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What better way to explore the Grand Canyon with the family than with an old-fashioned train shootout, robbery, and cattle-rustling? The Grand Canyon Railway is today a heritage railroad carrying passengers from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The ride is full of Wild West shows and cowboy sing-alongs for the whole family. While in Arizona, go south and see Tombstone - the Wild West boomtown and home of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

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The train is also comfortable with plenty of refreshments (at least in first-class). In first-class, enjoy an observation dome and luxury parlor cars. There are daily drink specials mixed by bar attendants. Another thrilling train expedition is to complete the scenic Canadian Rocky Mountaineer.

Grand Canyon Railway - The Historic Train To The Canyon

The historic Grand Canyon Railway was completed in 1901 but was soon out-competed by the advent of the automobile. Passenger service ended in 1968, with freight service following in 1974. But it was purchased in 1988, and passenger trains started running again in 1989.

Today the train runs year-round, carrying eager tourists to the Grand Canyon daily. The entire Grand Canyon Railway has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Built: Complete 1901
  • Length: 64 Miles or 103 Kilometers
  • Runs: Williams To Grand Canyon Village

Related: This Is The Best Month To Visit The Grand Canyon, And Which Tour To Take While You're There

Wild West Hustling And Hold Up Shows On The Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway keeps the Wild West alive with re-enactments and shows that will keep the whole family entertained. Every day (except Christmas) at 9.00 am, tempers start to flare, and friendly breakfast discussions get heated.

Watch the spectacle unfold to the backdrop of the Old West town, complete with a saloon, livery, diner, and jail. These are family-friendly shows where the good guys always win, and nobody gets hurt (the bad guys get thrown into the hoosegow). This morning performance between the motley train-robbing, cattle-rustling Cataract Creek Gang and the town marshal is the first taste of one's Grand Canyon Railway adventure.

While en route to the Grand Canyon, the Western entertainment continues with cowboy singers and musicians strolling between the train cars. These songs are sing-alongs and are a great hit with the kids. Watch as the kids start to chime in on the train-themed songs and old-timey Westerns.

Along the journey, the Marshall is constantly keeping an eye out for any troublemakers or would-be train robbers. Sometimes the entertainment has a touch of realism as the real-life current mayor, or former sheriff of Williams also climbs aboard the train and joins the passengers.

More Wild West entertainment is awaiting the return trip on the Grand Canyon Railway. It has become a tradition for the historic train to be held up as it returns to Williams. And see the marshal with an authentic star pinned to his chest and a .45 Colt Peacemaker (“the gun that won the West”) holstered at his hip (don't worry, it's a fake).

Along the route, one may see cowboys rounding up cattle for branding (just like they did in the days of the Old West). Keep an eye out for the wildlife of the Grand Canyon - like prong-horned antelope, elk, and just maybe an endangered California condor.

Related: These Grand Canyon Glampsites Are Ready To Elevate Your Camping Experience

Grand Canyon Railway Schedule & Info

The train departs Williams every day at 9.30 am Arizona mountain standard time - except in November and December. It arrives at the South Rim at 11.45 am.

Train Schedule January to October:

  • Departs: Williams At 9.30 am
  • Arrives: South Rim At 11.45 am

Train Schedule November and December:

  • Departs: Williams at 8.30 am
  • Arrives: South Rims At 10.45 am

After arriving at the Historic Village, passengers have over three hours to explore the canyon and the exhibits. It departs back to Williams at 3.30 pm (or 2.30 pm during November and December) and arrives back at 5.45 pm (4.45 pm November and December).

  • Luxury Parlor: $226.00
  • First Class: $159.00
  • Coach Class: $82.00
  • Pullman Class: $67.00

If 3 hours is not enough to see the canyon and village, then consider staying there for the night and taking the train back the next day. There are also packages for those who would like to bundle their train travel with overnight stays in the Grand Canyon National Park or Williams - see TheTrain.com for options.

When there are periods of high demand, a second train may also be available.