Reading that last post (The Grand Canyon Train: the “right track” for your Grand Canyon vacation”), I though to myself, “hmm, it’s almost as though you’re trying to talk people out of taking the Grand Canyon Railway.” Nothing could be further from the truth! But after 25+ years in the Grand Canyon tour industry, I’ve always said that I’d rather burst your bubble than wreck your Grand Canyon vacation.
The fact remains that if your goal is to see the most of the Grand Canyon in the shortest amount of time, the Grand Canyon Train won’t do this for you. There are certain Grand Canyon visitors that the Grand Canyon Railway is most appropriate for and they are as follows:
1. You’re in no hurry! This Grand Canyon vacation is all about relaxation and that includes having someone else do the driving, no matter how long it takes. Perhaps you’ve been to Grand Canyon South Rim before and are now revisiting it with out of town guests. A small taste of what’s there will be enough this time around. If that’s the case, take the Grand Canyon Train.
2. You’re a “ferroequinologist,” or in layman’s terms, a “train buff.” You know full well that these old iron horses don’t break any speed records and that’s A-OK with you! The attraction of the Grand Canyon Train is the train itself, not what goes on outside it. Sound like you? Step right up and get your ticket! Best option yet: ride to the Grand Canyon on the Observation Dome, and back to Williams on the Luxury Parlor Car. If your traveling party is all adults (no kids allowed on these classes of service), this option provides the ultimate viewing and relaxation opportunities.
3. You’ve heard the horror stories about Grand Canyon parking and don’t want to mess with it. IMO they’re a little exaggerated, and things have improved significantly since the addition of a couple more prepaid entrance lanes. But there’s still a grain of truth in those accounts. By travelling through the Kaibab National Forest, the Grand Canyon Railway bypasses the Grand Canyon South Rim entrance gate. Your park entrance fee is included in the price of your Grand Canyon Train ticket. No lines, no hassle.
4. Your kids want to do it. Kids love big machines and the Grand Canyon Railway definitely has a certain attraction for the little ones. But Mom and Dad should take the time to clearly explain that this trip is going to take a very long time and you don’t want to hear one single refrain of “are we there yet.” Fortunately the Grand Canyon Train staff does a wonderful job of entertaining passengers on the 4.5 hour round-trip journey. Cowboy poets, old-school country singers, a mock train robbery all add to the Old West Historic atmosphere of the Grand Canyon Railway.
If you’ve already considered the facts and decided the full Grand Canyon Railway experience isn’t for you, but are still a bit fascinated by it, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the Grand Canyon Train concessionaire has come up with a solution to “meet you half-way:” The Grand Canyon Railroad Express Tour. Board a van or motorcoach early in the morning at one of the Grand Canyon park hotels and ride down to Williams. In Williams, you would watch the Wild West Shootout show at the Grand Canyon Train depot, then board the Railway and ride back to Grand Canyon South Rim. The bus ride to Williams takes 1 hour; the train ride back take the normal 2 hours 15 minutes. Best of both worlds. You get to experience the Grand Canyon Railway, yet it doesn’t eat up your whole day.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that the Grand Canyon Railway was not what you expected yet still want some of the benefits it offers – namely you don’t have to drive! – potential solutions to this particular problem are:
The Williams Grand Canyon Tour: a comprehensive all-day Grand Canyon South Rim van tour where you get to see the best views, and do the best stuff! Tour price includes the IMAX film presentation “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” lunch, park entrance fees and you can even upgrade your tour package to include a 30-minute Grand Canyon helicopter flight! Pickup available in Flagstaff, too. Click here for more information on this tour package ->: The Williams Grand Canyon Tour
It’s time for work – I’m off and rolling!