The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most famous tourist attractions—and with over 1.2 trillion(!) total acres to explore whether by land, water, or air, it’s no wonder that this natural wonder is one of the best places to book a vacation. Stunning scenery; epic adventures; camping; sightseeing, and more all await the intrepid explorer looking to head west to mother of all Arizona attractions.
There are many ways to explore the canyon—on foot, by air, or even on the back of a mule. But one of the most unique ways to embark on the majesty of the Grand Canyon experience has to be through a scenic train ride.
Train rides are some of the best ways to see some of the most stunning sights on the planet—untapped countryside and sprawling vistas await when traveling by train, as often the tracks lead through areas that are difficult to access, or are even off-limits. Traveling by train is an adventure in and of itself, a distinctive experience that offers vacationers a glimpse into the past.
And the Grand Canyon Railway offers just that kind of distinctive journey through the Arizona prairie—a chance to see the fantastic scenery not only in the famous Grand Canyon but also a way to travel to the famous site in style.
About The Grand Canyon Railway Scenic Railroad
The Grand Canyon Railway has been transporting passengers for over 100 years to the heart of one of the seven natural wonders of the world—Grand Canyon’s South Rim, a 277-mile long gorge in the canyon’s heart. A journey on the Grand Canyon Railway is more than just a train ride; it’s an adventure, a true trip back in time. Once used to transport ore through the Wild West, the Grand Canyon Railway’s cars have been painstakingly restored to offer passengers a truly amazing journey filled with more than just scenery: it's a trip full of Wild West Americana that’s sure to charm any visitor.
- Address: 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. Williams, AZ
- Contact: (928) 635-4010; (800)-843-8724 to book by phone
- Tickets: Advanced reservations are recommended; tickets can be purchased online. Ride tickets start at $41 each way ($82 round trip) for adults. Additional packages are available, including ride & stay options. Visitors can choose their own car type (not included in ride ticket), prices and amenities vary by car and range from Pullman Class to the Luxury Parlor (adults only)
- Schedule: Trains depart from Williams, AZ 365 days/year (excluding Christmas) and return the same day from Grand Canyon Depot. Steam train dates are available during certain select days. Learn more about the schedule and departure times here.
- Trip Details: The train’s route is almost due north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The trip (one way) is about 65 miles and takes approximately two and a half hours. Once arriving at the South Rim, visitors will have more than three hours to explore.
- The Scenic Route: Visitors will have the chance to experience the Grand Canyon State’s distinctive beauty on this scenic train ride: a trip through the Colorado Plateau beginning at an elevation of about 7,000-feet and traveling through a variety of landscapes (and elevation changes) along the way. Expect to see everything from Ponderosa pine forests to wide-open prairie, ultimately ending in the Pinion forests surrounding Grand Canyon Park.
More Than Just A Train Ride
The Grand Canyon Railway is more than just a historic ride to one of the most stunning sights in North America; it’s also an immersive journey back in time where visitors can experience the wonders of the Wild West.
- Experience an Old West square-off between baddies and the Marshal every day at Williams depot before the train departs
- Visitors should be sure to keep their eyes peeled along the journey for a cowboy or two—especially ones that are attempting a train robbery!
- Live musicians serenade visitors with the classic sounds of the Wild West
- Both the Williams Depot and the Grand Canyon Depot have their share of history; Williams is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and GC Depot is a National Historic Landmark—be sure to learn about these unique gems before hopping the train
Stay At The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Chances are, travelers will need more than one day to bask in the scenic wonder of the Grand Canyon—and that means accommodations. While staying (or camping) in Grand Canyon Park is an incredible experience, the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams is also a great place to stay and set up camp before riding the rails.
- Address: 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. Williams, AZ
- Contact: (800)-843-8724, reservations can be made online
- Rates: Rates start at $119 and up/night; vacation packages are available
- Amenities: Indoor pool, hot tub, pet resort, no resort fees, newly refurbished rooms, next to Williams Depot and 2 blocks from downtown Williams and Route 66
- Dining: Hotel has an onsite pub with an authentic 19th-century bar that serves pub-style food and drinks. Across the street from the hotel is the Fred Harvey Restaurant, a family restaurant serving breakfast and dinner
- History: The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is located across the street from the site of the historic Fray Marcus Hotel. Once an important site for quality lodging in the early 20th century, the Fray Marcus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now houses the railway’s gift shop and company offices
Traveling to the Grand Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure—one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a popular tourist destination, the famous National Park has no shortage of amazing options for exploring its awe-inspiring scenery. However, visitors looking for a unique journey into the grandest of canyons should consider a trip on the historic Grand Canyon Railway—packed with distinctive scenery including Arizona prairies and forests, the train ride is a journey into the past filled with its own brand of history and folklore; and truly one of the most scenic ways to head into the majestic Grand Canyon.