Frequently Asked Questions

General

↓ click question to expand answer ↓

What is a Railrider?

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

Where do we buy tickets?

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 you can email us using our contact us form, or to make reservations over the phone please call (541)786-6149 Thursday – Monday 10AM – 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 email /call 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. 🙂

When are you open?

Our season typically runs from May through October. Please see our homepage for dates for the current or upcoming season.

 

Our office is open during main season Thursday – Monday with hours from 7:30 to 8 am, and 10 am –  5 pm. Prior to the third week in May and after Labor day 10 am to 4 pm.

 

Our phone hours are from 10 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.

When is the best time of day to ride?

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.

How strenuous is Railriding?

Valley Sights Round Trip out of Joseph

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 our pedal hybrid electric assist system allows guests of nearly any fitness level to enjoy this tour. At least one adult on the car must be able to move the pedals in order to trigger the motor.

If you are seeking more of a challenge, we can disable our assist system and remove the battery to save weight but you must be sure you will be able maintain a steady return pace of at least 7.5 mph.

 

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 at least 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 maybe even activity levels you may not be used to.

Be sure to pace yourself, and take breaks if you need to, always come prepared for the elements.

What might we see on the trips?

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.

Are trips guided?

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. 

Can our party sit together?

We do our best to seat groups together but it doesn’t always work out that way. You may end up with cars between your party.

It’s important to know that during your trip you will end up with 50 to 100+ yards or more between each Railrider car. 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.

is there a Age / Weight limit?

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 during the day and 2 to 7 at night.

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

 

Weight

Max weight per seat is 300 lbs / 136 kgs.

Max weight per Four Quad Car Railrider is 1000 lbs / 453 kgs.

Our Quad Cars are best suited for groups with families or parties of 3 adults.

How are you cohabiting with Covid-19?

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.

 

Having had a successful and healthy 2020 season (the first year of Covid-19), we look forward to continuing to provide a safe and fun adventure for our guests and crew in the future to come.

When will you not operate?

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

 

  • Temperatures higher than 103 degrees
  • Thunderstorms, any sign of 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

 

Essentially it comes down to ensuring the safety of everyone and making sure your Railriding experience is memorable for all the right reasons.

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

Seating Options

Joseph Trips

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. Or one of our nighttime trip pages.

Minam Trips

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

Waivers

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.

Check-in Procedure

Joseph Round Trips

  • 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!
What should / may we bring?

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 (we can process credit card tips if need be)

 

💡 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. Summer nights are typically always cool.

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.

When should we arrive?

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

Joseph Round Trips  

 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 to until normal check-in time.

Railriding with Children

Children genuinely enjoy Railriding. There is nothing better than 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 / Activities

Prohibited Items

  • Hard sided / foam coolers
  • Animals
  • Sour attitudes
  • Frowns
  • Loud speakers (headphones are fine)

 

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 playing 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

Learn more about each trip option

Policies

Rescheduling, Cancellations, Late Arrivals, Booking Errors, etc

Rescheduling

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

 

Cancellations

For Small Groups (less than 8 guests)

Cancellations must be made at least 24 hours (48 hours for Minam Trips) prior to your trip to receive a refund.

 

For Large Groups (8 or more)

Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours (72 hours for Minam Trips) prior to your trip to receive a refund.

 

Cancellations made inside of these windows will be treated as a same day cancellation and may (upon approval) receive a credit in the form of a gift card minus (-) previously paid booking fees and a 15% cancellation fee. See below for additional same day cancellation rescheduling options.

  

 

Late Arrivals –  Same Day Cancellations – Same Day Changes (Joseph)

We operate on a set schedule and setup our trips for our bookings on hand. Your instructed arrival time allows for check-in, safety orientation, and seat adjustments. We cannot wait, we will leave at our scheduled time. We hate to have be blunt but tardiness has caused us a lot of issues. Same day cancellations / Same Day Trip changes are very costly for our company and will be subject to the same terms as late arrivals.

