Santa Express Trains

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11/29/24 through 12/22/24

Bring the family, and enjoy a ride from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s depot to the North Pole (and return). En route, you will hear the story of Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride, sing songs of the season, and take part in other fun, family activities. Also on board, you will be served a sweet treat, and children will get to meet (and receive a special memento from) Santa himself. Experience what has become a tradition for families from across Iowa, and beyond. These trains feature assigned seating. Passengers on the same order are automatically seated together. Please let us know at the time you make your reservation if you need to be seated with another party.

Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride

There’s a blizzard so fierce that reindeer can’t fly in it. How will Santa deliver gifts to children on the Iowa frontier?  Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride takes little ones on a winter adventure with Santa on his first-ever train ride to old-time Iowa. This 30 page paperback book was written and illustrated by Misty McNally, whose mother was born in Boone and whose grandparents once owned the historic Lincoln Restaurant on the old Lincoln Highway.  Get the book and follow along during your journey aboard the Santa Express train ride!

Purchase Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the event?

The event is located at 225 10th Street in Boone, Iowa.

When is the event?

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 29 through December 22, 2024

When do tickets go on sale?

Tickets go on sale November 1, 2024

How much are tickets?

Basic Coach Class: Keep watching Facebook, Instagram, Threads, or our website for further information

First Class Coach: Keep watching Facebook, Instagram, Threads, or our website for further information

How do I purchase tickets?

When they go on sale, tickets may be purchased online or by calling (515) 432-4249

Will my tickets be mailed to me?

No.  All tickets will be held for pick-up at the depot ticket window on the day of your ride.

Who needs tickets?

Tickets are required for guests ages two and up.

What are the differences between basic coach and first class coach?

First Class Coach

  • Cars are constantly heated
  • Passengers receive a ceramic mug
  • Passengers receive a larger bell
  • Santa passes through First Class Coach first

Classic Coach Class

  • Cars are preheated before boarding. Depending on outdoor temperature, wind speed, and direction, cars can cool off before we get back to the station.  Our best advice is to dress in layers.  The floors are concrete, so wear warm footwear.
  • Passengers do not receive a ceramic mug
  • Passengers receive a smaller bell

A note about bench seating…

The purchase of a ticket does not entitle you to an entire bench seat.  Bench seats are designed to hold two adults.  The purchase of a ticket entitles you to half of a bench seat.  Coats and/or jackets must be worn, held in your lap, or placed in overhead luggage racks.  Please be considerate of other passengers — do not take up seating space by filling empty seats with coats or jackets.

What takes place on the Santa Express?

As we leave the station, your car attendant will greet you, and briefly tell you about our operations, and maybe find out a bit of information about the passengers.  We will then read a story written just for us, “Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride”.  The book is available in the gift shop, or may be preordered if you want to have one to read along with and see the pictures better.  We will have an elf walking up and down the aisle, showing pictures from the book as the attendant reads the story. We should finish the story about the time we arrive at the “North Pole”.

At the North Pole, Santa will get on the train.  He will walk through the train, and greet each child and give him or her a bell.  While he is doing that, the car attendant and elves will pass out sweet treats to our passengers.  When Santa gets through the train, he will de-board and stand by his workshop.  We will wave goodbye to him and head back to town.  During the ride back, we will sing seasonal songs, tell holiday riddles and jokes. When we get back to town, we will help everyone de-board safely.

When do I need to arrive at the depot?

We request that you arrive 45 to 60 minutes before the departure time printed on your confirmation or tickets.  That will give you time to park, pick up your tickets at the ticket window, and use restrooms before boarding. You can browse our gift shop and museum while waiting to board. These are winter trains, so expect and allow for winter driving conditions.  Trains do depart on time, and are not held for late arrivals. Please keep in mind that freight trains frequently block crossings in the city of Boone!

Are the cars heated?

Basic coach class cars are preheated before boarding. Cars can be very warm when you first get on.  Depending on outdoor temperature, wind speed, and direction, cars can cool off before we get back to the station.  Our best advice is to dress in layers.  The floors are concrete, so wear warm footwear.  Our first class coach cars have onboard heating, and are constantly heated.

Will the “Polar Express” book be read?

Due to copyright constraints, the “Polar Express” book is no longer read.

How long does the ride last?

The ride usually takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but can vary a bit depending on how long it takes Santa, and the servers, to get through the train.

The weather man says we might get snow.  Is the train going to run?

Typical winter weather does not stop the train from operating. Check our website, Facebook, or Twitter feed for the latest status updates.  If we cancel the train (usually due to ice or a blizzard), we may try to reschedule, or a gift card will be issued.  Ticket holders will be required to call us to make arrangements to reschedule or to receive the gift card.

Does the steam engine pull the Santa Express train?

The Santa Express trains are pulled by a diesel locomotive.

Will we be getting off of the train?

No.  All activities take place on board the train.

Are there any refunds?

There will be no refunds or exchanges.  In the event of the cancellation of a train, a gift card will be issued.

Do you recommend purchasing tickets in advance?

As trains often sell out, advance ticket purchase is highly recommended.

What times do trains depart?

Fridays:  6:00 pm

Saturdays: 10:30 am, 1:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 6:00 pm

Sunday after Thanksgiving: 1:00 pm, 3:30 pm

Other Sundays: 10:30 am, 1:00 pm, 3:30 pm

Is there assigned seating on the train?

Are you limited to just one train ride?

There is one train ride per ticket.

Is there parking available on site?

On-site parking is available.  Street parking is also available.  There is no additional cost for parking.

Are strollers permitted?

Strollers and/or car seats are not permitted on the train.  An area for stroller storage is available in our ticket office.  Toddlers must be held/seated on your lap.

Is the train ADA accessible?

Call (515) 432-4249 to confirm availability.

Are pets allowed?

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed.