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Kid Friendly Activities in Yosemite – Adventure 1 – Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Okay so this first chronical of kid-friendly activities and adventures in Yosemite is technically just outside Yosemite in Fish Camp … but close enough. And the experience is awesome enough to make it well worth the drive from wherever you are staying in or near the Park!

The ticket office at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (YMSPRR) is a wonderful tourist destination that takes visitors back into Yosemite’s history, both commercial and natural. Reconstructed in 1965 from an old logging operation that had nearly clear cut the forests around Yosemite, the Stauffer family laid 2 miles of narrow-gauge track and constructed the engine house, ticket office, and museum before opening to guests in 1967.

E-Man and Itsy Bitsy in front of the No. 10 Engine before our train ride (September 2021)

Visiting the YMSPRR is a great activity for the whole family because there is so much more to do on the property than just ride the train. Although I do highly recommend riding the train, so much FUN!

We first found the YMSPRR years ago before Itsy Bitsy was born, on a trip to Yosemite for Fat Papa’s 30th birthday. Oh, were we ever that young? Knowing that Fat Papa is a BIG fan of trains, I had done some research on the possibility of a train ride through the mountains as a surprise and was NOT disappointed by the YMSPRR. On that visit we participated in their evening train ride and dinner service which was a ton of fun.

I look forward to doing the evening train ride with Itsy Bitsy when she is a little older, can stay up a bit later, and is a bit less of a picky eater. The food served was great BBQ, but if it isn’t plain chicken or a hotdog no bun, Itsy Bitsy isn’t having it (I look forward to her 5-year-old tastebuds maturing).

Yup, the engine is pulling backwards, don't ask why, it's just how the YMSPRR set up that day (Sept. 2021)

However, the afternoon 1-hour train ride was ABSOLUTELY perfect for Itsy Bitsy, E-man, and Bonnie, a new friend we made on the train!

Confession time. There is so much I could say about our experience and visit to the YMSPRR, but admittedly, I’m hoarding my memories a bit like a dragon with treasure. I love blogging and sharing all my family’s stories and experiences with all of you, but I also find that sometimes, I just want to hold on to a little bit for myself as well.

So I’m going to make a deal with you. I’m going to make this a short review of the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, not because there is not much to say, but because of how incredibly special it is to me and my family. In exchange I will give you TONS of photos that demonstrate FAR BETTER than my words why you should go and visit. And visit you should!


Engine No 10

There is just something special about taking a train ride on a steam engine through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If you haven’t done it before, I cannot recommend it enough. You will not be disappointed, even if you are not a train nerd like Fat Papa or a history buff like this Fat Mama.

All the kids loved being able to ride in the open-air passenger cars where they could see the scenery going by and hear the No 10 steam engine chugging along. The 1-hour round trip narrated tour was great for all the adults in our party too. Getting to relive the magic of trains through our kids’ eyes was so special.

E-Man watches the tour guide talk with the engineer as the tour gets ready to begin (September 2021)

While the adults were mostly interested in the mechanics of the train, the history of the area, or simply enjoying the scenery, Itsy Bitsy and E-man were so excited by all the new sensations. Riding the train was like a smorgasbord for their senses. All the new sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of the train ride were so exciting. Check out this video of the steam engine working, and you will get a sense of what I mean… get it… sense… okay bad Mama pun…

Lunch For Lumberjacks