The Skunk Train

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One of the most recommended Things To Do in Willits, CA is the picturesque Skunk Train. The Train that brings the beauty of some of the most majestic Redwood Trees in the clear. Come see what makes The Skunk Train such a wonderful stop on your journey.

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About The Skunk Train

Come ride the Skunk in its natural habitat. Forty miles of railroad run through majestic redwood forests, scenic mountain meadows, and over 30 trestles bridging the pristine mountain waters of Northern California.

Departing from Willits and traveling to Northspur, your train will climb the Eastern slope of the Coastal Mountain Range and cut through it at Tunnel #2 (the Summit) before descending down into the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon. This 4-hour, 40-mile roundtrip allows you to explore the wonderful forest where the world’s tallest trees take you back in time. Once you arrive at Northspur, the midpoint of the railroad, you will disembark for an opportunity to walk around, purchase lunch, and breathe the pristine mountain air.

Departing from Fort Bragg your train will travel along the Pudding Creek Estuary to Glen Blair Junction on this short and scenic 1-hour, 7-mile roundtrip. You will be traveling over some of the first tracks laid down by the California Western Railroad in 1885. Once the train stops it will immediately return to Fort Bragg.



Northspur Flyer

This 4 to 4.5-hour round trip departs Willits and begins the steep ascent (3.5% grade) to the summit of our line at 1,740 feet. Traveling through Tunnel No. 2, the trip descends into the Noyo River Canyon. In one spot, you will travel 8.5 miles to cover a straight-line distance of less than one mile in a serpentine of switchbacks. From Willits we operate the vintage 1925 M-100 motorcar / railcruiser or a diesel locomotive pulling passneger coaches and an open air car.


Pudding Creek Express

This one 1-hour, 7-mile roundtrip takes you over the first tracks laid down by the California Western Railroad, and along the beautiful Pudding Creek Estuary. The powerful diesel locomotives of the Skunk’s fleet will be pulling passenger cars and an open-air car. No one will be getting off the train during the duration of the trip. Common wildlife sightings include blue heron, egrets, osprey, ducks, and the occasional lounging turtle.​


Sunset BBQ Excursion

All Aboard for our BBQ Dinner Excursion. Travel from Willits to Northspur round trip aboard the vintage 1925 or 1935 Motorcar. Running on Saturday evenings between Memorial Day and Labor Day, join us for this delicious BBQ feast in the forest.​


Camping on the Noyo

Journey by rail to a historic logging camp in the rugged and scenic Noyo River Canyon. Accessible only by train, Camp Noyo is a world unto itself – with eight private campsites and a river view chalet, this is a well-equipped camping wonderland. The river offers opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and more.


Magical Christmas Train

This holiday season, share your cookies with Santa Claus and his elves aboard our Magical Christmas Train. We deliver Santa right to your table, so you can skip the lines and experience Christmas through the imagination of a child.


Pumpkin Express

Celebrate fall by climbing aboard our Pumpkin Express! Join us on this beautiful round trip to an autumnal wonderland at Northspur Station. Once there, kids will be able to choose their own pumpkin and enjoy delicious treats.

History of Skunk Train

  • Our beginning

Built as a logging railroad in 1885 by Charles R. Johnson, the “Redwood Route™” was a logical vehicle for moving massive redwood logs to Mendocino coast sawmills from the rugged backcountry. The train played a vital role during this t ime in transporting families and workers who set up the various logging camps along the route and in doing so, became an entirely different type of line. It played an important part not only in the area’s industrial life, but also in its social and cultural activities. No other logging railroad in America has made the deep impression on American life that was created by the line from Fort Bragg – first by the natural beauty of its route and later, by the distinctiveness of its equipment. Skunk Train’s Motorcar M80 in the 1950s

  • “Smells like a skunk!”

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 pot-bellied stoves 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 caretakers

California Western Railroad was initially operated as a division of the Fort Bragg mill (Union Lumber Company, Boise-Cascade). In the mid-1960s, Arizona-based Kyle Railways began managing the railroad and purchased it in 1987. In August 1996, a group comprised entirely of local Mendocino Coast investors purchased California Western, marking the first time in its 111-year history that the line would be operated as an independent business. Today the Skunk Train is owned and operated by Mendocino Railway.

Skunk Train Reviews

I'd long wanted to ride the famous Skunk Train, so when my husband and I planned our 30th anniversary trip in the area...Eager guests, many of them families with young children, filed into the two cars, bound for the beautiful forested area outside of Willets, but we weren't the only ones aboard. We were joined by Santa and Mrs. Claus, several of Santa's elves, and a strolling musician who regaled us with kid-friendly songs. Throughout the journey, we enjoyed a variety of fun activities: sipping hot chocolate from our souvenir mugs, munching on big sugar cookies, singing carols, hearing an ongoing story about a missing teddy bear that engaged the youngsters, and participating in a pompom-ball snowball fight...the Skunk Train would be a joyful outing for all ages. I highly recommend taking a trip.
We rode the big train out of Willits, CA. the outside standing train was a hit. It was so nice to travel through the woods in an open air car. Guitar man was playing old Railroad songs and was great entertainment. Small food cart available, At the turn around food was out the roof on prices but good. Traveling through the Redwoods is just very majestic, If we go through there again it will be first on our list of things to do. We did not take the small yellow train, I am not sure I would like that.

Skunk Train Coupon Code

Unfortunately, there aren’t any Coupon Codes available for the Skunk Train. They do offer discounts for group travels. The Old West Inn does offer a service to book tickets directly with us.

