Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad

Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad

Scenic Railroads
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.0
246 reviews
Excellent
110
Very good
70
Average
42
Poor
17
Terrible
7

Mary B
6 contributions
Jun 2022 • Couples
I give 1 star bc we drove 3 hrs only to find out the steam engine is not working & requires repair & we found nothing on the website stating that.

We at first thought shoot but hey it happens. However bc we had nothing else to do we went downtown and walked around & had lunch. We were told by locals its been "in repair" for a long time & they need to address it.
Written 13 July 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

747MusicMaker
Unadilla, Nebraska, United States98 contributions
Jul 2022
The lady in the gift shop was very kind and helpful. The PicnicTrain ride was disappointing. My husband and I were directed to sit in a compartment alone while all the other train passengers were in the dining area of the car together. They could see well on three sides and enjoy each other's company. We could only see tops of trees from a higher window on one side, and were isolated from the others. It proved to be quite expensive and disappointing because it had the potential for being much more enjoyable.
Written 12 July 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jason R
New Hampton, IA428 contributions
May 2022 • Family
The crew that runs the BVSR is about as nice and welcoming as it gets. They have a vast knowledge of trains, but they also have a great understanding of how to make you feel welcome and excited about the ride. We did the dinner cruise. It is catered, and is good. I had the beef tenderloin and it was quite tasty. There is a balcony on the back of the train where you can stand o it side and take in the views. That was a great spot! They have so many options for how to experience their rail line. Stop in and check it out!!!!
Written 15 May 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tm
1 contribution
Apr 2022
Honest review on the "Easter Train" ride. 1st and foremost, My girls are 2-1/2 and 7 years old. This is very much a child and family attraction, and we all know how much extra planning and time-scheduling revolves around our little ones bathroom breaks and eating schedules before they loose their batters (Or minds...) They have it listed as "Approximately 1 hour" from 10am-11am, and it lasted almost 2 hours... Which was super inconvenient and a long ride with small kids. We didn't think we needed to bring food or snacks for the kids thinking it would be short & sweet, and done by 11 NOT well into lunch time. Because of this, everyone (Not just us) was very ready to be done. Crying/screaming, hungry, 'pee pants' kids everywhere. Not to mention we had a 7 year old B-day party over an hour away in Des. Moines to get to after, and the additional hour trapped on the train made us late for that too. SOOOO, outside of the scheduling inconvenience, if it DID go for the 1 hour, I was still under-impressed.
There was nothing really scenic to it... They're in desperate need of some tree management to open up some views. We had a young (14 year old maybe?) "trolley attendant" who was super cute and brave, she took it from 1 start to 2 starts.. She told some Easter jokes and did some trivia for about 15 min of the almost 2 hours, but for the price tag, I'd have thought we'd have someone pointing out neat/interesting stuff along the way for the kids to spot, (Or the railroad could have set out their own fun props along the way to entice the kids...) Instead it was just a quiet ride through a wooded area viewing trees after trees after trees, with the occasional trash and broke down car/train cars, but the majority of the ride was dead trees/tall trees that were higher than the train and blocked any (Would be) beautiful views... (Except for the 1 bridge over the river...) My kids and I did play "I spy when we were sitting stopped for a half hour, our choices out the window were a tree, a rock, or an empty Gatorade bottle... haha. It has so much potential to be fun & interesting... And it was a big let down. So how they run it today, I wouldn't waste your time or money... (And it wasn't a cheap adventure with a family of 4-6...)

My Advice:
- Everyone's there to look out the windows and have a good train ride experience, so more focus on finding ways to keep the kids entertainment and interested outside. If you're not going to talk and guide us all through anything going on outside the train, then maybe put up some props, along the way and doing a "BINGO" or 'find it hunt' type game of things to try and spot for the kids.
- Instead of dead air silence, play some music (Or again, BINGO or something) if you're stopped for 30min like we were. It's a big task to keep a 2 year old content to sit still and be quiet/mind for that long...

Those are my top 2 cheap and easy things that would have made it 10x more enjoyable for everyone
Written 15 April 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Gary T
Le Mars1 contribution
Dec 2021
There certainly could be a more festive look, on the train and at the North Pole. Some suggestions would be Christmas music on the train. The story be read from the front of the car. Instead of chocolate milk, hot cocoa. Or a chocolate cocoa packet in the cup. Of course you can't control the scenery but if you are going to stop at the North Pole for 30 minutes or more it would be fun if the Christmas decor was more professional. We drove 3 hours to ride the train and were very disappointed in the lack of festiveness.
My grandkids were bored on this train.
Written 13 December 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

saiza
Lees Summit423 contributions
Sep 2021 • Friends
We went specifically for the Day Out With Thomas event, we drove from Kansas City. It’s a small place, but we were able to park in the parking lot. They seemed well organized, they had a cute little museum that was interesting. They had different tents set up for kids activities and a pop up gift shop. They even had a tent for a band playing or a magic show. For the actual Thomas train ride, it said masks were required but half the train wasn’t wearing them. The train literally went 10 mins down the track and reversed back. It was $25/person maybe so I’m not mad that my 5 yr old got to ride “Thomas”. They also had an old “trolley” to ride, which can take you to the main drag and you can catch a ride back to the museum later.

