Fun for Kids on California’s Central Coast: Roaring Camp Railroad

Over spring break we took the kids to Felton for a history lesson and a ride on a 19th Century steam train through the redwoods at Roaring Camp Railroads. The only departure from December 1st through March 30th is at 12:30 pm, which worked great for us.  We got up late, had breakfast, then headed to the camp.

Riding a narrow-gauge steam train through the redwoods was a great adventure for our family.

It was a little rainy that day, so we took umbrellas and wore boots just in case. The weather was clear while we waited to board the train, so the kids explored the camp, chasing the ducks and posing for photos in the photo board stand-in. They also checked out the goods at the General Store, but decided not to buy any of the Thomas the Train themed souvenirs available since we still has some other fun places to visit. They were also excited to find that Smucker’s Uncrustables were available from the snack shop, so we bought two and boarded the train.

Banana slugs were the stars of the show as far as my kids were concerned.

A brief downpour soaked our feet a little as we waited in the covered train car to get underway, but for the most part the rain wasn’t a problem.  The kids loved watching the steam and hearing the chug of the engine as we moved up Bear Mountain.

They were fascinated by the maneuvering it took to wind our way up the grade, over the trestles and through the redwoods, but the best fun came when they began to spot the banana slugs on the trees and ground surrounding the tracks. They intended to go slug hunting at the top, but the conductor told us we couldn’t disembark because we were going right back down to beat the next wave of rain heading our way. The disappointment was palpable, but I promised we would hunt for slugs when we got back down. (Check back next Monday for details on the banana slug hunt!)

Roaring Camp Railroads is open year-round, although they are closed on Christmas Day. Schedules vary with the season. Redwood Forest Steam Train fares are $24 for adults, $17 for children (2-12) and free for children under 2 with parking $8 per vehicle for the camp. There is also a Santa Cruz Beach Train which is $26 for adults, $10 for children (2-12) and free for children under 2 with parking at the Boardwalk $12 per vehicle.

If you go, dress in layers, take food for the ducks and allow time to visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park next door.


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