Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Enjoy a scenic train-ride between Utica and Lake Placid on the former New York Central Railroad line. Specials include the Beer & Wine Train and the Rail & Cruise at Old Forge Lake.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a 70-mile-long operation with ridership in excess of 70,000 passengers per year. It is one of the top tourist attractions in Oneida County and operates a wide variety of themed services. These include fall foliage trips, Halloween and Easter excursions, trips that connect with area tour boat tours with hikers and boaters along area rivers. In addition, there are beer and wine trains featuring live entertainment and local beverages, plus scheduled trains that bring thousands of tourists from Utica to the Adirondack village of Old Forge.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Polar Express Train in Utica NY.Far and away our most popular excursions are the seasonal Polar Express trains which are operated under license from Warner Brothers Entertainment. From mid-November to just prior to Christmas, these trains are sold out, carrying 600 plus riders per trip on a 2-hour ride to the “North Pole” and back.

In addition to regularly scheduled services, Adirondack Scenic Railroad operates a wide variety of charter trains, including business and golf outings, weddings (including the wedding of Olympic medalist Erin Hamlin), and even a ” wilderness special” for NBC Television featuring NBA star Shaquille O’Neil and survivalist Bear Grylls. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has become a significant economic driving force for tourism growth in the region, drawing riders from every state and from other countries, and will, of course, continue to do so.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad is located in Utica, NY with a ticket office in the magnificent Utica Union Station, a few feet from Amtrak’s Utica ticketing office. At the station, Adirondack Scenic Railroad shares waiting room space and facilities with Amtrak and our trains board contiguous to the Amtrak boarding platforms. In addition, the railroad operates and maintains a station and ticket office 58 miles to the north in Thendara, NY, adjacent to the village of Old Forge.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad is supported by a fleet of five locomotives and 18 passenger cars. All engineers and conductors (FRA-governed operating crews) are volunteers, as are many support staff both on the train and on the ground. All Mechanical Department employees and administrative staff are paid. Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s safety record is exemplary.

For the southernmost 29 miles of the operation, Adirondack Scenic Railroad is the tenant of Genesee Valley Transportation, a regional rail carrier, remitting user payments to them based upon train-miles. Northward, beyond that point, the rails are owned by New York State. New York State permits the use of the tracks and financially supports the maintenance and capital requirements of the track and right-of-way. New York State further assists the Adirondack Scenic Railroad with periodic grants to maintain, upgrade, and/or replace certain rolling stock

“It was great! Had a great time and the walk was a great addition to the train ride. We will definitely be going again and bringing the kids!”

—Emtsteen, TripAdvisor

Our offices are in Utica, NY with a ticket office in the magnificent Utica Union Station, a few feet from Amtrak’s Utica ticketing office. At the station, Adirondack Scenic Railroad shares waiting room space and facilities with Amtrak and our trains board contiguous to the Amtrak boarding platforms. In addition, the railroad operates and maintains a station and ticket office 58 miles to the north in Thendara, NY, adjacent to the village of Old Forge.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad is supported by a fleet of five locomotives and 18 passenger cars. All engineers and conductors (FRA-governed operating crews) are volunteers, as are many support staff both on the train and on the ground. All Mechanical Department employees and administrative staff are paid. Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s safety record is exemplary.

For the southernmost 29 miles of the operation, Adirondack Scenic Railroad is the tenant of Genesee Valley Transportation, a regional rail carrier, remitting user payments to them based upon train-miles. Northward, beyond that point, the rails are owned by New York State. New York State permits the use of the tracks and financially supports the maintenance and capital requirements of the track and right-of-way. New York State further assists the Adirondack Scenic Railroad with periodic grants to maintain, upgrade, and/or replace certain rolling stock

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Dome Car in Utica, NY.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad fully-restored dome car. | Photo Courtesy of Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Dining Car donated by Amtrak.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad dining car donated by Amtrak. | Photo Courtesy of Adirondack Scenic Railroad

In order to maintain high standards, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad has accumulated the financial resources, including a grant from The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, to construct a new maintenance facility adjacent to the railyard in Utica. Groundbreaking will happen sometime this spring, with completion anticipated by year’s end.

In addition, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is poised for new railroad experiences with the acquisition of new rolling stock. A dome car and a dining car are the most recent additions to the Railroad’s rolling stock! The vintage dome car was built in 1955 for the Union Pacific Railroad. Fully restored before delivery to Utica, there are eight dining tables, each seating four people, in the dome area. The dining car, built-in 1948 for the New York Central RR, seats 48 persons at 12 tables. Formerly an Amtrak car—as of four years ago, the functional kitchen is complete.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad acquired the dome car through the use of generous grants, while the dining car was donated by Amtrak. These cars are planned to be in service beginning this summer. Along with regular trips, both cars will also be available for charter use. These two historic cars will add a whole new dimension to Adirondack Scenic Railroad train trips.

History of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad

The New York Central Railroad opened Utica’s Union Station in 1914, the third station to stand on the same site. Previously, the Utica & Schenectady Railroad built Utica’s first railroad station in 1836 and with the completion of the Syracuse & Utica line, it soon became a way station on the route west. This line soon combined with others to eventually form the New York Central in 1853. Until this point, passengers had largely only been traveling westward on the line, however, when the Black River & Utica Railroad began running trains north, Utica became a transfer point for tourists heading towards the Adirondacks. This same line is still in existence today, now operation as Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern and serving Adirondack Scenic Railroad trains as far north as Remsen.

This volunteer-based organization, collectively donating approximately 300,000 hours to protect historic railway and enrich the Adirondack experience for visitors and residents of the region. They have helped this railroad to grow from a four-mile excursion in the Old Forge area to a business that carried over 74,000 passengers annually on hundreds of trains in Utica, Thendara, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Their total ridership has surpassed 1,500,000 people.

Take Amtrak to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Enjoy a picturesque ride with Adirondack Scenic Railroad via Amtrak to Utica Station in Central New York. Don’t forget to use Amtrak’s See New York and Save 15% discount!

Looking to explore Utica after your scenic train ride? Get picked up from Utica Station and taken to your reserved NYTRAIN Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Click here to reserve your car or call the Hudson office today at 315-736-0002.

New York by Rail