Frequently Asked Questions

General

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A Railrider is a 4 wheeled rail bike. It is designed to be lightweight, comfortable, and easy to operate.

 

The best and most convenient place is here on our website. It’s secure, fast, has real time availability, and you can do it at your leisure.

 Find the activity you'd like to book and follow the "Book" links.

 

Same Day Availability

To check same day availability or to make reservations over the phone please call (541)786-6149 Thursday - Monday 9AM - 5PM.

 

Minam tickets must be booked at least 36 hours in advance.

Note however, a time slot within our 36 hour cutoff may have seats available even though it says "full".
Please call / email to find out, we might be able to fit you in.

 

*Please note that we proudly employ local working parents and encourage them to work from home with their children when possible. So if you hear a crying child in the background that’s the way it’s supposed to be here at Joseph Branch Railriders. 🙂

Our 2020 Season will run from May 22nd until October 24th.

 

Our 2021 Season will begin May 5th.

 

Our office is open during main season Thursday - Monday with hours from 7:15 to 8 am, and 10 am -  5 pm. After Labor day 10 am to 4 pm.

 

Our phone hours are from 9 am -5 pm. 541-786-6149

If you call and don't reach us please leave a voicemail so we may have an opportunity to assist you.

The best time of day to ride all depends on you and your group and the temperatures and amounts of sun you enjoy.

During the slower parts of the season we will cut our times down to two per day.

  

8 am 

Typically one of the cooler rides of the day, it will offer some shaded areas to take brief breaks if needed. This time may have some more wildlife than others due to cooler temperatures. During the rainy season this time could be more wet than others.

 

11 am

This ride will typically be warm with nearly full sun most parts of the season. It's a great time to go but you'll need to come prepared for sun exposure.

 

2 pm

On paper the weather station might say it'll be a few degrees warmer than our 11 am trip. Actually this trip typically offers up some shaded areas for brief breaks and our summer breeze usually kicks up during this trip making for an enjoyable time to ride.

 

5 pm

In the past it was a rare event to ride this late in the day but there is good reason for why we added this option into our permanent 2020 schedule. This time can be very special. You'll experience cooler temperatures as the sun makes its way toward the horizon. It's a great time for photography as the lighting changes creating dramatic shadows and shoots of sunlight. It can be a good time to spot wildlife as things cool down. However during the rainy season this time may be more wet than others.

 

Please Note: To help condense our trips. All of our departure times may not be available every day.

Joseph Round Trip

This is the trip for nearly everyone, especially families with children. This trip has the "steepest" average uphill of all of our trips at a mild 1.5% grade.

However we offer an optional pedal hybrid electric assist system allowing guests of nearly any fitness level to enjoy this tour.

If you are seeking more of a challenge, our assist system is optional and the trip can be completed by most guests without using it.

 

Our Minam Round Trips

These trips are longer but that doesn't mean they are difficult. These trips feature a gentle mixed grade of about 1%.

Due to the relaxed gradual grade and bits of relief both coming and going all units on our Minam Trips are pedal powered only.

These trips are not difficult but typically guests with an average fitness level enjoy these tours most.

For example: If you and your group would enjoy adventuring on a gentle yet invigorating hike you will love these trips.

 

💡 Tips for a fun trip

Our trips are designed to be enjoyed by the general public. However you will at some degree be exerting energy at both physical elevations and activity levels you may not be used to.

Be sure to pace yourself, take breaks if you need to, use assist if needed/available, and come prepared for the elements.

Joseph Round Trip

This trip ventures through the expansive Wallowa Valley. Common wildlife sightings include:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Mule deer
  • Magpie, quail, killdeer, red-wing blackbird, and many other bird species
  • Marmot, skunk, and other varmint
  • Osprey, eagles, hawks, falcons, and other birds of prey
  • Red fox
  • Cows, horses, sheep, llama, peacock
  • and more

Also look for hidden signs along the tracks of days gone by. Like areas where there used to be loading platforms and track side buildings.

 

Minam Round Trips

Traversing through the lower canyons its common to see a wide variety of wildlife such as:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Elk
  • Mule deer
  • Magpie, quail, red-wing blackbird, and many other bird species
  • Marmot, skunk, and other varmint
  • Osprey, eagles (both bald and golden), hawks, falcons, and other birds of prey
  • Red fox
  • Cows, horses
  • Snakes (including rattlesnakes)
  • and more

On our Minam to Rondowa Trip be on the lookout for signs of old settlements with clues like apple tree groves and crumbling foundations.

 

💡 Tips for a fun trip

Keep your eyes peeled for some of the masters of camouflage we have along our routes, look in the tall grasses and near water crossings.

All Railriding trips are accompanied by a Crew member.

Our Crew are in place to help adjust seats, make sure everyone knows the safety information, and to help everyone have a great trip. 

Due to the nature of our attraction your Crew member will have little opportunity to act as a tour guide during the trip in the traditional sense of the term. 

We do our best to seat groups together but it doesn't always work out that way.

It's imporant to know that during your trip you will end up with 50 to 100+ yards between Railrider cars. This makes it pretty tricky to visit with guests on other cars.

