Revolution Rail is an exciting and new outdoor adventure in Cape May New Jersey, where you pedal custom designed rail cars and ride on train tracks!
Update 2022: This article was written in 2021 but we recently reshared to our Facebook page for the new season. Some aspects may have changed for 2022 so be sure to check the website. Also a reader pointed out there are height and weight restrictions. Again check with Revolution Rail if any concerns.
They had a trial run in December 2020 which was very successful, and are back now for their second full season! The ride and tour also includes the Garrett Family Preserve. Photo tour below and check out the experience video!
This experience requires RESERVATIONS.
YouTube Video Tour of the Experience is at the bottom of this article!
Revolution Rail Location
The experience itself is awesome enough as it is… but they top it by having an amazing location for the ride’s start and finish.
They are located at 609 Lafayette Street in Cape May, at the Cape May train station, which is across from the ACME Supermarket and just one block from the very popular Washington Street Walk.
In the same immediate block are Prawn, Big Wave Burritos, and the Oyster Bay Restaurant and Bar. Literally all three are just 50 feet away! Elaine’s is just a block down Lafayette… and of course the Washington Street Mall is loaded with exciting restaurants and shops and is also just a block away!
The Cape May station is no longer used for trains… so Revolution Rail has the tracks to themselves. Also located in the attractive building is the Cape May Welcome Center.
Revolution Rail Details
The Revolution Rail Company is based out of New York, where they run two rail courses in the Adirondack area. The popularity of those two runs lead them to expand into Cape May!
In Cape May, the rail ride is 4 miles in total.. two miles straight out, and two miles back.
The staff have an ingenious system for turning the cars around at the end, for the ride back… don’t worry, they rotate the rail cars for you!
The full trip takes about 90 minutes, including a few stops and 15-20 minutes at the Garrett Family Preserve.
We saw young children riding the rail cars! They have 4-seater models and we saw a family of 4 with very young children… put the two kids in front and Mom and Dad in the back… and the parents were able to power the railcar.
Honestly, a reasonably healthy adult could probably power one of the cars alone, with a child in the second seat of the two-seat car. But check with Revolution Rail for questions.
The cars are sturdy, safe.. but incredibly light weight as they seem to be made of strong but light aluminum. The flat terrain and precision pedal chain makes it very easy to move the car forward.
Seriously.. my wife pedaled most of the route! If she could pedal my big ol’ self for miles… then it has to be an easy ride!
Cars come in two-seater and four-seater models. Safety features include seatbelts for all passengers, a breaking system.. and rubberized contact bumpers (which should never really come into play).
Probably a good time to clarify… reservations are required! There are limited number of cars, and they have set times for the trips… so it’s like buying a theater ticket.. that spot is reserved for you!
The reservation process was very easy and done all online. The website has a calendar which presents available times and car availability
For the spring they have been running weekends only, but they tour guide stated that starting in June they will be running 7 days a week!
You start off right from the station… of course!
At the beginning is the only road you have to cross, and the staff will hold traffic as the rail cars pass through.
From that point on.. well there are a couple cross-over access roads.. but it’s really just the you on the pedal powered rail cars, the track… and Mother Nature!
The track is mostly straight. There is a slight bend in the beginning. You have to remember the tracks were laid to massive locomotives that aren’t really great at turning… so it as always best to keep as straight as possible.
That being said…. there is a lot to see along the way, as you pedal the whole time!
Oh a little more about the pedaling. I found it so easy to pedal the cars, I really was tricked into thinking something else was in play.
“We must be going downhill!”. Nope, it was just as easy going out as it was going back.
Each rider has pedals to power the car forward, but they are geared in a way that anyone can stop and start their own pedaling without affecting the other riders… and I realized that I really wasn’t pedaling all the much. My wife was doing most of it!
So back to the ride….
One of the first really cool things you’ll see is the rail bridge.. a small but sturdy bridge that is big enough just for the tracks, and it crosses over a marshland creek.