 

Communication is Key

If you will not make it on time but have contacted us prior to your scheduled arrival time: We will do our best to fit your party onto another departure time during your visit. This rescheduling will result in a 15% surcharge. If we cannot find another time that works, you will receive a gift card in the amount of your booking less previously paid booking fess as well as the addition of a 15% rescheduling fee.

  

 

Late Arrivals  – Same Day Cancellations – Same Day Trip Changes (Minam Trips)

We operate on a set schedule and setup our trips for our bookings on hand. Your instructed arrival time allows for check-in, safety orientation, and seat adjustments. We cannot wait, we will leave at our scheduled time. We hate to have be blunt but tardiness has caused us a lot of issues. Same day cancellations / Same Day Trip changes are very costly for our company and will be subject to the same terms as late arrivals.

 

Communication is key

If you are running late or need to cancel / make a change day of and you contact us prior to your scheduled arrival time: There is no signal in Minam so we cannot notify your guide that you are running behind or won’t be attending. If you don’t make it in time or won’t be attending your options are limited. There is generally only one trip per day. If you miss your trip we can try to reschedule you for another day during your visit if space is available, rescheduling would result in a 15% fee added to your booking. We can also attempt to possibly fit you in on a Valley Sites trip out of Joseph that same day of your trip, there will be no refunds for ticket price differences if you choose to switch to our Valley Sites option. If we cannot find another time that works, you will receive a gift card in the amount of your booking, less previously paid booking fess, as well as the addition of a 15% rescheduling / cancellation fee.

 

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.

  

Booking Errors

If you make a booking error and overbook your trip you will not receive a refund for unused cars/seats. These errors cost our company potential guests who may have wanted to go and couldn’t. Underbooking We do not hold cars aside for walkups. If you underbook for what your party needs there is a likely possibility that we won’t have enough space for everyone to ride. We will not refund the items already booked if this happens.

  

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, late arrivals, and no shows often prevent others who may want to go from having an opportunity to do so, or makes others wait when they shouldn’t have to. 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 we feel necessary. 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.

 

Additional Policy Details

Inclement Weather

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.

 

Inclement Weather Procedures

In the event of poor weather that is expected to change rapidly 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 improve we will be forced to cancel and attempt to reschedule the trip.

 

Weather Refunds

We reserve the right to cancel outings for any reason we deem necessary. 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 are very cautious when it comes to our guest and guide safety. However, if we deicide that we will operate a trip in weather conditions that you don’t want to ride in and you choose to cancel due to these weather conditions you will receive a credit in the form of a gift card. This applies to an at the time of the trip decision. All other cancellations or changes will be subject to our standard terms.

When we will not operate

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

 

  • Temperatures above 103 degrees 
  • Thunderstorms, any sign of 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
  • A combination of these at varying degrees of intensity 

 

Essentially it comes down to ensuring the safety of everyone and making sure your Railriding experience is memorable for all the right reasons.

 

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

Discounts and Special Offers

Please see our Discounts and Special Offers page.

Prohibited items / Activities

Prohibited Items

  • Alcohol
  • Hard sided / foam coolers
  • Animals
  • Sour attitudes
  • Frowns
  • Loud speakers (headphones are fine)

 

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 (we traverse high fire risk areas on all of our trips)
  • No Alcohol or Drug Use
  • No playing 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.

Animals

In accordance with the Wallowa County Railroad Authority rules as well as those set forth by our insurance carrier, 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

Privacy

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

Do we wear helmets?

No, we no longer require helmets.

Any images or videos with helmets are from our early years pre 2016.

We do require that you wear a lap seat belt.

Are the cars connected together?

No they are not.

Every unit is separate from the rest.

 

We can connect family units together (two cars max) in Joseph only, and only for the downhill portion of the trip.

This will only be done by requests that are made at the time of the trip.

Are there trains we have to worry about?

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.

Is this an engine propelled train ride?

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.