What is a Rail Explorer?

A rail explorer is a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks. They have 4 steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, pedals for each seat, and are comfortable, fun and easy to ride. Although the rail explorers require pedalling, the magic of steel wheels on steel rails makes the experience very different from riding a regular bicycle. There is no need to carefully watch the road ahead, there is no need to steer and riding is hands free - making it easy to take photographs and video as you roll along. Choose either the Tandem Rail Explorer (2 seats) or Quad Rail Explorer (4 seats) for your ride.

Pedal powered rail vehicles date back to at least the 1850’s, when maintenance workers used hand-cars and ‘rail bikes’ to travel along the tracks. They were used to transport crew and materials for track inspection and repairs. Today, there are a variety of designs in use around the world: the ‘Draisine’ of Europe; ‘rail bikes’ with aluminum frames and rubber wheels; and modified road bikes with an outrigger wheel.

Our custom built explorers are the latest development of this technology, and are the global leader in safety, design and ease of operation.

Who can ride the rail explorers?

Everyone! Couples young and old, groups of friends, and families of all ages and abilities can enjoy this unique experience. Check out some of the great reviews from our riders.

Can children ride the rail explorers?

Yes! The explorers are easy to ride and children are welcome. Children must be accompanied by a rider at least 16 years of age to operate the brakes. Groups of children can ride on their own explorer, provided it is coupled to an adult's explorer.

For safety all riders must be secured in their own seat. The only exception is infants, who must be secured in a chest harness to an adult rider. Infants in a chest harness travel free. Younger children may not be able to reach the pedals but can be safely buckled in to enjoy the ride. We offer toddler harnesses for additional security for little explorers. It is not safe for children to be seated on your lap and this is strictly forbidden.

How do the tours work?

All the rail explorers leave at the same time, with a tour guide in the lead and a tour guide in the last explorer. The group spreads out along the track so that there is up to 500ft between you and the explorers ahead and behind. This allows each group to enjoy the freedom of the outdoors and the magic of the railroad at their own pace and in their own space.

How can I pass a slower rider?

Passing is not possible - the aim is to enjoy the journey, not to go as fast as you can. A slower rider in front means you will have more time to relax and enjoy the ride. Give other riders space - PLEASE DON'T TAILGATE!!!

What about riders coming the other way?

The tours are timed so that all explorers have reached the destination before they are turned around for the return trip.

What about TRAINS!!!?

Rail Explorers only operates on rails with the permission of the railroad. Our staff co-ordinate closely with the railroad managers and dispatchers to ensure that there are no other vehicles on the rails during our operations. Active railroads are extremely dangerous and unauthorised access is strictly forbidden.

In Rhode Island, you can combine your Rail Explorers Tour with the many train tours and experiences available on the Newport and Narragansett Bay Railroad. Enjoy an elegant dinner train experience on the Grand Bellevue, or take a ride on the Murder Mystery Train!

The Cooperstown, NY Division shares the rails with the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad which offers a variety of train rides.

In Boone, IA the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad presents dining and excursion train rides.

In Kentucky, the Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum offer excursion train rides.

In Amador, the Amador Central Railroad offers 'speeder' rides.

What if it rains?

Rail Explorers will operate rain or shine, provided it is safe to do so. Our tours run in light to moderately inclement weather, but will not run in heavy rain that is unlikely to stop, or if threatening weather appears imminent. We'll check the radar before every tour and if it looks like it's going to start pouring and rain for most of the tour, we'll cancel or delay departure until the weather passes. The exact timing and path of thunderstorms is difficult to predict, therefore a decision to cancel a tour because of a thunderstorm is typically only made 30 minutes before departure.

Tours will go ahead in light rain or showers. Umbrellas are provided on every Rail Explorer and rain ponchos are available. Riders are expected to dress appropriately for the predicted weather conditions and temperatures. Tours are outdoors and the railbikes are open to the elements.

