Exploring the Beauty of our Local Landscape
Details of the Train
The Sacramento RiverTrain rail line spans 14 miles from West Sacramento to Woodland, through open farmland, over the Fremont Bridge, and through the Yolo County Wildlife Refuge. At a leisurely 10 to 15 miles per hour, the round trip can take as long as three hours, which gives us plenty of time for a cozy dinner, social wine or beer tasting event, or even an entertaining show. We hope you’ll find something new to try in an unexpected place.
Kids have an instinctive love for adventure, and we love to host them as much as they love to ride our trains. So we’ve crafted many of our experiences just for them, making memories each season with our smallest passengers. If you’re looking for new things to do with little ones, take them on a one-day vacation in their own hometown.
Life is all about the journey, not the destination, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
History of the Train
Launched in July 2005, the Sacramento RiverTrain is one of the nation’s newest dinner trains. Trips aboard our train feature food and entertainment while you roll through the countryside. While the RiverTrain is new, the equipment and railroad have a long history.
The Sacramento RiverTrain operates on the 14-mile “Woodland Branch” between Woodland and West Sacramento, CA. The Woodland Branch was constructed in 1911 by the Northern Electric Co. as the Sacramento and Woodland Railroad to link the fertile farmlands of Yolo County with the developing city of Sacramento. The Northern Electric was integrated into the Sacramento Northern Railway and the line was operated for transit and freight for many years. At its peak, the Woodland Branch offered eight roundtrip passenger trains daily from Woodland to Sacramento. The line was electrified by third rail, except in Woodland where overhead power was used.
In 1940 passenger operations came to an end with the advent of World War II. Powered now by diesel locomotives, the Sacramento Northern Railway continued to move a high volume of freight over the line up until the early 1960’s. Slowly, the various railspurs were torn up along the route and eventually only the industries in Woodland remained. Soon those started to disappear as well, until the Woodland Branch became a mere shadow of its former self. The Sacramento Northern was acquired by the Western Pacific Railroad which in turn was merged with the Union Pacific in 1984.
The Yolo Shortline Railroad Company was created in 1991 and purchased the Woodland Branch from the Union Pacific. The newly formed railroad was managed by its president and primary owner Dave Magaw. The Yolo Shortline was named after Yolo County in which it serves. ” Yolo” is an Indian name for the area. In addition to the Woodland Branch, the Yolo also purchased an 11-mile Clarksburg Branch between West Sacramento and Clarksburg . A portion of this line was originally developed around 1910 by the Oakland Antioch and Eastern Railway, which was an interurban railroad. It was later acquired by the Sacramento Northern Railway and extended to Oxford , CA in the 1920’s for freight hauling. In 1985, the portion of this line from Clarksburg to Oxford was abandoned and removed. The remainder stayed in service to an industrial customer in Clarksburg.
The Yolo Shortline is primarily a freight hauler and the primary products transported are agriculturally related. While some freight traffic is intra-state, most of Yolo Shortline’s freight traffic originates or terminates out-of-state. The railroad also managed rail traffic for the Port of Sacramento and McClellan Air Force Base. For several years, the Yolo Shortline operated an excursion train with trips on both the Woodland and Clarksburg Branches. Among other trips, the train had a popular Great Train Robbery with a big shoot ‘em up and picnic lunch by the Sacramento River.
In 2003 the Yolo Shortline merged with the Sierra Railroad Company under the Sierra name. Dave Magaw stayed with the merged company as Vice President. The Sierra Railroad was a railroad similar in size to the Yolo and located 70 miles south in Oakdale , CA . In addition to freight, the Sierra operates the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train. Later that year, the merged railroad was selected to save and reopen the famous Skunk Train on the North Coast . Now with the support of two sister tourist trains — the Skunk and the Sierra — it was decided to improve and expand the Yolo excursion train.
The excursion train is renamed the Sacramento RiverTrain and features three open-air cars and three enclosed air-conditioned coaches. Two of the coaches were from the previous train. The third coach was provided by the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train that sent one of its two high-level 80-seat dining cars. The Skunk Train provided three open-air cars with a curved roof, bench seating and patio bar. All six cars were painted with a sparkling gold exterior, reflecting the area’s rich Gold Rush heritage, and 1,000-feet of distinctive blue waves, a colorful tribute to the mighty Sacramento River that closely follows the train’s route. The new makeover is not just skin deep. Complementing the new look exterior, the Dining car, Passenger coach and Club car will have newly decorated interiors. The train offers a relaxed ‘ Plantation ’ style look, featuring plantation-style ceiling fans, comfortable rattan furniture, wood paneling, carpet, paint, interior and exterior lights, new windows, and an upgraded sound system.
