Boone Iowa Rail Explorers

Are you looking for something unique and thrilling to add to your family’s summer bucket list? 

If so, you need to check out the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers.

While riding these rail bikes, you will be blown away by the beauty of Iowa surrounding you including the farmland, forests, jaw dropping views from two bridges, the Des Moines river, and more. 

You will feel like you are flying over the trees as your rail bike goes across the Bass Creek High Trestle. This bridge towers 156 feet into the air, and you can see for miles. 

Railroad going overtop trees

Continue reading to get all of your questions answered about the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers as well as some helpful advice to make your experience even better!


Where is the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers located?

Boone, Iowa is located about 50 minutes north of Des Moines. 

The Rail Explorers is located on the same grounds as the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad.

It does have its own separate check in and waiting area as well as even its own small gravel parking lot. 

They even have their own restrooms. 

Look for all of the red signs and flags for the Rail Explorers. 

How long is the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers?

The Boone Rail Explorers is 12.5 miles round trip. There is one tour that is just 11.5 miles but most are the full 12.5 miles. 

Plan on the entire tour taking close to 2 hours. 

On most of the tours, you will pedal out to Rose’s Landing which overlooks the Des Moines River. This is where the guides will turn around the rail bikes so you can begin your journey back.

You will likely be at Rose’s Landing for about 15-20 minutes so bring some drinks, snacks, or a light lunch or dinner, and enjoy your time there!

How does the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers work?

The rail explorers have two different rail bikes for parties to use. One is a quad bike for four people and the other is a tandem bike for two people. 

Each rail explorer uses pedal power for a motor to run and propel the bike forward. That said, it does not require a ton of pedal power. It is not the same as riding a regular bike. 

The technology does a great job of propelling you forward so there is no need for demanding pedaling. 

You will not feel tired after riding the rail explorer. 

Additionally, it is important to note that you do not need to worry about steering anything. It does it all for you.

All you need to do is some easy pedaling to propel you forward on your journey. 

One rider in your party will be responsible for braking when it is necessary. The brake works similar to a handbrake on a bike. This individual must be over 16 years of age. 

A couple of other things to note– you cannot pass anyone. It is impossible. If the person in front of you is going slower, you will have to just slow down too and focus on enjoying the views!

Additionally, it is important that you keep a good distance behind the person in front of you. Doing this makes your experience superior anyways as you will have better views and will feel like you are just with your group on this amazing journey.

What can I expect when riding the rail explorer?

You can expect to have an amazing time! The wind will be in your face and hopefully the sun shining above!

The views will for sure be breathtaking. 

The rail bike does not require a ton of demanding pedal power. It is actually very easy, and you can even take breaks pedaling. 

The kids can pedal if they want, or they don’t have to pedal at all!

There is a seat belt for everyone to wear as well.

For each tour, there is a guide rail bike in the front of the group as well as in the back of the group. 

We felt 100% safe on the Boone, Iowa rail explorers. I was nervous about going across the bridges, but it wasn’t scary at all.

What ages are best for the rail explorers?

Kids of all ages can ride the rail explorers, but I recommend that kids be at least 6 years old. 

The rail explorers are thrilling and there are fantastic views all along the way, but I think that kids younger than 6 may not have a large enough attention span to sit in a safe manner for the full 12.5 miles round trip.

We took our two oldest boys, ages 7 and 9, and they did absolutely amazing!

If a younger child is going to do the rail explorers, they do have toddler harnesses. Every child must be in their own seat with the exception of an infant that must be in a chest harness (baby carrier) on their parent. The infant is free of charge.

Personally, I would not bring an infant as I don’t think it would be very comfortable to ride the rail bike while wearing a baby carrier. 

Boy with a green and gray hat on sitting on a rail bike with his seat belt on

What should I bring to the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers?

  1. Snacks, drinks, and even a light dinner You will have 15-20 minutes at Rose’s Landing which is a beautiful area overlooking the Des Moines River. They have adirondack chairs with side tables that are perfect for enjoying some snacks and drinks. 
  2. Water Especially on a hot day, you will want to make sure to have some water with you. There is a basket between the seats that you can put a small cooler in.
  3. Sunglasses The sun can be really bright when you are riding so sunglasses are super helpful. Additionally, sunglasses help keep the bugs out of your eyes and even help protect against the wind while you are on the tour. 
  4. Bug spray

Additional helpful tips and advice for the rail explorers

  • You will need to book ahead for your rail explorer tour. During the busy season, I would even book a few weeks ahead if you can. Pricing varies depending on the day, type of tour, time, type of bike, etc. Check pricing when you book here.
  • Make sure you arrive on time. The guide will do a safety debriefing about 5 minutes before your scheduled departure time. Plan on getting there about 15 minutes early. There is a really nice area to hang out in while you are waiting. 
  • Bring something to eat and drink. I mentioned this a couple of times above, but you will really enjoy having a snack and drink at the turnaround point. You will for sure want to have a cold drink especially if it is a hot day. The kids will also like having something to eat. We picked up Jimmy John’s beforehand and packed it in my favorite insulated tote.
  • Use the restroom. Make sure everyone in your party uses the restroom before getting on the rail bike. There are no bathrooms at the turnaround point so you will not get to use the restroom for two hours.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses. These will not only keep the sun out of your eyes but also protect your eyes from bugs, dust, and wind. I would suggest the kids wear them too!
  • Have some sort of small purse, fanny pack, belt bag, etc. to put your phone in while you are on the rail bike. I wanted to be able to grab my phone very quickly while I was pedaling to take pictures and videos but also wanted it to be safe when I wasn’t using it. Having my lululemon belt bag over my shoulders and in the front of me worked like a charm! 

Experience the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers

Your family will absolutely LOVE riding the Boone, Iowa Rail Explorers. 

It is such an unique and exhilarating experience plus the views are unparalleled.

This experience will be one of the most memorable things you will do with your family. 

SAVE and PIN this post to refer back to it for your rail explorers experience. Also, SHARE this post with family and friends too!

May you love your adventure. KW 

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