The Old West Inn became a part of the Skunk Depot family in 2016 as one of the lodgings who could book tickets for the Skunk Train.

Also Related: See our extended Visit Willits and Also Whats Nearby

Tour Groups & Group Travel

We work extensively with tour operators. We are members of the American Bus Association (ABA) and National Tour Association (NTA).

For groups of 20 or more, we offer a 10% group discount; larger discounts are available for multiple contracted trips. 


Corporate Parties and Meetings

Companies frequently use the Skunk Train to host holiday parties, business presentations, retreats, or annual celebrations. We can accommodate groups in excess of 350. Our partnership with Camp Mendocino and Camp Noyo allows us to use their facility. Camp Mendocino is Ropes Course-certified, has an amphitheater for presentations, overnight accommodations, and a full service dining hall.    nb v 

Skunk Train Map

skunk train map

Is The Skunk Train Dog Friendly?

Dogs are the only pets permitted on board. We do ask that you be considerate of your canine though – they simply may not like trains. Please bring whatever they need to be comfortable (food, water, dishes, a leash, etc.). Starting in 2013, there will be a charge for canine passengers.

Where Does The Skunk Train Go?

Located in Northern California’s Mendocino County there is a skunk running through the redwood forest, but this isn’t any skunk, it’s the world famous Skunk Train. The California redwoods, pristine coastline, and award winning vineyards are all a part of the landscape of what makes Mendocino County such an amazing place and home to this 131-year-old train.

Regardless of your departure point it’s the occasional whistles as your train chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal “Redwood Route” as it has since 1885. It is the towering trees, a glimpse of a deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman’s cabin peeking from the forest, and the notion that you have left the rest of the world behind that draw people to the Skunk Train.


The Noyo River Canyon

Departing from Fort Bragg, the first few miles run alongside the Pudding Creek estuary, where common wildlife sightings include blue heron, egrets, osprey, ducks, and the occasional lounging turtle. After passing through Tunnel No. 1, the Skunk Train snakes its way along the Noyo River, zig-zagging through the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon.


Coastal Range and Redwoods

Departing from Willits and traveling to Northspur, your train will climb the Eastern slope of the California Coast Range, cutting through it at Tunnel No. 2 (Summit) before descending into the Noyo River Canyon. This is the mountainous part of our railroad line, in which 8.5 miles of track cover a straight-line distance of less than one mile.


Skunk Train Camping


Embark on the Skunk Train and spend the night in the rugged Noyo River Canyon, 17 miles east of Fort Bragg. Originally a logging camp along the famed route of the Skunk Train, Camp Noyo is a remote wilderness area that will be your new favorite campsite—and only accessible via train.

Camp Noyo

Camp Noyo was first developed as a logging camp for the Union Lumber Company in 1907. Originally called “Camp Four,” it was the fourth camp established by the lumber company as they progressed east from Fort Bragg along the current route of the California Western Railroad. In 1933, the Union Lumber Company donated the property to the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts began using the site in the summer 1934 and continue to use the property for several weeks every summer.

In 2012, Allan Hemphill, his son Brian, and a small group of family friends purchased the property from the Boy Scouts. The Hemphill family has been caretaking Camp Noyo for over 60 years.

Now under new ownership, Camp Noyo has been made available to the general public on a very limited basis. This unique property has eight private campsites and one River View Chalet, flush toilet, wood-heated showers, and the use of canoes, kayaks, and row boats. All campsites have benches for your group. The seasonal summer dam creates an estuary that allows boat access to a mile of the river upstream of the camp; the dam is in place from mid-June to mid-September, with ample swimming and boating water year-round. The Noyo River is crystal clear and cold and has several very deep pools that are home to rainbow trout, steelhead, salmon, river otters, ducks, salamanders, and frogs. Enjoy a brisk swim or just nap under the afternoon sun and on the floating dock anchored in the middle of the river.

Interested parties are encouraged to book their reservation early for this truly unique opportunity.


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 or at Northspur, 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 canine though – they simply may not like trains. Please bring whatever they need to be comfortable (food, water, dishes, a leash, etc.). Starting in 2013, there will be a charge for canine passengers.


Is the train handicap accessible?

Yes – but there are limitations, given that our railcars were built in the very early 1900s. We strive to make every guest feel comfortable and will do our very best to accommodate your visit.


Can we bring food on the train?

All of our trains have a concession on board where you can purchase snacks and beverages. In the event someone in your party has dietary restrictions then by all means bring whatever is necessary. Of course, parents traveling with babies and children requiring special food and beverage items are also allowed.

If you are riding a BBQ Dinner train, dinner is served to you upon arrival at Northspur.


Can we bring alcohol on the train?

Absolutely not. We have a wonderful selection of wine from beautiful Mendocino County – which by the way is America’s Greenest Wine Growing Region – and local beers, including our very own Skunk Beer (bottled for us by Anderson Valley Brewing Company), plus a full bar on board the train.


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.

Contact The Skunk Train

Address: 299 E Commercial St, Willits, CA 95490
Phone: 707-964-6371

Skunk Train Across The Social Media

California Western Railroad
California Western Railroad (reporting mark CWR), popularly called the Skunk Train, is a heritage railroad in Mendocino County, California, running from

Sierra Railroad
Train (Oakdale), the Sacramento RiverTrain (Woodland-Sacramento) and the Skunk Train (Fort Bragg-Willits). The company’s Sierra Energy division is for energy

eastern terminus of the California Western Railroad (otherwise known as theSkunk Train“), running through the Coast Redwood forests to coastal Fort Bragg
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