All aboard for the 2023 Holiday Express!
Health and Safety Notice
Experience the magic as you take a one-hour, round trip journey from Hill City to the North Pole where Santa will board the train and ride back to Hill City, taking time to visit with each child on the way. Passengers enjoy hot cocoa, a sugar cookie and a special story on the way to the North Pole. All kids will receive a bell to ring for Santa and be able to talk with Mrs. Claus and Santa.
Holiday Express First Class seating offers an elevated experience in our Hilyo caboose and Rochford train car. This option is available November 24, 25 and December 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24.
Holiday Express Spiked passengers enjoy everything received with a regular ride along with spiked hot cocoa in a keepsake mug! Adults only (21+), limited runs. Check out our new, Spiked only departures on November 24 & 25 and December 2, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23, 27 & 28, times varying. This is a great office Christmas party outing or the perfect way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. Call 605.574-2222 today or purchase online!
Winter Express Runs are available this year offering regular and Spiked options. Even though Santa has Gone Fishin’ this Winter train ride provides some after Christmas fun! This is a one-hour, round trip journey from Hill City to the North Pole. Passengers will receive hot-chocolate a sugar cookie, candy-cane and kids will receive a small bell to ring in the New Year!
Download a map of the 1880 Train Station in Hill City
One hour, round trip; 1/2 hour each way. The Holiday Express travels to the North Pole (Oblivion) and back. It does not travel to Keystone.
Tickets sell quickly for all Holiday Express departures, so yes, purchase your tickets now!
Yes, they are heated, but not to a toasty warm. We encourage dressing in layers. If the temperature is cold outdoors, bring a blanket or two. The boarding area is outdoors, so dress accordingly.
We do not offer group rates for special events.
Holiday Express seating is assigned. When purchasing your tickets, purchase all tickets together and select the seats you prefer. Once selected or assigned, seat assignments cannot be changed. The earlier you purchase your tickets, the better the chance you will be seated together. All Holiday Express departures sell out.
The day of your ride, come to the Hill City Depot, give your last name, and your boarding passes will be printed that day. You do not need to bring your confirmation, just give your last name. Boarding begins 30 to 45 minutes prior to departure.
Seating is assigned. In order to sit together, all passengers must be under ONE reservation. When making reservations online, you may select your own seats. Please ensure you have the final count of your party when making your reservation and selecting seat assignments. Seating assignments cannot be changed once selected or assigned. Guests who add on to a reservation at a later date are not guaranteed a seat with your party. Children 2 and under must be held on a lap, except on the First Class car where lap seats are not available. If you would like children 2 & under to have their own seat on a regular departure, or would like to bring their car seat, a child’s ticket must be purchased.
Absolutely! You are welcome to wear your pajamas or any festive attire you wish. Just be sure to dress warmly!
Hot chocolate and sugar cookies are served in route. If you have dietary restrictions, please feel free to bring your own food and beverage on board. Wine by the glass, wine by the bottle, beer, hot cider and coffee are available for purchase in the depot as well as snacks that you are welcome to bring on board.
Please plan for the unexpected, South Dakota winter weather! The 1880 Train is not liable for road closures or delays. This event will run no matter the weather.
Once the train arrives at the North Pole, Santa boards the Train and the diesel engine switches from the front to the back of the train. Once the engine is ready to go, the train heads back to Hill City with Santa on board. Passengers are able to see the North Pole buildings from the Train, but passengers do not deboard the train during this time. The stop at the North Pole takes less than 10 minutes.
Santa will be making his way through the train and visiting with everyone. Santa is available to take pictures this year, so bring your camera!
Guests who purchase a First-Class ticket are seating in either the Hilyo or Rochford car. Each First-Class passenger receives unlimited hot chocolate with toppings, a keepsake campfire Holiday Express mug, sugar cookie, candy cane, a special first-class bell for each child, and a visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus. A children’s ticket must be purchased for all children (0-12), with a discounted fare for infants (0-2). Since tables will be in use, there will not be space for a child to sit on a lap.
This option is available November 24, 25 and December 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24.
For more detailed ticket and cancellation policy information, please refer to the information at right (on desktop) or below (on mobile).
Please call our office at 605.574.2222 or email us at email@example.com with any questions regarding your group!
Enjoy a keepsake photo of your Holiday Express experience by getting a professional photo with Santa! Photos are $10 each or 3 for $25 and are taken at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, right next door to the Hill City Depot. Santa photos will be taken from noon - 4:00 pm each day of the Holiday Express rides.
After your ride on the Holiday Express, continue your holiday adventure next door at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum. Receive $2 off your adult admission when you present your train ticket. Age 10 and under are FREE!
$46 Adult, $23 Child (2-12)
1 and under FREE
Group rates are not available for special event rides.
Holiday Express – Spiked!
$59 Adults only
Holiday Express – First Class
$79 Adult, $56 Child (2-12), 1 and under $21
Group rates are not available for special event rides. Your credit card is charged at the time of purchase. Please pick up tickets 30 minutes in advance at the Hill City Depot.
Available November 24 & 25 and December 16, 17, 22, 23 & 24 only.
Seating is assigned. In order to sit together, all passengers must be under ONE reservation. When making reservations online, you may select your own seats. Please ensure you have the final count of your party when making your reservation and selecting seat assignments. Seating assignments cannot be changed once selected or assigned. Guests who add on to a reservation at a later date are not guaranteed a seat with your party. Children 2 and under must be held on a lap. If you would like them to have their own seat, or would like to bring their car seat, a child’s ticket must be purchased.
Please refrain from choosing a seat with a different party already occupying half of the bench. For example, if you have a group of three people, please do not place that third person next to a different party. Our management staff is checking seat assignments on a daily basis to block any single seats to prevent co-mingling of separate parties.
Credit card is charged at time of reservation. Like any ticketed event, all sales are final and no refunds or cancellations are offered unless ticketed train does not operate.
Bad Weather: Please prepare for winter road and traffic conditions! The 1880 Train is not liable for road closures or delays. This event will run no matter the weather.
If you need lodging, follow the links below for options available during the Holiday Express:
Mountain Peaks Inn
Pine Rest Cabins
Double Diamond Cabins
Palmer Gulch KOA
Cabins near Hill City
Harney Peak Inn