Grand Canyon Railway: 5 Things You Need to Know
The Modern Wild West Express
If you like to travel in style, then you must have dreamt about riding with Orient Express, in one of those classy and beautifully decorated wagons, with all-inclusive room service and cozy sleepers with a mesmerizing moving view to lull you into sleep. There is a Wild West version of it, and it is called Grand Canyon Railway. It has more than a century-long tradition of transporting people through the wilderness of Grand Canyon. If you are a western fan, you will enjoy the wild beauty of the prairie while you ride in your comfy seat and listen to the sound of train wheels that takes you back into the days of the Gold Rush.
The first stop is in Williams, Arizona, a small and charming town just north of Phoenix. You will be surprised to know that the Grand Canyon Railway is operating continuously since 1901, except for a period from 1968–1989, when it was restored and reconstructed. Back in those early days, the Grand Canyon was an even more inhospitable and deadly place. People used the railway to transport all people, supplies, and building material to this wilderness. The railway also brought all the water supply to the Grand Canyon until 1921, so before it became a tourist attraction, it was a life maintaining pipeline.
2. Things to Do in Williams, Arizona
This charming Wild West landmark made a long way from a forsaken place in a harsh land of miners, settlers, an explorer pioneers to becoming a gateway, and a keeper of the natural wonders of Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is the most prominent place and a gathering point for guests and tourists. It boasts with spacious rooms, access to an indoor pool, and fitness center. A colorful menu with an all American breakfast will make you ready for departure on a great adventure, which starts from historical Williams Train Depot. Built-in 1908 and preserved to this day as a monument to a bygone era of conquering and settling the unknown lands, it will make you feel like an incoming settler yourself.
3. The Train Ride
The train departs in the early morning around 10 am, and it goes from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The route is about 70 miles long, and it will take around two and a half hours each way, which is 45 minutes faster since 1901. That is what we call progress. Because of the specific geography of the region, this trip will include a variety of beautiful landscapes to bring joy to nature lovers with a mix of pine forests and open prairies with authentic wildlife. Bald eagles, condors, and mountain lions are not a rare sight, and they will promptly remind you that you are a guest on their territory and not the other way around.
The fun starts even before you board the train, with a stand-off reenactment between a local sheriff and a gang of banditos, to describe you a typical morning in the Wild West in the 1900s. Once you are on a train and halfway through the journey, you will witness another reenactment of a train robbery, which is a lot of fun for any kids abroad. And for adults who like train robberies. Live musicians will create the perfect atmosphere to go with the landscape of the Grand Canyon and the prairie wilderness. As for the comfort level inside the train, keep in mind that you can choose between six different classes with different costs and levels of service and amenity.
Now that you finally arrived at the Grand Canyon, you may ask yourself what is there to do in this vast wilderness beside enjoying the incredible view. You will be surprised by the variety of choice which includes hiking, bike rentals, camping and mule rides for a start. There are even airplane and helicopter tours available, and all hopeless romantics and photo enthusiasts can choose between sunrise and sunset trips above the canyon. A perfect way to capture this rare beauty and bring back home the best memories of your Wild West adventure.