Grand Canyon Railway

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This page last updated on 12/12/2017
(Fig. 01)

Trip Description:  The Grand Canyon Railway departs daily from Williams, Arizona, about 30 miles west of Flagstaff, Arizona. It travels 65 miles almost due north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The train passes through the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. Including both Williams and the Grand Canyon, the plateau is set at an elevation of between 5,000-6,000 feet. The journey through Grand Canyon Country features a variety of stunningly different landscapes. Surrounding Williams, you are surrounded by forests of Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, spruce and aspen (Fig. 02). You then drop down to the wide open prairie filled with Pinyon-Juniper woodlands, sagebrush, grama grass, and a variety of brush like live oak, salt bush and mountain ash before climbing back up to the Pinion pine forests as the train approaches Grand Canyon National Park. The trip measures 65 miles and takes 2 hours and 15 minutes each way—45 minutes faster than in 1901 when the train made its first trip. Once you arrive, the trip gives you 3 hours and 45 minutes to explore the parks buildings and the Grand Canyon's outstanding views.

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03/09/2009 Trip Notes: Back in 2009 we made this trip with my neighbor and friend Marc Resnic. Arriving the day before, we had booked two nights in Williams at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel adjacent to the historic train depot. Our package included two dinners and two breakfasts at the Grand Depot Cafe, next to the hotel and the four and a half round trip train ride to the Grand Canyon. When we woke the next morning we were actually confronted with a brief snow shower. By the time we finished breakfast and headed out to the platform to board (Fig. 03), the snow on the ground had already melted. The train ride up and back was a wonderful experience. We booked the most exclusive seats on the train; inside the Luxury Parlor Car (Fig. 01 - above), a grand tradition of elegance and extraordinary comforts. This elegant rail baron experience provided the elegance and comforts preserved for those who enjoy the finer things. The comfortable over-sized, lounge-style seating had plenty of leg room, grand picture windows that enhanced the scenic journey, a private bar (Fig. 04) and access to the open-air rear platform at the rear of the train (Fig. 05). Between eating and drinking, I spent considerable time visiting the open-air platform just at the end of our parlor car (Fig. 11) at the end of the train taking pictures and enjoying the surrounding scenery that we traveled through (Fig. 10). (notes con't below)

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Trip Notes Continued: On the ride up to the canyon we were given fresh fruit, pastries, coffee and juice (Fig. 06). The return trip in the afternoon at the end of the day we were provided snacks of vegetables, cheeses and crackers (Fig. 07) and a sparkling white wine toast (Fig. 08 right)
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as well as the available bar with beer, wine and mixed drinks. There were even strolling musicians that roamed the cars playing tunes of yesteryear (Fig. 09). We all agreed this was the only way to visit the grand canyon.

Explains Bob Baker, Grand Canyon Railway General Manager, “By traveling aboard Grand Canyon Railway you are not only experiencing an entertaining and historic journey, but you are also doing your part to help preserve the pristine beauty of the Grand Canyon.” Riding the train saves about 50,000 cars each year from having to visit the park. (notes con't below)

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Trip Notes Continued: Finally, we reached the Grand Canyon, the end of a very relaxing, two and a half hour train ride. We embarked in front of the beautifully restored Grand Canyon railway station (Figs. 12 & 13). Unfortunately, as we arrived, it was rather cold, quite windy and overcast. Even though the weather prevented us from obtaining optimal pictures, it was still good enough to be extremely impressive. Click here for pictures and a description ... Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim. After spending nearly four hours touring the parks' historic buildings and absorbing the majestic views of the canyon, we re-boarded the train for the return trip, where upon we again began eating, some of vegetables, cheeses and crackers (Fig. 07), a sparkling white wine toast, and more rounds of drinks from the bar. All-in-all it was a great experience.

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Play a Slide Show
Clicking the picture-link below will open OneDrive in a new window and a folder containing 27 pictures taken of our ride on the train. To view the show, click on the first picture in the folder and you will get the following menu bar:

Click the "Play slide show" will play a fullscreen window of the slide show.