first departure of the day, starting at 9:30am. The railcar will run after the last steam train, depending on necessity.
What else is there to do at the railroad?
There is GOLD in the mountains! Our prospector will show you how to pan for gold and you keep the gold. We also have the Thornberry Museum with a glance of logging camp life at the turn of the century. At the station, we have cold drinks, sandwiches, hot dogs, along with delicious snacks and gift shop. Visit the bookstore for a collection of historical titles and railroad literature.
How far away is the railroad located from town?
What are your hours of operation?
Our schedule runs from March through October. Please look at the schedules page for our current times. We usually open at 9:30am and the first train is at 11am. Book your reservation now on our website!
I do not have a way to print my tickets from making a reservation online. Can I buy them at the station when I arrive?
You can buy your tickets at the station when you arrive, we suggest a 30 minute arrival prior to the scheduled daytime departure to purchase your tickets. However, if you purchase your tickets online, there is no need to print the tickets out, they will be waiting for you at the station when you arrive at the railroad ticket office. Moonlight Special tickets require a reservation, as those trains can sell out.
What is the weather going to be like?
While we cannot be sure on what the weather will be, here is the latest 7-day forecast from the National Weather Service specifically to the region where the railroad is located.
Where can I find a place to stay?