Picnic Train

Click here to purchase Picnic Train tickets

Food service is not provided on this train. Instead, we encourage you to pack some of your favorite goodies, and enjoy the views as you pass through the beautiful Des Moines River Valley.

  • Climate controlled “City of San Francisco” and “City of Los Angeles” cars.
  • Crosses the 156′ tall Bass Point Creek High Bridge.
  • Crosses the Des Moines River near the Des Moines Y-Camp.

Schedule and Prices

  • Operates SUNDAYS ONLY (5/26/24-10/27/24)
    • N/A during Day Out With Thomas event
  • Adult $40 Child $15
    • Under age 3 free in lap
  • Departs at 12:30 PM
  • Arrives back in Boone at 2:45 PM
  • Prepaid reservations are required
  • Please arrive one hour before departure time

History of the equipment

City of San Francisco, 9044

Our “City of San Francisco” car was built as a ten roomette/six compartment sleeping car by Pullman Standard Works in June of 1950. It was part of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s pool of equipment used to provide daily service of the “City of San Francisco” train on the Chicago & North Western (later moving to the Milwaukee Road) between Chicago and Omaha. The train then moved over Union Pacific tracks to Ogden, Utah. Beyond Ogden, Utah, the train traveled over Southern Pacific’s own trackage to its destination terminal of Oakland, California. Passengers were then ferried across the bay to the ferry terminal building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Each of the three railroads owned and provided its share of cars to maintain a pool of equipment for the service. The original train consisted of two coaches, four sleeping cars (Pullmans), a mail-baggage, a baggage-dormitory, and a diner-lounge car.
Prior to its donation to the Iowa Railroad Historical Society by Mr. Henry Ketcher of North Little Rock, Arkansas, the car was converted into its current configuration, with all 10 roomettes removed to create a dining area. Two of the six compartments were removed to create a small kitchen-galley area. The remaining compartments are used as private dining areas. A large observation platform was also added to the rear of the car.

City of Los Angeles, 4810

In 1949, our “City of Los Angeles” car was built by American Car & Foundry. It was in the Union Pacific Railroad’s passenger service until 1971 (the year Amtrak was formed), when it became part of Union Pacific’s business car fleet, where it served until 1991. The Iowa Railroad Historical Society purchased the car in 2001.

FP9A, 6540

The locomotive usually powering this train, 6540, is a former Canadian National Railway FP9A. It was built by GMD Canada in 1958. After serving the CN, VIA Rail Canada utilized the locomotive in its passenger operations.

Frequently Asked Questions (Wolf Picnic Train)

Tickets and reservations for the Wolf Picnic Train

Q. Are reservations required?

A. Prepaid reservations are required. Reserve at bsvrr.com or by calling (515) 432-4249.

Q. Can I pay with cash when I get there?

A. Prepaid reservations are required. We accept Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. Reserve at bsvrr.com or by calling (515) 432-4249.

Q. How far ahead do I need to make reservations?

A. The sooner, the better. Generally, we recommend booking your trip a minimum one month in advance. For the months of September through November, we strongly recommend booking at least three months in advance.

Q. Is there a ticket processing fee?

Internet ticket orders incur a 12%, non-refundable handling fee. Phone orders incur a non-refundable handling fee of 25 cents per ticket.

Q. When will my credit card be charged?

A. Your credit card will be charged at the time you make your reservation.

Q. Will my tickets be mailed to me?

A. No. Train tickets are held at the depot ticket office, and are to be picked-up at the ticket window upon your arrival. You will receive a confirmation e-mail.

Q. What if I need to cancel my reservation?

A. Any changes or cancellations must be made a minimum of 7 business days prior to the day of your departure.

Q. Is seating assigned?

A. Picnic trains utilize assigned seating. You may be seated with another party. When reserving, indicate if you would like to be seated with a specific party. Picnic train passengers are seated at tables of up to four people. People on the same order/reservation are automatically seated together.

Q. Do I have to be seated with another party?

A. For those wishing a more intimate dining experience, a private compartment may be available ($50 fee). Only two compartments are available on any given train. Compartments must be reserved at the time you make your reservation.

Q. Is museum admission included?

A. Yes

Before you board the Wolf Picnic Train

Q. When do we need to arrive at the depot?

A. Plan to arrive one hour before departure time. Keep in mind that in excess of 60 freight trains pass through Boone on any given day. This frequently leads to travel delays for our customers. Your punctual arrival helps to ensure you won’t be caught on the wrong side of the tracks as your train departs our depot. Reservation or not, trains will not be held for late passengers.

Q. Is the picnic train ADA accessible?

A. Due to the age and the history of these cars, stairs, narrow hallways, and other limitations make them inaccessible to persons utilizing walkers, wheelchairs, motorized scooters, etc.

Q. May I bring wine?

A. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the Wolf Picnic Train.

Q. May I bring my pet on board?

A. No. Only service animals are allowed on our trains and in buildings.

Q. Will the steam engine be pulling our train?

A. No. All picnic trains are diesel powered.

Q. Are strollers or car seats allowed?

A. No. Stroller or car seat storage is available in the ticket office.

Q. May we bring food and drink on board?

Food and non-alcoholic beverages may be brought on board the Wolf Picnic Train, as we do not provide food or beverage service on this ride. However, large coolers, backpacks, or other large bags are not allowed. Aisles must be kept clear.

Q. Will we cross the Kate Shelley High Bridge?

A. The Kate Shelley High Bridge is located on the Union Pacific Railroad’s mainline across Iowa, which is unrelated to our line. However, we do cross the 156′ tall Bass Point Creek High Bridge, which is the highest single-track interurban railroad bridge in the United States.

On board the Wolf Picnic Train

Q. Are restrooms available on the train?

A. RV-type chemical toilets are available on board the train. It is recommended that you use the depot or museum restrooms prior to your trip.

Q. Is smoking allowed?

A. All Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad trains, buildings, and grounds are smoke-free.

Q. Are the cars heated and air conditioned?

A. Yes, the cars are climate controlled.

Q. How fast does the train go?

A. Trains travel at approximately 10 miles per hour.

Q. How long is the ride?

A. Rides on the Wolf Picnic Train are approximately 2 hours in duration.

Q. Where will the train be going?

A. Trains depart from our depot located at 225 10th Street in Boone, Iowa, wind their way through the Des Moines River Valley, before ending up near Fraser, Iowa. Fraser, once a booming mining town, was the headquarters for the Boone Valley Coal and Railroad Company, a predecessor of the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. All rides are round-trip.

Q. Are we allowed off of the train during the trip?

A. No. Once the end of the line is reached, the train will stop, then begin the return trip to Boone.


Q. What if inclement weather is predicted on the day of my trip?

A. Our trains operate rain, snow, or shine. The decision to run is based on weather conditions at the railroad. If the train runs, no refunds will be made. If a train is cancelled, a gift card will be issued – no cash refunds will be made.