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Why the name “Skunk Train”?

The nickname “Skunk” originated in 1925 when motorcars were introduced (today sometimes referred to as railbuses or railcruisers). These single-unit, self-propelled motorcars had gasoline-powered engines for power and a pot-bellied stove burning crude oil to keep the passengers warm. The combination of the fumes created a very pungent odor, and the old timers living along the line said these motorcars were like skunks, “You could smell them before you could see them.”

The railroad’s historic name is California Western Railroad.

Do we need a reservation?

While you can travel certain times of the year without having booked in advance, we always encourage a reservation.

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes, we take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. For purchases made on the train we accept cash only.

Are pets allowed on the train?

Dogs are the only pets permitted on board. We do ask that you be considerate of your dog though – they simply may not like trains. Please bring whatever they need to be comfortable (food, water, dishes, a leash, etc.). Dogs are $10.95 and reservations are suggested.

Is the train handicap accessible?

Our historic railcars were the epitome of rail travel in their day, but in today’s world there are some limitations.  For our guests in wheelchairs, switching from your chair to one of our coach seats may be necessary.  Our conductor will work closely with you for boarding, seating, and assisting with storage of the wheelchair during your journey. 

Can we bring food on the train?

Yes. We encourage this as there is up to 50 minutes to enjoy amongst the redwoods, with picnic tables and a loop hiking trail as well. Please no alcohol.

Can we bring alcohol on the train?

Thank you for asking, but we do not allow outside alcohol on board the train. We have a wonderful selection of wine and beer from beautiful Mendocino County – which by the way is America’s Greenest Wine Growing Region – including our very own Skunk Beer (bottled for us by Anderson Valley Brewing Company), plus a full bar on board the train.

Can I get to the Skunk Train depot by train?

Our Willits depot is a new stop on the Amtrak San Joaquins connecting bus service, which runs from Martinez > Vallejo > Discovery Kingdom > Napa > Petaluma > Rohnert Park > Santa Rosa > Healdsburg > Cloverdale > Ukiah > Willits > Laytonville > Leggett > Garberville > Fortuna > Eureka > Arcata > Humboldt; this is Route 7 on Ambrak’s Thruway bus route, and connects to Amtrak’s rail service daily at the Martinez Amtrak station. Visit AmtrakSanJoaquins.com for more information.

Do your trains leave on time?

Without question we try to maintain our schedule. If you miss a train we will issue you a gift certificate for a future ride or book you on the next available departure. We will not, however, issue a refund because you’ve missed the scheduled departure.

How should we dress?

Comfortable and casual layered clothing is suggested to keep warm in the chilly months. If you plan on riding the Open Air Observation Car then we suggest dark clothing, because sometimes lighter clothing can get soot spots on it.

What is the HPF?

Our Historic Preservation Fund allows us to continue the work of preserving this treasured piece of living history.

Rise and Shine Railbikes


Select weekends at 8am enjoy a very special 1-hour there-and-back discounted trip, with coffee, juice, and snacks to get your day off on the right foot!