After a long and storied history, we’re proud to continue to add new experiences to our repertoire each year while continually learning more and improving the experiences we’ve offered for years. Each ride on the Sacramento RiverTrain will bring you something new!
West Sacramento Boarding
Our boarding location is a ½ mile North of the West Sacramento IKEA shopping center. We board at 400 North Harbor Blvd., sharing a parking lot with a water facility.
400 N. Harbor Blvd
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Are the rides round-trip?
Yes! No matter where we board, your evening on the Sacramento RiverTrain will always end right back where it started.
Where are my tickets?
The Sacramento RiverTrain is a ticket-free operation. To board the train on your event date, all you’ll need to provide us is the last name of the person who purchased the reservations.
What happens if my date is cancelled?
Occasionally, due to circumstances beyond our control, we may be forced to cancel an event date. If this happens, we will contact you to make alternative arrangements. First, we’ll try to get you into the same experience on another trip date. If your schedule cannot accommodate another trip date, we will refund you your ticket purchase price.
Can I cancel or reschedule my trip?
Tickets and fees are nonrefundable. You may call to reschedule or receive a voucher for your trip up to 72 hours prior to departure. The number for our ticketing office is: (800) 866-1690.
Can I bring outside food or drinks onto the train?
No, in keeping with health and safety regulations, we cannot allow outside food or drink on the train. We do have soft drinks, water, and snacks available at our concession and many trips have the option of purchasing light meals or snack boxes ahead of time.
Is the Sacramento RiverTrain affiliated with the Railroad Museum?
The Sacramento RiverTrain is a family-owned and operated business that is not affiliated with the California State Railroad museum. If you want to learn about trains and the history of California’s railroads, the California State Railroad Museum is the place to go. If you’re looking for a unique venue for a variety of memorable experiences, look no further than the Sacramento RiverTrain.
Does the Sacramento RiverTrain run any trips using steam-powered engines?
No. All of our trains are diesel-powered locomotives. If you want to see vintage trains in action, consider making a weekend trip to our sister railroad in Mendocino County, the Skunk Train.
Is the Sacramento RiverTrain dog-friendly?
We do allow up to five dogs on our Beer Train, Old Vine Express, Picnic Express, and RiverTrain Excursions. Dogs are only allowed in the open air cars only.
Are there restrooms available on the Sacramento RiverTrain?
Yes. The Sacramento RiverTrain has several small, airplane or bus-style restrooms available for guest use.
Is smoking allowed on the Sacramento RiverTrain?
No. Federal regulations and regional fire codes prohibit smoking, even in the outdoor cars.
Are discounts available for large groups?
Yes! Groups of 20 or more are eligible for discounted rates. Call our reservations office at 1 (800) 866-1690 to inquire about group events.
Can I host my child’s birthday party on the Sacramento RiverTrain?
Yes! Kid-friendly events are one of our specialties, and any of these can be a great way to spend your child’s birthday. Great Train Robberies, for example, are the most economical option for little Wild West enthusiasts. However, any trip can be a great celebration: from the Great Train Robbery to the Christmas Train, there is always something fun rolling down the tracks. Contact our group sales and special events manager to plan a great day, and secure special discounted pricing for parties of 20 or more — Call our reservations office at 1 (800) 866-1690 to inquire about group events.
Can I have a corporate event on the Sacramento RiverTrain?
Absolutely! Large company parties can schedule a special train trip to show employees appreciation, celebrate the holidays, or work on building up that team mentality. For smaller groups, consider reserving a private car for one of our already-scheduled trips. Call our reservations office at 1 (800) 866-1690 to inquire about group events.
Can I rent out the entire train?
Yes, private charters may be arranged, upon request, for any day of the week depending upon availability.
Is the Sacramento RiverTrain wheelchair accessible?
No, due to the historic nature of the train cars we are not wheelchair accessible. Please give us a call at 1.800.866.1690 to discuss further.
How many guests can the RiverTrain accommodate?
The train has a maximum capacity of 300 guests. The maximum capacity may vary based on the experience.