Off to the right (on the way out) you’ll see an area where they State is working to regrow marsh grass that was destroyed in one of the hurricanes that battered the New Jersey coast.
You’ll pass a variety of railroad signaling equipment that hasn’t been used in years!
Green Acres land is along the way.
A winery grape field is passed on the left, as well as a large marsh lake.
In the middle of the run is the Garret Family Preserve.. which you’ll visit on the way back.
There are three long abandoned rail cars on the tracks… more like works of art than they are for moving things.
And at the end of the 2 mile ride out is the Cape May Canal and the swing bridge.
Unfortunately the bridge is left in the open position, to make it easier for boaters… and hasn’t closed in almost 10 years…. which defines the end of the run.
There is a walking trail down to the Canal edge.
And while not shown in the video, there is a large area where sand dredge fill is dumped… I missed it on camera but my wife said it was an amazing “moon-like landscape”!
And at several key areas along the way, the rail cars are stopped and the tour guide will tell stories of the railroads, the tracks and the area.
Our key guide Tom did an amazing job of captivating the riders with his stories and his comfortable “chatting with a friend at the bar” style of presentation.
We really learned a lot of interesting details, from how the Canal and switch bridge were made, the train loop which was needed to turn the locomotives around… to the background of the Garrett Family Preserve.
Garrett Family Preserve
National Geographic lists Cape May as the world’s best destination for bird watching!
And the Garrett Family Preserve is a big part of that continued success… the success of maintaining natural habitats for migrating birds, butterflies and more.
The natural peninsula of Cape May and the large bay below it… triggers all forms of Mother Nature’s flying kingdom to choose Cape May as a resting place.
A 2014 Cape May Herald article describes how the Garrett Family vacationed in a nearby cottage, and donated to the National Conservancy, which made the Garrett Family Preserve come to be.
Our tour guide Tom explained a lot of details about the Preserve, the importance it and the area play to migrating birds and butterflies… and even other insects!
In fact, the Audubon Society’s World Series of Birding was just held in this area!
The preserve totals 180 acres and features several trails and educational features, including informative signage and even an insect hotel!
For the rail car tour we only had 15 minutes to walk the grounds, so we were directed to stick with the Yellow trail. As the video shows, we had time to walk a small loop and see the gazebo also.
You can visit the Preserve independent of the rail car ride, and it’s for free. There is a parking lot on the premises.
Check out their page at the Nature Conservancy website for details on visiting, and the best times to visit!
Depending on how for you walk in the preserve, you might want to consider bug and tick spray.
Heading Back To The Station
The rail car ride continues on for the final mile or so, and we head back over that bridge I mentioned previously.
I haven’t mentioned yet, but twice the other guides stopped us (in the cars) to take our photos… and the bridge over water was one of the stops.
Unlike that classic theme park move where they show you the photos at the end and charge you to have them.. .Revolution Rail simply ads their logo on the bottom and uploads them to Flickr… where you can download, share and print… FOR FREE!
In fact the featured photo at the top of this article… is from the Revolution Rail photographer! (it really captures the essence of the experience!)
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner?
The Revolution Rail Car ride has ended… and while I definitely am suffering from being out of shape from sitting around too much during Covid.. I feel… absolutely fine!
So I mentioned this in the beginning, and I cover it in the video also.. but make sure to allocate time before or after your scheduled time to check out all of the awesome shops and restaurants in the immediate area.
No need to get back into your car… there are so many options just 5 mins walking distance! Plus really interesting shops!
Links, Location and VIDEO!
Revolution Rail – Cape May
609 Lafayette Street
Cape May New Jersey
Reservations Must Be Made in Advance!
Parking: There is a gravel parking lot on site, which is paid for with the inexpensive Park Mobile app. (We had an early time on a cool day, so the lot was empty when we pulled in. Other days and times, your experience may differ)
Parking lot onsite, if you visit outside of the tour.