The Grand Canyon Railway – Guide to Grand Canyon Train Tours

Grand Canyon Railway

A 19th century geologist called it the most sublime of the earthly spectacles. Most of today’s visitors will agree.

Most visitors to Grand Canyon go by car. However, there is another interesting way to visit Grand Canyon – Grand Canyon Railway.

Another entranceway to Grand Canyon is at Williams, which is a half an hour’s drive west of Flagstaff. Visitors can catch 9.30am departure of the Grand Canyon Railway which takes until lunch-time to make the 65 mile trip through forests, high-desert plains, and small canyons. Arriving at the South Rim near the famous El Tovar Hotel, it allows stopover before getting back to Williams at the decent time of 5.30pm.

The railway began ferrying tourists to the Grand Canyon in 1901, but it became increasingly difficult to run it at a profit – particularly when cars became the preferred way of getting to the canyon. The railway shut down for tourist travel in 1968 and this, together with the closing of the local lumber company, sent Williams into decline. But the railway was revived in 1989 and has proved more popular than ever – and its fortunes seem assured since the Department of the Interior’s warning that most cars will be banned from the park in the near future.

Passengers can choose between five classes of travel on the train, which is composed of 1923 Harriman cars pulled by a modern steam engine. Story-tellers and strolling balladeers keep the passengers entertained en route. On the return trip, a mock robbery is staged by masked bandits who dismount to stop and board the train.

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