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Old 05-18-2009, 03:07 PM
Status: "Wake me up when September ends!" (set 12 days ago)
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
3,456 posts, read 4,405,806 times
Reputation: 3090
Default Grand Canyon Railroad

I went to northern Arizona for a good part of last week to escape the unusual May heat wave that Phoenix & southern Arizona are experiencing right now. One of the places that is often overlooked in northern Arizona is the town of Williams. It is a small, quaint little town that has one unique feature: the Grand Canyon Railroad.

We decided to leave the car in Williams and try the train to the Grand Canyon. We bought tickets in the first class section, which I highly recommend because the seats are more comfortable, the service is excellent, you are entertained by singers, and you meet a higher calliber of people compared to those in coach (with that comes fewer screaming kids to have to contend with). It is rather expensive, but worth the money.

The train leaves in the morning at approximately 9:30 from Williams, and heads through the back country at a speed of 40 MPH ... so it's not recommended for people that are in a hurry. The entire trip is about two hours, and you travel through pine forests & a large prairie, and there's a pretty good chance that you will see lots of wildlife on the way.

Once the train reaches Grand Canyon Village, you are there for several hours. Grand Canyon Village offers many outlook points for phenomenal views of the beautiful canyon ... but there are other things to do there besides look at the canyon. There's a pretty wide variety of shopping & dining, but you will not find any chain outlets. Everything is locally operated. You can also catch a shuttle bus which runs every 15 minutes, and that travels through the village & allows you to stop anywhere without having to drive.

The train heads back to Williams at 3:30 PM, and it's enforced that you be on the train by 3:15. On the way back, don't be surprised if you run into some train robbers straight out of an old western type of move setting, and a marshall trying to set them straight. If anyone plans on seeing the Grand Canyon, this is a trip I highly advise. Taking the Grand Canyon Railroad saves driving headaches, and allows you to relax while enjoying the natural settings at the same time. Trust me, it's worth the price!
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Old 05-18-2009, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Southern Arizona
7,842 posts, read 15,408,900 times
Reputation: 6249
EXCELLENT RECOMMENDATION, Valley Native.

The Train Grand Canyon Railway - The Official Site has been one of my favorites for many years and your recommendation for First Class is a great one. The local AAA Travel Agency offers some great packages with extra options including the first night at that Turn Of The Century Hotel right at the depot.
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Baja Arizona
2,916 posts, read 4,963,315 times
Reputation: 1078
Done it! Most wonderful experience! Recommend it to one and all!
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:25 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...
27,554 posts, read 19,895,883 times
Reputation: 74635
Been there, done it and agree the Canyon by train is fantastic and well worth the price.
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:53 PM
 
Location: Tucson/Scottsdale, AZ
3,359 posts, read 4,733,793 times
Reputation: 2598
the GCRR was started back up about 20 years ago by a Phoenix area couple with nothing but the best intentions....very nice story....an article I once read about the last couple days of them getting ready to start it back up would have you in tears as the entire staff was so dedicated and believed in what they were doing....

it was sold to the South Rim concessionaire a couple or so years ago....we hope it'll continue to be a fantastic operation.....a recent walk around the Williams depot et al seemed to give me a good impression of the operation
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Old 05-19-2009, 07:14 AM
 
Location: South Tempe, AZ
13,856 posts, read 16,506,530 times
Reputation: 6162
I took the trip a few years ago with four friends. We had a fabulous time. We went for the gusto and stayed overnight at Williams, (the motel connected with the Railway is nice) and then at the Canyon, before returning home. Did the regular cars going over, and got upgrade to first class coming back.

Highly recommended.
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Old 05-19-2009, 10:05 AM
 
Location: The Circle City. Sometimes NE of Bagdad.
11,650 posts, read 10,156,219 times
Reputation: 33648
Did the overnight trip last March and really enjoyed it. However, it looks like they are not going to use the steam engines any longer, just diesel. Sad, but still worth the trip.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:55 PM
Status: "Wake me up when September ends!" (set 12 days ago)
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
3,456 posts, read 4,405,806 times
Reputation: 3090
Quote:
Originally Posted by motormaker View Post
Did the overnight trip last March and really enjoyed it. However, it looks like they are not going to use the steam engines any longer, just diesel. Sad, but still worth the trip.
The diesel engines are being used now, and it's a shame because they are much more polluting than steam engines. Diesel isn't so bad in the urbanized areas or on the open roads because everybody is used to the dirty air in those locations, but a train that goes through pristine wilderness should really be using clean burning energy.

But yes, it is still worth the trip. The highways to the South Rim are only two laned roads. With that, you have to contend with everybody's peculiar driving habits (from the pushy tailgaters to the annoying slowpokes), as well as having to wait idle for long periods of time at the park's booths & pay the entrance fee. But all that nonsense can be avoided by taking the train!
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:57 AM
 
Location: Sonoita
227 posts, read 310,406 times
Reputation: 125
That resroation of the Grand Canyon railroad was one of the more brilliant projects to happen in Arizona. Iwish Prescott could have done something similiar with the old peavine railroad, but the city fathers did'nt want it. Instead there are the usual generic revenue generating California style strip malls in it's place. The old steam engines just seems as much a part of Arizona as it's nature and natural history. They just seem to blend in with the land as nothing else man made does. Nice article.
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Old 05-22-2009, 06:42 AM
 
Location: San Jose, CA
6,312 posts, read 10,163,782 times
Reputation: 7435
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valley Native View Post
The diesel engines are being used now, and it's a shame because they are much more polluting than steam engines.
Sorry, but you have that backwards. Diesel is less polluting for two reasons. Steam locomotives use wood or coal-fired boilers to make the steam, both of which generate much more pollution than do modern diesel engines which are actually very clean burning. Plus diesel engines are much more efficient than steam engines. That means they derive more power from their fuel, and so generate less pollution for that reason as well.
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