 

You'll have plenty of time at the midpoint and end of the ride to catch up and share your experiences from the trip.

 

It is possible that we may need to reorder cars at our midpoint which may cause groups to be mixed up.

This is an unavoidable circumstance of a one-way rail and guests with different pacing needs.

Age

Guests of any age may ride the Railriders. We've had everyone from infants in chest carriers to guests in their nineties.

Children typically need to be age 8+ to properly reach the pedals. Jump Seats are a great option for guests ages 1 to 7.

Review our Jump Seat and Four Seat Railrider information for great options for guests with little ones.

 

Weight

Max weight per seat is 300 lbs / 136 kgs.

Max weight per Four Seat Railrider is 800 lbs / 362 kgs.

Our Four Seat cars are best suited for groups with families or parties of 3 adults.

We will be following the state of Oregon's guidelines for business operation. Our new normal will take some getting used to for everyone.

You will see our staff wearing masks and we will be implementing several additional procedures to promote social distancing with our attraction.

 

By design we offer an away from it all adventure. We take your safety very seriously and we will be taking many steps to protect our guests.

We will be limiting the number of guests in our depot / souvenir shop at any given time.

We will make sure we spread out during our briefing.

We will be disinfecting our equipment and restrooms between trips.

 

We look forward to providing a safe and fun adventure for our guests and crew.

We generally are able to operate in most conditions with the exception of the following:

 

  • Thunderstorms, any sign of localized lighting
  • Heavy rain (not very enjoyable and we loose traction)
  • Wet conditions in weather colder that 45 degrees (not enjoyable)
  • Heavy fog
  • Smokey conditions where the air quality index is above 150: Unhealthy level or higher
  • Extreme winds or dust storms

Please refer to our Policies page for weather related cancellation details and more.

    Seating Options

    Generally our Joseph Trips are booked by Railrider Car type. There are a couple options for young children and single riders.

    For more details please visit the Valley Sights - Joseph to Enterprise Round Trip page.

    All Minam Round Trip units are Two Seat Railriders.

     

    • Both seats have the ability to pedal.
    • Pedaling is freewheel style, each side pedals independently .
    • You may rest while the other person pedals if needed.
    • Our Minam trips can be pedaled by a single guest.

    Your guide typically pedals by themselves. If you are by yourself your guide would be happy to pedal with you to share the work and make the trip more enjoyable all around.

    Trip Preparation

    All guests are required to complete a waiver prior to participating in our activities.

    You will be able to digitally sign your waiver after booking online. Follow the link in your confirmation email.

     

    Please help us expedite the check-in process by ensuring that all members of your party have signed their digital waiver prior to arrival.

     

    If you purchase tickets on site or have not signed ahead of time you will either digitally sign your waiver in the office or a paper copy if departing from Minam.

    Joseph Round Trip

    • Arrive on time (in Joseph)
    • Visit restroom if needed
    • Provide your name to crew member
    • Sign digital waiver if you did not sign online 
    • Listen to safety briefing
    • Get seat adjusted
    • Load your gear
    • Have fun!

    Minam Round Trips

    • Arrive on time (in Minam)
    • Visit restroom if needed
    • Provide your name to crew member
    • Sign paper waiver if you did not sign online 
    • Listen to safety briefing
    • Get seat adjusted
    • Load your gear
    • Have fun!

    Storage is limited but there is room for some essentials. *the more you bring the more you pedal

     

    Essentials you should bring

    • Water / Sports Drink (every seat has at least one cup holder that will fit a standard 20 ounce water bottle)
    • Weather Protection (sun hat, sunscreen, rain gear, jacket, etc.) Please research your riding conditions so you come prepared
    • Picture Taking Apparatus (Camera, cellphone, goPro, whatever you have there's a lot to capture)

    We offer drinks and snacks for sale at our Joseph departure site at reasonable rates.

     

    Nice things to have

    • Binoculars
    • Small snacks
    • Small soft sided cooler
    • Smiles
    • Fun stories
    • Cash/card for souvenirs
    • A treat for your guide

    Tips for a fun trip
    It can still be quite cool here in Wallowa County in May and June and once September comes around it starts again so a jacket or windbreaker may be helpful.

     

    We strongly urge the use of sun protection. The air is very clean here and we’re closer to the sun than you might be used to so take this sun protection tip to heart.

    Even the shortest amount of time out without protection can lead to a quick sunburn.

    Always refer to your booking instructions, but generally the following guidelines will apply.

     

    Joseph Round Trip  

     Have you booked ahead? Arrive 20-30 minutes prior to your start time.

    If you need to purchase tickets or sign waivers arrive 30 minutes early. 

     

    Our Minam Round Trips

    Arrive 10 minutes prior to your start time.

     

    If you'd like to visit early please understand that there is work for us to do between trips and we may not be able devote the proper attention we'd like until normal check-in time.

    Children genuinely enjoy Railriding. There is nothing like seeing those giant smiling faces.

    Here are some important tips, and reminders if you are bringing little ones along.

     

    Children ages 8 and up can usually reach the pedals. 

     

    Children 7 and under enjoy Railriding best as a passenger.

