By Train, Grand Canyon National Park
Grand CAnyon RR comes form and returns to Williams Arizona, about 60 miles south. It takes over 200,000 passengers to the park south rim only annually. It was one of the first rides into the park for original visitors, and the only way to get here, other than walk or long horse rides. It began in 1901, and continued until 1968, when closed due to renovations was cost prohibitive. In 1989, a group headed by Max Biegert spent $2 million and revived the train cars and the tracks.
Cost for coach is $140, first class $310, and dome ride $340. They also have a polar express in winter to see Santa, a must do for those kids.
Grand Canyon Railroad from Williams (Hwy 40) to Grand Canyon village. I was on a day tour instead and took the east entrance from Hwy 89 (good way to go), but if you want to take the train, its a good ride.
Maybe the most eye-catching building in the Historic District of the Grand Canyon National Park is the Grand Canyon Depot. We parked the car next to the railway station and found out that it's one of the better places to park if you are just visiting for one or two days.
We did hear from some visitors who did so that the train drive from Williams to the gRand Canyon wasvery nice. Maybe you should do so.
If you're lucky enough (we weren't) you may even get to see the rebuilt engine number 18 of the Grand Canyon Railway at the station. For us the Depot was just the start of a visit to a place which beauty and size humbled us.
I think next time I go to the Grand Canyon, I will take the train into the park, from Williams. Williams is about an hour south of the Park Entrance and a great little town to stay in for Canyon visits.
Trains depart in the summer at 9 am and 10:30 am. The rest of the year, departures are at 10:00 am. The route provides travelers with 65 miles of beautiful views. It arrives in the Grand Canyon (a 2 hour journey) right in front of the Bright Angel Lodge. From there it's very simple to take park shuttles everywhere within the park.
I have already written a bit about the Grand Canyon Railway under the "Things to Do in Williams" category. It is really a transportation service from Williams to the Grand Canyon, and therefore is really more of a Williams thing to do rather than a Grand Canyon item.
However, as their destination is the Grand Canyon itself, and the parking is a huge pain at the South Rim, and once you arrive by train transportation isn't much of a problem around the south rim due to the free shuttle bus service, and finding a place to park in Williams really isn't much of a problem, this may be the way to go for many visitors.
As far as scenery along the route goes, while there is some forest and hills in places, much of the route is through some fairly flat and fairly uninteresting scenery.
For those seeking more information on the services offered by the Grand Canyon Railway, please see my Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona tip. There you will find photographs and a more detailed description.
A Few Photos:
1: Grand Canyon Railway station at the Grand Canyon
2: Getting off the train at the Grand Canyon Railway station at the Grand Canyon end of the line.
3: View out window of the Grand Canyon Railway train, in fairly hilly terrain.
4: Much of the scenery along the Grand Canyon Railway looks like this: flat and fairly uninteresting. You may see some wild animals such as antelope here.
5: Grand Canyon Railway train sitting at station at Grand Canyon end of the line.
6: Steam is almost entirely gone from the Grand Canyon Railway, but from time to time certain steam locomotive specials are operated. Usually, they do not go all the way to the Canyon.
7: Typical First Class coach accomodations on the Grand Canyon Railway
8: Typical open window style coach. These are almost never used today for regular excursion trains, as they do not have air conditioning.
9: Typical power on the front of a Grand Canyon Railway train is an ex-Amtrak F40PH. They are squared off utilitarian locomotives, but they do get the job done, and most tourists don't care what pulles the train anyway.
10: Typical Grand Canyon Railway coach accomodations. The seats do not recline, but its OK for the two hour trip to the Canyon for most people.
11: Typical Grand Canyon Railway lounge car with bar and other luxuries. There is a reason why First Class costs more!
I saw an RV show on TV this week about visiting the Grand Canyon. They recommended parking the RV in an RV park in Williams AZ, and taking the Grand Canyon Train up to the Grand Canyon National Park. The train leaves Williams at 10 a.m. and takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. It leaves the Grand Canyon at 3:15 and returns to Williams by 5:45 p.m.
The website says:
Fastidiously restored 1923 Harriman-style (round-roofed) Pullman car with reversible seats, allowing guests to face one another with seating for up to 88 people. The cars feature large windows that open for unobscured views and fresh air, ceiling fans, and heat in cooler months. Complimentary soft drinks are served during the journey.
One problem I can see with this is that you would only see the canyon in the middle of the day and the light is much better (both for seeing and photographing) in the early morning and at sunset.
It is also pretty expensive
One Way Rate: $67.77
Internet booking saves $5.00 = $62.77
This rate includes all taxes, fees, and one way train fare. Child fares apply to those ages 2 to 16; under 2 ride in an adult's lap for free
They do have an overnight option for $222.58 which includes all train tax, hotel tax, food tax, fees, round-trip train fare, admission to Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon shuttle bus transportation, hotel room, and breakfast and dinner for each guest
I don't have a picture of the Grand Canyon Train, but I do have one from the train park in Kingman AZ.