A Visitor’s Guide to the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Very few historically-significant experiences rival a lengthy trip aboard a long-preserved train, especially if it chugs through terrain as beautiful as the Appalachian Mountains. There’s never an offseason for the crowd-pleasing Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, a timeless North Georgia marvel that’s particularly enticing during autumn’s peak and in the days leading up to Christmas. Tourists from all across the South visit Blue Ridge, Georgia, specifically to climb aboard this wholly restored train. And there’s no better basecamp for a day of North Georgia exploration than Mountain Oasis, home to a beautiful collection of Blue Ridge cabin rentals.
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway itself is a 26-mile stretch of track that mostly follows the scenic Toccoa River en route to the Tennessee border. Passengers rarely spot anything but dense wilderness and curious wildlife as the Toccoa River snakes its way through the backcountry between State Routes 5 and 60. This is a particularly uninhabited stretch of the Appalachian Mountains (known to most as the North Georgia mountains), so it has become a magnet for nature photographers and birders alike.
Most regularly-scheduled train rides last four hours, including a two-hour layover at the border (as noted below). Although, they also offer specialty “express” trips that last only one hour, leaving ample time to explore the area elsewhere. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is arguably the area’s top tourist attraction around the holidays, as it transforms into a Polar Express-esque experience, complete with a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Christmas treats, caroling, and a stop at the “Santa Pavilion.”
A Layover on the Border: The “Copper Basin”
Each hour-long excursion begins at the historic Blue Ridge Depot and stops for two full hours in the sister towns of Copperhill, Tennessee, and McCaysville, Georgia, before, of course, its return journey. The layover allows passengers to explore these quintessential small towns. Both of which are chockful of quaint shops, top-notch eateries, and notable attractions. Most folks gravitate toward McCaysville’s Riverwalk Shops, home to Burra Burra on the River, Twisted Tomato, Blue Ridge Adventure Wear, Owl’s Nest, and The Pasta Market. The newly-updated McCaysville Visitor Center is also worth a walk-through, even if just for the local art. Meanwhile, in Copperhill, we typically direct visitors to Mountain Altitude Designs, Buck Bald Brewing, Copperhill Brewery, Yellowbird Coffee Shop, and Fat Raccoon Gallery. There’s something for every type of shopper and diner in these cozy towns, separated only by the Toccoa River and an invisible border.
Luxurious North Georgia Cabin Rentals
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway ranks among North Georgia’s most-visited attractions. Thus, please book tickets several months in advance if you’re able. And, of course, start and finish each day of adventure and relaxation inside one of Mountain Oasis’ prized North Georgia mountain cabins, such as Golden Oaks, Southern Grace, and Brown Trout Lodge. On-site luxuries may include private acreage, outdoor hot tubs, fire pits, fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens, wraparound decks, and cathedral ceilings.
To book a well-deserved wintertime escape to Blue Ridge or Ellijay, please check availability online (or call us directly at 844-306-2747).