It was a fun day for us and if we lived closer we’d go back.
Written 24 September 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

veryuniquetraveler
NEBRASKA552 contributions
Sep 2021
To start, make sure you allow plenty of time to arrive. We had to wait 20 minutes for a train to pass just to get to the depot, which is only a block off the main track. We thought we would need a lot of time to tour the museum which was ticking away as we waited for a VERY slow train to pass. Turned out, you only need about 15 minutes to see the exhibits in the museum. It was a let down. Had I known, I would have stayed at the Mamie Eisenhower birthplace longer and viewed more of their exhibits which were much more interesting.
They seem to be short staffed. Upon arrival no one was manning the ticket counter even though it was less than 1/2 an hour to boarding time. We didn't board until it was almost time for the train to depart as at least one employee did not show up for work and everyone was scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. Signs are everywhere that masks are required, yet employee came out and yelled boarding instructions across the room maskless. We had to walk down the platform to board the train as they were too concerned about preparing for the upcoming Day out with Thomas event to pull the dinner train to the depot, therefore, inconveniencing the dinner passengers. We must not have been as important as the Thomas passengers.
Thankfully, I noticed before we left home that you are allowed to bring a bottle of wine onboard for a fee as they do not sell alcohol. Are you kidding me???? Had I realized this I don't think I would have booked the excursion. I've never heard of a dinner experience where no alcohol was available. At the very least, each person should have been able to bring a bottle, not each couple. You are out of alcohol half way through the trip. Special occasion????? Without alcohol, not in my opinion.
Upon boarding our wine was not at our table while we noticed that other passengers did have their wine. The waitress came by to take drink orders and we told her we had brought a bottle of wine but it wasn't here. The train was already taking off. She scrambled and found it in another car. I was VERY worried it had been left in the depot. Was also disappointed that they did not provide an ice bucket to keep your wine chilled. Servers were friendly and pleasant. Salads and chips & dip were waiting on your table when we boarded, but it took at least 15 minutes to get any drinks, so you couldn't start eating. Appetizers were tasty. The meat was OK, but didn't really have any seasoning, so it could have been better. It would have been nice to have had more mushrooms. Potatoes were good but green beans were inedible. Cheesecake dessert was delicious. It was light and fluffy, not dense as some tend to be.
I was pleased with the seating layout which provided ample distancing. Wait staff wore masks and gloves. However, most of the passengers did not put their masks on when walking about the train. There was a small balcony on the back car of the train. Overall, I was disappointed that the dining cars were not elegantly decorated as I expected. They were plain and of moderate standard not what I'd call first class.
Most disappointing was that the train did not complete the entire route. Apparently there was some damage to the track and a downed tree ( which we heard from another passenger, not told by the staff ), so you only got to travel about 2/3 of the route. It would have been nice if they would have told you this beforehand. Instead of heading back they just sat there on the track and waited out the additional time the ride would have taken. So, you're just sitting there in the same spot for nearly 1/2 an hour with no alcohol. They should have just returned to the depot. They should have told you in advance that you weren't going to get the full ride.
Some of the scenery was rather nice, but we didn't get to see it all. Enjoyed the ravine and river view and always nice to be surrounded by trees. Overall, nothing special.
Written 10 September 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Maps801811
13 contributions
Aug 2021
Some friends and I were really looking forward to this but were very disappointed. There isn't much of a scenic view at all, just trees. Their web site has a nice picture of an old bridge but the train track is straight so you never see the bridge and only know you're on it when the view of trees gets lower. We also went on a Saturday just so we could also take a trolley ride around Boone but the trolley is just a small rail car that sits on the track and only travels a small distance in the opposite direction of the train.
Written 30 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Antrell K
Davenport, IA1 contribution
Aug 2021 • Friends
Wow, the train does a lot of rockin back and forth. You will need sea legs.

There is one bathroom in each passenger car.

The passengers cars are a comfortable temperature, it is 80 degrees outside in mid august, but inside, we were comfortable.

The train stops at the scenic bridge and the train blows the whistle so you know when to go view.

You will go by a YMCA camp and over the Des Moines river a couple times

You also ride by some cornfields and soybean fields.

The food is catered by hyvee, not spectacular. Actually, is was pretty bad.

Train ride, 4 stars
Scenery, 3 stars
Food, 1 star
Written 17 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jill H
Orange City, IA6 contributions
Jul 2021
The train ride was fun. The announcer was hard to understand, but the pre-recorded announcements were good. The museum has some interesting exhibits.
Written 11 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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