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Halloween Chills In California: Frightful, Fun Train Rides!

Last revised: January 1, 2024

By: Adam Burns

Halloween-themed train rides have grown in popularity over the years and range from pumpkin patch trains where kids can ride out to pick out a pumpkin for carving to truly spooky haunted trains.  In California, tourist railroads host only pumpkin patch trains.  A number of these events also offer other activities for the kids to enjoy.

Other Halloween Attractions

California is one of the best places to be during the Halloween season. From haunted houses to pumpkin patches, California has everything you need to get into the Halloween spirit. If you are looking for other ways to enjoy the season besides just a train ride here are some of the top attractions.

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Hollywood is known for its Halloween Horror Nights, where the park transforms into a terrifying world of monsters, ghouls, and horror movie icons. This year's event features mazes based on The Haunting of Hill House, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Exorcist. Guests can also experience scare zones, live shows, and ride their favorite attractions in the dark.

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor is a Halloween event located in Long Beach, California, held at the historic Queen Mary ship. The event features six mazes, including B340, which is based on a real-life incident where a passenger went insane and killed people on board. The event also includes live entertainment, a 4-D theater experience, and a haunted maze that takes place on the ship's deck.

Knott's Scary Farm

Knott's Scary Farm is an annual Halloween event held at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. The event features mazes, scare zones, and live shows, including a performance by the world-famous illusionist, Ed Alonzo. This year's event includes mazes based on The Pumpkin Eater and Dark Entities, as well as a new scare zone called The Forsaken Lake.

Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Fright Fest is a Halloween event held at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. The event features haunted mazes, scare zones, and live shows, as well as access to the park's thrill rides in the dark. This year's event includes mazes based on The Willoughby's Resurrected and Aftermath, as well as a new scare zone called Demon's Door.

The Haunted Hayride at Griffith Park

The Haunted Hayride is a Halloween event located in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California. The event features a hayride through a haunted forest, as well as haunted mazes and a scare zone. This year's event includes mazes based on Midnight Falls and Dead End Diner, as well as a new scare zone called The Dark Maze.

In conclusion, California has a lot to offer when it comes to Halloween attractions. From haunted houses to pumpkin patches, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So, grab your friends and family and get ready to experience the spookiest season of the year.

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

(Campo):  Every month but December the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum offers at least one of its many excursion options along its 12-mile round trip railroad near Campo, California.  Located near the Mexican border, the organization was founded on October 18, 1959 and since that time as acquired more than 120 pieces of rolling stock (cars and locomotives).

Their excursion trains run on the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway, a mostly dormant line that connected both California and Mexico.  During select dates in October they host the Pumpkin Express for Halloween.  During this trip, the kids can ride out and pick out their favorite pumpkin then return to the Display Building to decorate it.

While there the kids can see the museum's collection of Halloween scenes and visit their haunted train.

2023 Dates

Not yet announced.

Roaring Camp Railroads

(Felton):  Owned and operated by the same organization that operates the Skunk Train the Roaring Camp operates a number of different trains including a beach train and forest train.

During October they host the "Harvest Faire" for Halloween where kids can ride the train to Bear Mountain to pick out their favorite pumpkin for carving.  Other activities during this event include kids crafts, blacksmithing, gold panning, and live entertainment.  There are two separate trains offered for this event, the 75-minute "Forest Train" and 3-hour "Beach Train."

2023 Dates

  • October 7 - October 8

River Fox Train

(West Sacramento/Woodland):  Formerly known as the Sacaramento RiverTrain, this excursion train, located on the banks of the Sacramento River, is best known for offering upscale trips which includes beer, wine, and murder mystery specials along their 10-mile segment of track through Yolo County.

One particular special event held every year is the "Pumpkin Patch Express" for the kids.  The experience includes a train ride where the kids can pick out a pumpkin for carving.  During the trip, children are encouraged to dress up in their favorite costume.  There are also games to be enjoyed, bouncy houses, sack races, costume contests and more!

The event includes a 1-hour train ride and an additional 1-hour of festivities.

2023 Dates

  • September 30 - October 1
  • October 7 - October 8
  • October 14 - October 15
  • October 21 - October 22
  • October 29

The Skunk Train (California Western Railroad)

(Fort Bragg/Willits):  The famed Skunk Train, currently owned by the Mendocino Railway, is one of the most popular California tourist trains, is located in the northern region of the state between Fort Bragg and Willits.  The railroad's history dates back to 1887 and was slowly extended over the years.

After years of operating as a freight carrier it transitioned into a heritage railroad hosting public excursions in 1996. One of its themed rides is the "Pumpkin Express" during October where the kids get to enjoy treats and pick out a pumpkin.

The railroad is unique in its location, operating through the state's beautiful and historic redwood forests.

2023 Dates

  • October 1st
  • October 4th
  • October 6 - October 8
  • October 11th
  • October 13 - October 15
  • October 18th
  • October 20 - October 22
  • October 25th
  • October 27 - October 30

Western Pacific Railroad Museum

(Portola):  The Western Pacific Railroad, operated by the Feather River Rail Society, is located in Portola, California (known as the Portola Railroad Museum prior to 2006) and maintains the history of the Western Pacific via a large collection of preserved locomotives and rolling stock.  

They also host train rides including the Pumpkin Patch Trains during October where the kids can ride out and pick out a pumpkin for carving.  The museum operates about 1 mile of track for excursions.

2023 Dates

  • October 21 - October 22
  • October 28 - October 29

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