The Grand Canyon Railway is one of those rare experiences that reminds us of what travel was like before cars and airplanes. It first started passenger service to the Grand Canyon in 1901. The train made the Canyon more accessible to visitors with the previous option of visiting being a eight hour stagecoach ride from Flagstaff Arizona. The train ran until 1968 when it closed down because it became more popular to drive. In 1989 train service was restored to the Canyon by entrepreneurs Max & Thelma Biegert who saved the tracks from being salvaged. We are lucky that the Biegert’s had the vision to bring this train back to life so it could be enjoyed by us today.
I have been to the Grand Canyon many times but this was the first time that I took the train. Our journey started in Williams Arizona where we boarded one of the restored passenger cars. I do not know how old the car we were in was but the the oldest one dates to the 1920’s. There are five different classes of service ranging from basic Coach Class cars to the Observation Dome cars to the Luxury Parlor Class. Each class level has different amenities. The are all air conditioned so the ride is comfortable during the summer.
The ride starts in the high desert of Arizona and takes you through the prairie up to the pine forest of Northern Arizona. It is a nice ride and much more relaxing than driving.
During the two hour trip there are musicians and even a train robbery to entertain you. Don’t worry they do not take all your money…just a few tips.
The ride ends at the historic Grand Canyon Depot which is right in the center of the park. Near the Depot is the El Tovar Hotel which has been welcoming visitors since 1905.
Once at the Canyon we had a little over four hours to explore. This is enough time to see part of the south rim from the top but we did not have time to hike down into the Canyon. We spent some time exploring and also had a nice lunch in the El Tovar Hotel restaurant.
We enjoyed our short stay at the Grand Canyon and will definitely be back. Taking the train is a unique experience that will take you back in time to when the train was the only way to go.
- Visit the Grand Canyon Railway website for more information.
- Fares start at $75 + Tax and Park Admission for adults.
- The train departs from Williams Arizona at 9:30 AM. The return train departs from the Canyon at 3:30 PM.
- Hotels and Train Package are available and can be booked on the website.
- There is a tram service in the park to take you to different sections.
- If you are not going to stay at the Canyon I would recommend staying in Flagstaff Arizona which is about 30 miles from Williams.