The Grand Canyon Railway is one of the best ways to get to the Grand Canyon. The train begins the journey to the Grand Canyon from downtown Williams, Arizona. Board the train and leave the hard work to the conductor. A two hour, 15 minute trip, the train takes you along Arizona’s beautiful desert landscape. Upon arrival, the train will pull into the 1910 Grand Canyon Depot. You’ll have about 3 hours to enjoy sightseeing, dining at restaurants or taking a bus tour of the rim.
Begin the Train Ride in Williams, Arizona
The Grand Canyon Railway leaves the station in Williams at 9:30am (8:30am in November and December). Williams, Arizona is 30 miles west of Flagstaff off Interstate 40. Since the train tour is about 9 hours total, you may want to consider staying at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel before or after the train ride. The hotel is conveniently located right at the train station, so parking is easy and within walking distance to restaurants and shopping.
There are six levels when you are purchasing your tickets. You can also choose a different train car or luxury experience for both legs of your trip. There are three levels of class (Pullman, Coach or First Class), two levels of luxury with dome observation (Observation or Luxury Dome) and the Luxury Parlor.
Pullman Class is the lowest priced ticket price. The cars were originally built by the Pullman Company and are completely renovated for the Grand Canyon Railway. The seats flip so you can face your family or check out a different view from the windows. There is also an attendant who is very knowledgeable about the train and the Grand Canyon. The main difference between the Pullman Class and the other classes is that it does not have air-conditioning. The windows open and there are overhead fans to keep you cool in the warm seasons.
The Coach Class is air-conditioned and features bench style seating. There are also large windows for great views. This class also has passenger attendants for history and fun stories. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase.
The train cars in First Class are also air-conditioned. The seats are more comfortable with plenty of leg room and large windows. Snacks and drinks are provided with the ability to purchase alcohol at the bar.
The Observation Dome and the Luxury Dome are the viewing platforms at the top of the train cars. You’ll peer out of the top and see everything from above the car. The Luxury Dome provides exclusive service over the Observation Dome. The Luxury Parlor has the most exclusive service with a private bar and access to the rear platform.
Excursions and Extras
You may also add on a bus tour of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The bus ride is about 1.5 hours and takes you to stops along the rim that you would not have time to walk to. One of the tours also includes lunch.
Wildlife along the way
As you ride the train, keep watch for deer, elk, pronghorn and maybe even mountain lions. There are many squirrels in the Grand Canyon and are very tame. Also look for ravens, bald eagles and California Condors.
At the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
The train depot is located in the Village. Here you’ll find the Verkamp’s Visitor Center, El Tovar, Hopi House, the Lookout Studio. The Rim Trail can be accessed here, taking you toward Hermits Rest or to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. You can also access the Bright Angel Trailhead. Free Shuttle Buses are available to take you to Hermits Rest (red line) or the Village Route (blue line) to the Kaibab/Rim Route (orange). It is important to keep track of time, because you do not want to miss the return train trip to Williams.
How much time will I have at the Canyon?
The layover at the Grand Canyon is about 3 hours, giving you plenty of time to eat lunch, walk on the Rim Trail, take a bus tour or just have a great time.
Is the train ride kid friendly?
Yes, the train is kid friendly and families will enjoy their time together.
Is the Grand Canyon Railway worth it?
Most people agree that the Train ride is worth it. It is worth it because you do not have to drive to the park, maybe wait for hours for entry into the park or find a parking space once inside. The entertainment alone makes it worth the price. Plus, you get to ride one of Arizona’s most famous trains.