Roaring Camps Railway is a wonderful day trip the whole family will enjoy from grandparents to little ones. If you are in the Santa Cruz Area put this amazing train on the top of your to-do list.
The Roaring Camp’s collection of steam engines is among the oldest and most accurately preserved regularly scheduled passenger service trains in America. In 1988, The ASME designated three of the engines in use as historical landmarks.
The railroad’s pair of Shay locomotives handles regular service, with an appearance by a Heisler. “Kahuku,” the oldest in use, provides shuttle service for special events and occasions, but due to size, it’s not capable of hauling trains up the mountain.
Roaring Camp offers two different tours to suit your tastes. The Roaring Camp & Big Trees is a steam-powered narrow gauge line using Shay and Heisler locomotives.
Starting at the Roaring Camp depot in Felton, California, the line runs up steep winding grades through the redwood forest to the top of nearby Bear Mountain.
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At an estimated 9.5 percent grade, it’s the steepest passenger grade still in use. The trail is the southernmost remaining portion of the old Southern Pacific line. It’s an hour-long ride that travels about 2.5 miles.
The second tour is on the Beach Trains. This line travels through Cowell Redwoods State Park, down the scenic San Lorenzo River Gorge, then across a steel truss bridge built in 1909 and on through an original tunnel, before arriving at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It travels nearly the same route established in 1875.
Keeping with its original purpose, the railroad carries tourists on the seasonal beach trains, as well as freight to the San Lorenzo Lumber Co. If plan to take this trip there are plenty of Santa Cruz hotels within an easy drive of the train.
Special Events Roaring Camp Railway
Special events are held several times a year with funds used for repair and restoration of the locomotives at Roaring Camp. In 2003, the first “Day out with Thomas” event was held. The event was the largest in the 40-year history of Roaring Camp with an estimated 25,000 supporters over three days.
During the summer, the romantic Santa Cruz Starlight Evenings allows you and that special someone to enjoy the beauty of a redwood forest lit up at night while traveling under the stars.
Evening trains depart for a two-hour round-trip excursion along the San Lorenzo River Gorge and returns to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. Advance purchase is recommended. The annual Summer Gathering of Mountain Men takes mid-August. Wander through the recreated 1830’s wilderness encampments of trappers and traders.
Moonlight Steam Train Dinner Party offers a barbecue dinner, live country music, and a train ride by flashlight, culminating with a mountain bonfire and sing-along on August, September, and October
Getting to Roaring Camps Railway Santa Cruz
For those traveling longer than day trip distance lodging and dining at various rates are available throughout the areas of Monterey County, Santa Clara, and in nearby Santa Cruz.
Roaring Camp is located six miles north of Santa Cruz, which is a 6 -hour from Los Angeles, and 1.5-hour drive from San Francisco.
There are plenty of nearby attractions including the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, making this trip perfect for the whole family.
Roaring Camps Railway: 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton, CA 95018. Phone: (831) 335-4484