     

    Infants up to age 1 must be in their own car seat strapped into a General Child Seat. They're car seat cannot be strapped into or used on a Jump Seat.

     

    A Pair of Children age 13 and up may use their own Railrider car but they cannot be the responsible party for younger passengers.

    Prohibited Items

    • Hard sided / foam coolers
    • Animals
    • Sour attitudes
    • Frowns

    Prohibited Activities

    The following activities are strictly prohibited on all Railriding grounds including our parking areas, restrooms, and anywhere along the trips.

    • No Smoking/Vaping 
    • No Alcohol or Drug Use
    • No Speakers or Loud Music
    • Please try to keep profanity in check

    Railriding is a family friendly activity and these restrictions are in place for guest safety, the safety of the environments we explore, and to ensure all guests enjoy themselves in a fun, safe, and welcoming environment.

    Trip Specific Questions

    For trip specific questions please visit the trip detail page of the trip you are interested in.

    Valley Sights - Joseph to Enterprise Round Trip

    River Escape - Minam to Rondowa Round Trip

    Canyon Twist - Minam to Wallowa Round Trip

    Policies

    Rescheduling

    Booking changes must be made at least 48 hours prior to your trip or your booking will remain as booked.

     

    Cancellations

    For Small Groups (less than 10)

    Cancellations must be made at least 24 hours prior to your trip to receive a refund.

     

    For Large Groups (10 or more guests)

    Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours prior to your trip to receive a refund.

     

    Any approved cancellations made inside of these windows will receive a credit in the form of a gift card for future use.

     

    Late Arrivals

    Like a train, we run on a set schedule. Your instructed arrival time allows for check-in, safety orientation, and seat adjustments. We cannot wait, we will leave at our scheduled time.

     

    If you miss your trip because you arrive late but reached out to us ahead of time:

    We'll do our best to fit your party onto another departure time for the same day.

    If this isn't feasible you will forfeit your tickets and will not receive a refund.

     

    No-Call No-Show

    If you simply do not show up by the time your trip departs or at all you are

    NOT ELIGIBLE for a refund.

     

    Extenuating Circumstances

    We are a family run human company, extenuating circumstances will be addressed on a case by case basis.

     

    We understand there is sometimes a need to cancel or adjust bookings, that's life, but things like same day cancellations and no shows often prevent others who may want to go from having an opportunity to do so. We try to keep our policies fair but we also strive to limit these occurrences as much as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

     

    We reserve the right to cancel outings for any reason. If this happens we will make every effort to work with you to find an alternative time or date for you to enjoy Railriding. If we cannot make that happen we will issue a full refund.

    We will operate in light rain. We have had many fun trips on days with predicted rains. The weather changes rapidly and much of the predicted precipitation tends to stick to the mountains.

     

    When we won't operate

    We will not operate in heavy rain, signs of lightning, wet conditions with temps below 45 degrees, heavy fog / smoke, air quality index above 150, and extreme wind

     

    Inclement Weather Procedures

    In the event of foul weather we will start with a 15 minute delay and continue with delays in 15 minute intervals up to one hour until it clears. If it does't clear we will be forced to cancel and attempt to reschedule the trip.

     

    Weather Refunds

    We reserve the right to cancel outings for any reason. If this happens we will make every effort to work with you to find an alternative time or date for you to enjoy Railriding. If we cannot make that happen we will issue a full refund.

    Please see our Discounts and Special Offers page.

    Prohibited Items

    • Hard sided / foam coolers
    • Animals
    • Sour attitudes
    • Frowns

    Prohibited Activities

    The following activities are strictly prohibited on all Railriding grounds including our parking areas, restrooms, and anywhere along the trips.

    • No Smoking/Vaping 
    • No Alcohol or Drug Use
    • No Speakers or Loud Music
    • Please try to keep profanity in check

    Railriding is a family friendly activity and these restrictions are in place for guest safety, the safety of the environments we explore, and to ensure all guests enjoy themselves in a fun, safe, and welcoming environment.

    In accordance with the Wallowa County Railroad Authority rules we do not allow animals of any kind on our trips.

     

    Our pets are family too and we wish they could go but it's just not a safe activity for animals.

     

    Local Pet Boarding

    Our privacy policy is simple.

     

    We never, ever, share your information beyond our company JO Tours, LLC which includes dba Joseph Branch Railriders.

     

    We are fully PCI compliant and all online transactions are conducted over secure servers.

    Your trust is as important to us as your smile. We look forward to serving you.

    Common Confusions

    No, we no longer require helmets.
    Any images or videos with helmets are from our early years.

    We do however require that you wear a lap seat belt.

    No they are not.

    Every unit is separate from the rest.

    We cannot connect units together.

    The portion of railroad track that we lease is inactive. You do not have to worry about seeing a train coming around the bend.

     

    The only real hazard we need to worry about is safely crossing our road crossings.

    The traffic has the right-of-way so we must take them seriously and come to a complete stop at every crossing.

    No, everything we do is pedal powered.

    Even the use of electric assist is strictly a hybrid system, it makes pedaling easier but is not throttle controlled and requires pedaling to operate.