Two different types of accomodation are offered by the Grand Canyon Railway on their Williams to Grand Canyon trains: standard coach and first class.
Standard Coach includes older-style cushioned seats, narrated information about the trip to the Grand Canyon, information on what to do there, a little musical entertainment, and publications that are helpful in guiding you through the most popular visitor's location at the Grand Canyon.
First Class includes access to Vista Dome cars (they're kinda neat, but this isn't really the best country through which to operate them), and certain refreshments on the train. Seats are far more comfortable, and each of the first class cars are unique in design and decoration.
Certain special trains may use the much older equipment that is not air conditioned and has windows that open. For example, these are used on some of the trains pulled with the steam locomotives. However, those are not the standard equipment used on most of the trains.
The trip from Williams to Grand Canyon Village takes a bit over 2 hours, and is slightly under 70 miles. Two trains per day operate during the peak season, but most of the time there is only one round trip per day. If you try to make the trip in a day, you will miss a lot of stuff at the canyon, because there are only 3 hours to enjoy the canyon. Your best bet would be to spend the night at the canyon, at the very least. If you plan to do a trip into the canyon or white water raft trip or any of the other various items around the canyon, you are going to wind up spending more than a day there anyway.
Standard round trip tickets are $70, with first class tickets being $140.
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!
Operating completely off of donations, the small museum and visitor's center does provide some interesting historical artifacts from the town of Williams. The building used to be the railway freight depot for the city, and the old scale system is still in place and fairly intact. You will also find the "last stop on the road to Los Angeles" - the last traffic light going west on historic Route 66.
Local natural information is included as well, and you will find a stuffed example of the local squirrel population. While fairly common, these unique animals have huge ear tufts that are certainly quite different than any other similar animal I have seen in North America. However, they move fast through the forest, and therefore was never able to get a good look at one of them until I saw the museum's example.
Considerable local and regional information, from guide books to more simple publications, are available in the book store / visitor's information center part of the facility.
I can't tell you that much about the City of Williams trail system, other than it is mentioned briefly in a few publications. The only such trail I was able to find was this one, and I am very glad that I was able to find it!
Most of the city of Williams itself is fairly easily walkable, due to the short distances and relatively little auto traffic (during the peak tourist season there is a bit more auto traffic, but most of it is located between downtown and the freeway, rather than in the rest of the town). Therefore, to access this trail, you really don't even need a car to drive around in.
From Sheridan Avenue, the trail goes through some scrub forest up into the hills above town, and eventually connects with trails going through the national forest. There are several alternative routes that could be taken once you arrive at the up hill end of the trail, including a loop around a small hill, a route to a fire lookout above town, and a route to a spring or a lake.
As you go up the hill on the trail, you will come to a gate that appears to have no particular reason to exist, as there is no fence on either side of the gate that connects to it. At this gate, do not continue up the hill past the gate, but continue on the trail that goes downhill slightly from the gate. This will then meet up with trails at a signed intersection.
It is still possible to get to the forest service trails if you follow the route on the other side of the gate, but it is harder to find your way as the trail routes are not marked past the gate - it is a maintenance route for the natural gas pipeline only past that point.
You will find several guide books and other sources of information that mention there is a railway museum in Williams. This museum is currently not operating, and the space that was formerly occupied by the museum exhibits has been converted to other purposes.
There are apprently plans for the museum to get its own building, should they ever have enough money to do so.
In the meantime, there are a few interesting pieces of equipment on display around the Grand Canyon Railway's station. However, they currently lack any sort of interpretive information.
Catch a ride on one of a couple horse and buggy's that make continual routes around Williams. It's only $5 per person and the driver will give you an intimate look at this old Route 66 community. It's a nice way to wind down for the evening.
There are a few surviving old buildings scattered through Williams. Most of these are small commercial buildings along what is now Historic Highway Route 66, but there are a few interesting old residential buildings scattered around as well.
If you are considering Williams as a base for a day out at The Grand Canyon it would definitely be worth looking at the option of staying a couple of nights and taking the Grand Canyon Railway for your trip.
I didn't actually do this but it certainly looks like a way to enhance your visit (not that The Canyon needs embellishment) and with prices starting from $60 return, with various luxury options including the Parlor at $155, needn't be a hugely expensive way to go.
