You can go to the Grand Canyon by scenic train ride from Williams.
Near the station at Williams is a nice hotel with a rustic feel at the lobby- called the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. It has the Spenser's Lounge which also features a bar from 19th-century England! But just keep that hotel in mind, and let's go back to that train ride...
You can drive up I-17N and then 40W to Williams to go for this train ride operated by the Grand Canyon Railway. My wife and I did the trip during the wintertime and unfortunately, snow ruined the glass top view of the train (observation dome).
But I hear that during the summer, it can be really scenic. The whole trip takes about 2 hours and fifteen minutes each way. And on first class, you can be given champagne! The train is old, original and very nostalgic. Typically, if the train departs at 10 AM, it arrives at 1215 PM at GC, and then leaves GC at 4 PM and then arrives in Williams at 615 PM. Check for schedules since they vary throughout the year, but generally have two daily departures at busy times.
For kids each winter, there is the Polar Express to the "North Pole" where the Grand Canyon Railway creates a magical train, serving cookies and hot choco and staging special appearances from Santa! During wintertime, this is a better option than driving to the Grand Canyon which can have slippery icy roads (and you also save gas).
Arizona has a rich history of gold prospectors...and now you can share in the fun! The Superstition Mountain Treasure Hunters do provide free gold panning lessons and a learning center.
You can watch videos and see how the professionals do it. Pick up their monthly Newsletter listing the activities schedule for club meetings, fabulous guest speakers, classes, field trips and treasure hunts. Swap tall tales and see real gold and treasure.
Their website even says "Hold a real gold nugget and discover how to find your own!"
At $900 an ounce, that would be great if you really find gold! But I think the club is really more for friendship rather than actual money-searching...
It has even been said that some gold nuggets that were found may actually be linked to the Lost Dutchman's Fortune!!!
In the winter, most "official" hiking mountains in Phoenix are packed, with long waits for parking and crowded trails (especially Camelback and Squaw Peak). But there is one official trail that is only used by locals and that has beautiful views... Lookout mountain, in North Phoenix.
The trail to the top is just under a mile, and it is a quick, strenuous trip up. At the top you will be rewarded by a beautiful 360 degree view of Moon Valley, Squaw Peak, downtown Phoenix, North Scottsdale, and North Phoenix.
There is water at the base of the hill, but no restroom facilities.
The mountain is on 16th St. just south of Greenway Road in North Phoenix.
I did the hike 1 1/4 miles one way; or 2 1/2 miles round trip in two hours. If the elevation gain of 60 degrees pitch with 1200 feet gain is considered, the actual round trip is closer to 4 miles. That was as best as can be done by an older man. Most climbing this grueling trek were in the 20-30 year age bracket and well fit. A group of locals show up here a lot, and few tourists make the hike to the top, I found out, of the 300,000 that attempt yearly, only 1/3 make the top.
I took the Echo Canyon side vs. the longer, but easier Cholla Trailhead. It is steep rock climbing, and sometimes hand over hand grasping. The path is slippery with loose dirt/sand/gravel and slick rock. Elevation gain is about 60 percent, which makes this 1207 gain climb equal to 4,000 feet (3/4 mile), and that puts more stress of the body to achieve the steepness.
The Echo TH is off McDonald Dr near intersection of Tatum Rd, and about 1/2 mile north of Camelback Rd at 44th St. Cholla is off Chapperal Rd, to the west of Scottsdale Rd.
This hike was nearly as challenging as Camelback. It is 1 1/4 miles one way, but elevation gain of 1200 feet at 60 degree angle makes it equal to about 2 miles one way. The trail is rocky nearly all the way and they are rough, jagged and uneven. Some flat path is part of the trail, but there is also slick rock to climb. The trail wraps around the back side of the mountain before coming back around the the front when getting close to the top.
There are about 250,000 showing up to hike yearly, and 80% are locals, with 80% of those in good shape at 20-30 years for 90% of the trekkers. I was one of those 2% at 65 years that climbed, and all wrapped up in knee supports, and needing a hip replacement badly(to do in Feb). That, though was the challenge for me, and I made it back down unscathed, but tired for sure.
While you are in Phoenix be sure to drive take a drive to the Cheyenne Pass. The trip to the pass is a nice drive and once you get the the Pass, yikes, but worth it.
The Pass road is very narrow and is a long way down into the floor of the desert and it is breath taking. The beautiful lakes are the water reservoirs for the surrounding areas and are just beautiful. The first lake we came to (I can't remember the name) had a very nice merina and restaurant where we had a couple of very needed beers and a nice lunch lake side before taking to the trail again.
Most of the lake areas have camping areas and merinas as well. What I was trying to figure out is, how in the heck the got some of those big boats there. There is now way I could or would pull a boat on that pass.
Any way, it is a beautiful place and it makes you think of the struggle they must have gone through years ago getting over and through those mountains when there was now road.
Here are a few pictures for you. I hope you enjoy.
The 30,000-acre White Tank Mountain Regional Park is the largest regional park in Maricopa County. There are 25 miles of multi-use trails in the park, ranging in length from 0.9 to 7.9 miles and difficulty from easy to strenuous. Cyclists and guests on horseback should exercise great caution on the more difficult trails.
Families with young kids will appreciate the 2.5 miles of trails for pedestrians only, including the short loop of Black Rock Trail (0.5 mile) and the Waterfall Trail to Petroglyph Plaza (0.4 mile). Both are hard-surfaced trails and barrier-free.
The White Tank Riding Stables are located at the park's entrance. Families pay an hourly rate for one- and two-hour horseback rides, offered daily. These rides provide an excellent opportunity to view the coyotes, hawks, and mule deer indigenous to the area.
The park offers picnic areas, semi-developed campsites, star gazing programs, and other special events. Check our event calendar or the website for more information.
White Tanks is on the east side of Phoenix, and from where I was staying it was about a 15-20 minute drive. From downtown, I'd say that it's about 45-50 minutes. It's not as popular as some of the other parks around Phoenix, but that just means there are less people to see while you're on the trail. 8) It had some decent hikes, and 2 that were pretty lengthy to the extent that there was a camping area. There a fair bit of rock that kids (and big kids at heart can enjoy scrambling around on).
In 2003, Squaw Peak was renamed Piestewa Peak in honor of Lori Piestewa, a Native American US soldier killed in Iraq. The name Squaw Peak had been controversial to many Native Americans due to the fact that it is believed to be a derogatory term. On the other hand, many Phoenix residents were upset by the name change, mostly because of the history surrounding the naming of the mountain and also due to the fact that residents felt that the renaming was politicizing the death of Ms. Piestewa and, in so doing, was ignoring the sacrifice of many Arizonans whose lives had been given to preserve freedom.
The mountain was so named 100 years before by its original surveyor. Squaw Peak Park, a Phoenix recreational area, was created around the mountain. The highway leading to the park was once called the Squaw Peak Parkway, is now named the Piestewa Freeway.
Much like McKinley/Denali, it is likely that the controversy will continue and the mountain will be known by 2 names.
It is too too famous and is impossible of explanation for me.......LOL
If there is a car, it is convenient, but, as for you, there are a lot of tour buses from