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Sacramento RiverTrain Christmas Train from Woodland

The Christmas Train<br>Fun for the Whole Family!

The Christmas Train
Fun for the Whole Family!

The extremely popular Christmas Train is a special treat for children of all ages.

Your Christmas journey includes Santa, elves, storytellers, musicians, hot cocoa and cookies.

You are welcome to wear your pajamas!

These special trips begin on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and are offered during the daytime and evening until a couple of days before Christmas.

Due to frequent sell-outs, please make sure you purchase your desired date well in advance.


  • Scenic Train Trip
  • Santa, Elves and Entertainers
  • Hot Cocoa & Cookies


Launched in July 2005, the Sacramento RiverTrain is one of the nation's newest dinner trains. Trips feature food and entertainment while you roll through the countryside. While the RiverTrain is new, the equipment and railroad have a long history.

The RiverTrain operates on the 16-mile "Woodland Branch" between Woodland and West Sacramento. 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 until the early 1960s. Slowly, the various railspurs were torn up along the route and eventually only the industries in Woodland remained. 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 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 1920s 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 agriculture-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. The Sierra Railroad is similar in size to the Yolo, located 70 miles south in Oakdale. In addition to freight, the Sierra operates the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train. Later that year, the merged railroad saved and reopened the famous Skunk Train on the Northern California Coast.

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, sending 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" look, featuring plantation-style ceiling fans, comfortable rattan furniture, wood paneling, carpet, paint, interior and exterior lights, new windows, and an upgraded sound system.

In addition to the physical improvements, the RiverTrain features a variety of new daytime and evening trips with food and entertainment. The popular Great Train Robbery was continued and is now offered almost every Saturday.


The Sacramento RiverTrain departs from Woodland, CA - 15 minutes from Davis, 20 minutes from Sacramento, 90 minutes from San Francisco and a little over 2 hours from Redding. Specifics about the boarding location in Woodland will be provided on your E-Ticket.


  • Schedule subject to change and/or cancellation without notice.
  • No Smoking.
  • No Pets. Guide/Service dogs are permitted.

Tour does not offer hotel pick-up or drop-off. Tickets are non-refundable, but transferable to new date - if available - with at least 72-hours advance notice. Please reserve online, or call us toll-free at 800-510-8004.


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