"This is really annoying. I would just love to travel the Grand Canyon railway from here to the south rim. Especially if they have a proper steam train on today"
"Well it's not that far"
"It is by train, it takes a good two and a half hours to chug there in the morning, three and a half hours there and then back in the late afternoon"
"I would love to, and at about 50 dollars, I think it is good value, all the carriages are from the 1930's as well"
"Another time then"
'Yes dear, although we can at least have a look around the depot here in Williams"
All Aboard! The Grand Canyon Train is a fun, unique way to get to the Grand Canyon and back while enjoying some interesting scenery. For a round-trip coach ticket, including Grand Canyon Park Pass, it is about $75 American.
Board the train in Williams, Arizona and prepare for not only some amazing scenery, but shows as well. It is a fact known amongst the scoundrels, villains and desperadoes in the area that Grand Canyon Railway travels to the Grand Canyon loaded with wealthy tourists from all around the world. Due to the strict schedule which the train maintains, it becomes an easy target for bandits. This is where Marshal John B. Goodmore - the B stands for "B" good or "B" gone - comes into the picture. He has been hired by the railway to ensure that visitors return from their train journey with valuables intact.
Every morning at 9:30, the Marshal squares off with the Cataract Creek Gang, a group of lowly desperadoes. Be sure to catch the outcome when you visit the Railway. And be sure to keep your eyes open. The Cataract Creek Gang has been know to try and rob the train from time to time.
Expect to also see wild horses and huge herds of cattle passing the train by. The train is a little bit of a rough, but safe and comfortable journey. Musicians wander about the cars on the train, taking your cowboy campfire requests and appreciate the monetary tips ($1-$2 optional) after the songs!
Get to the train station in plenty of time to park, visit the gift shop, and pick up your tickets and find your train car if you haven't done so already. Each way should take between one and a half, to two hours if I recall correctly. Enjoy!
If you would like to get the train to the Grand Canyon you must go to the depot in Williams. The train departs daily at 10 AM and returns to Williams at approximately 6 PM. You must get to the train depot by 9 AM in order to get your tickets and see a show.
While on board you will be entertained by musicians and train robbers dressed up by cowboys. There are various prices for the train, ranging from economy about 60 dollars to first class expensive. Look out for coupons for 20% off the economy fare.
Take several dollar notes as all the entertainment people expect tips.
The train journey will take approximately 2 hrs and then you get about 3 hrs at the canyon. Yes it is quicker to drive there.
I would recommend this trip if you have been to the canyon many times and would like a different journey. Also recommend this trip if you enjoy country and western songs.
ONE DAY TRAIN TRIP
Duration: approximately 7 hours 45 minutes
Departs: 10:00 a.m. from Williams, Arizona
The trip begins at the historic 1908 Williams Depot.
A vintage steam engine pulls the train from Memorial Day through September 30. (A vintage diesel engine does the job the remainder of the year.) Uniformed coach attendants provide you with white-gloved courtesy and service. Aboard the train, enjoy the tunes of strolling musicians who conduct sing-a-longs, an old west train robbery and the antics of western characters as they recreate train travel as it was in 1901.
The train arrives at the historic 1910 Grand Canyon Depot. It is among three remaining log depots still in operation in the United States. Buildings like the El Tovar Hotel, Hopi House and Bright Angel Lodge salute arriving guests as they pull into the station and disembark from the train. Guests have over three hours to explore the most distinctive chasm in the world.
This unique experience includes:
· Vintage train service via Grand Canyon Railways
· Old West entertainment
Class Adult (per person) Child (per child)
Coach $58.00 $25.00
Club $79.00 $46.00
First $116.00 $83.00
Observation $137.00 $104.00
Luxury $147.00 $114.00
Applicable tax and National Park Service entry fee not included.Children's fares applicable to 16 and under.
Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon you may participate in a narrated motor coach rim tour to the most scenic overlooks of the canyon to enhance your visit. Guests are escorted to vistas like Mojave Point, Pima Point, the Abyss and Hermits Rest. The rim tours include lunch.
Tour Adult (per person) Child (per child)
Grand $36.00 $27.00
Special $31.00 $21.00
Freedom $21.00 $16.00
Tours are subject to availability.
To better serve you it is best to make reservations by calling or emailing us at the Grand Canyon Tour Company.
This tour package is available from Las Vegas. The round trip bus fare is in addition to the train fares above - $179.00 per person.