Rescheduling or cancellation due to weather will only occur if Rail Explorers consider it unsafe to be on the rails. Customers who cancel due to weather are subject to our cancellation policy.

Do I have to book ahead of time or can I just show up?

Booking ahead is strongly recommended. Due to the popularity of Rail Explorers, and the limited number of seats available, many tours sell out quickly, particularly on weekends. Seats are not held in reserve for walk-ins.

Are tickets per person?

No, tickets for our regular tours are not sold per person. When you book you choose your rail explorer: either a Tandem, Quad or any combination of these, depending on how many are in your group. A Quad has 4 seats, a Tandem has 2 seats. There is no discount for empty seats. Each rider must have their own seat. It is not safe for children to be seated on your lap and this is strictly forbidden. For more information check out the explorers page.

Special event tickets may be sold per person. Please check specific event details for ticket options and prices.

How much does it cost?

Tour pricing varies depending on the location. Special tours and events may be priced differently.

Please check the locations page for pricing.

Can I buy a Gift Card?

Yes! Gift Cards are available on our website.

After purchasing a Rail Explorers gift card you'll receive a gift code. This code can be redeemed when making a booking either online or over the phone, and the value of the gift card will be deducted from the total booking cost. Premium Tours may require additional payment.

There are several delivery options for your gift code:

  • You can choose to have the code printed on a custom gift card, delivered via post to either your own street address, or the street address of your recipient. A $5 card and postage fee applies.
  • You can choose to have the gift code emailed to yourself as an e-card, so you can pass it on to your recipient however and whenever you wish.
  • You can have the code emailed directly to your lucky recipient as an e-card - the email will show that the gift is from you, but will not list the price. You can add a personalised message to the recipient to go with the email.

Gift cards may be used at any Rail Explorers location. Card is redeemable for purchase only. Unused value remains on card and cannot be redeemed for cash, except where required by law. Gift card purchase does not guarantee tour availability - bookings essential.

How do I get back to where I parked?

We won't leave you stranded! Return journeys are built into each tour and vary depending on the location and the tour details. Most tours are 'round trip' on the explorers, with a short break at the turnaround point. Some tours are one way, and the return is via shuttle bus or train. The return journey is included in the ticket price.

How long does it take?

Tour durations vary depending on the location, the type of tour and the speed of the riders. Check the tour details before you book to make sure you know how much time to allow before your next activity.

What should I wear?

Please check the weather forecast and dress appropriately for the predicted weather conditions. Tours are outdoors and the railbikes are open to the elements. Comfortable and loose fitting clothes suitable for hiking or cycling are recommended. Closed toed shoes are recommended.

What should I bring? Is there a place to put a bag or backpack?

Each rail explorer has a basket for bags and backpacks, cameras, phones or water bottles. There is also a deck under the seats where additional bags or coolers can be secured. Umbrellas are provided on all explorers in case of rain or to provide shade on hot days. During cooler temperatures some riders bring a blanket to wrap up in!

Can I bring my camera? My GoPro?

Yes! Part of the magic of riding the rails is that the experience is 'hands free' - you don't have to steer! So you have lots of opportunities to take pictures and video to capture this unique experience. Just be sure to share your pics with your friends and tag us! #RailExplorersUSA

Check out what our riders are sharing on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs (and / or other pets) are not permitted on the Boone, IA Division Tours.

Dogs are permitted at other Rail Explorers Divisions, but their safety and control is your responsibility. Riding on the railbikes may not be suitable for every dog. The ride can be noisy, and there is vibration from the rails. Dogs must be able to sit calmly on the floor of the railbike or ride in a carrier. Dogs are not permitted to be carried by the brake operator. Dogs must be restrained with a leash or harness.

Many dogs have ridden with us, but space on the explorers is limited, so larger dogs may not fit comfortably and may be in danger of being struck by the pedals or pinched by the chains. For this reason there is a limit of one dog per railbike.

What about COVID? Should I wear a mask?

Please see our COVID-19 guidelines.