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All aboard for Yosemite: Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is among is top rated railways

By Sarah Linn, The Sacramento Bee
Published: June 8, 2024, 5:08am
2 Photos
Passengers board before the No. 15 Shay locomotive before departs for a Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad &ldquo;moonlight special&rdquo; excursion through the Sierra National Forest on June 6, 2019.
Passengers board before the No. 15 Shay locomotive before departs for a Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad “moonlight special” excursion through the Sierra National Forest on June 6, 2019. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee/TNS) (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee) Photo Gallery

Looking for the best way to explore Yosemite National Park? Try hopping aboard a steam locomotive.

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is among the railways offering the top 10 scenic train rides in the United States in 2024, according to USA Today readers.

The Yosemite railroad was No. 9 on the publication’s list, released in May.

It was one of two Northern California railroads ranked by USA Today readers. California Western Railroad, known as the Skunk Train, in Fort Bragg landed at No. 5.

“Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination,” USA Today said. “Such is the case for passengers who step aboard these 10 trains … offering beautiful scenery and memorable rides.”

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Run by the Stauffer family since the 1960s, Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad specializes in steam locomotive rides through the Sierra National Forest on old logging tracks.

In addition to daily one-hour train excursions, the railroad offers special trips and events including the Moonlight Special. The package features a barbecue dinner, a train ride and a campfire sing-a-long hosted by the Sugar Pine Singers.

“A host of specialty themed trains — like a jazz train, a Moonlight Melodrama train, and a Halloween train — make trips on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad a memorable experience,” USA Today said.

Trains depart from Fish Camp along Highway 41 in Mariposa County from April through November.

Top 10 scenic train rides in U.S.

These are the 10 best scenic train rides to take in the nation, according to USA Today:

1. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango, Colo.

2. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonito

3. Colorado East Broad Top Railroad in Rockhill Furnace

4. Pennsylvania Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, N.C.

5. Skunk Train in Fort Bragg

6. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge, Ga.

7. Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, Md.

8. Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs, Colo.

9. Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

10. Georgetown Loop Railroad in Georgetown, Colo.

How did USA Today come up with rankings?

To come up with USA Today’s Best 10 Readers’ Choice Awards for 2024, a panel of experts selected nominees across a number of categories.

The publication’s readers then voted for their favorites over four weeks.

USA Today ranked the best campgrounds for recreational vehicles, luxury RV resorts, national park lodges, vintage trailer hotels, roadside motels and glamping spots in the nation.

Gas stations, rental car companies and roadside attractions also got top 10 lists.

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