Accessibility | Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel

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Rolling Along: Grand Canyon for the Mobility-Challenged

In many ways, exploring Grand Canyon can be physically challenging — which is exactly why the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel and Grand Canyon National Park Lodges have created a variety of ways to accommodate and assist guests with physical challenges.

From ADA-compliant rooms at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel to boarding assistance on the train to specialized transportation within the park, travelers with mobility issues will find a variety of modifications designed to enhance their enjoyment of one of America’s most picturesque train journeys and one of the world’s most astounding natural wonders.

If you have any questions regarding accessibility at Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, please feel free to give us a call (7a-7p MT) at 1.800.THE.TRAIN (1.800.843.8724).

Service Animals

Service animals are permitted on board the Grand Canyon Railway and all facilities at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ, including guest rooms, shops, and restaurants. Service animals are also permitted on Grand Canyon Railway South Rim Motorcoach Tours and throughout Grand Canyon National Park, including hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, trails, and on the National Park Service Shuttle Buses. Service animals must be on a leash at all times. Persons wishing to take a service animal below the Grand Canyon South Rim must first check in at the National Park Service’s Backcountry Information Center.

  • What is a service animal? Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.
  • Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA? No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
  • Is my non-service animal allowed on the train or other facilities in Williams or at the South Rim? They are not, but we do offer a full service Pet Resort adjacent to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, which is available to both day and overnight guests.

In the Railway Hotel

In the heart of the historic town of Williams, the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel features rooms that meet the standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seamlessly woven into some of the clean and modern accommodations are special features such as wider doorways to allow scooters and wheelchairs easier access, stabilizing handrails provided in bathrooms and roll-in showers, and countertops lowered for easier accessibility.

On the Train

Each morning at the vintage depot, the historic Grand Canyon Railway waits for guests to board for the two-hour-and-15-minute journey to the Grand Canyon. While the appearance of the classic cars reflects a long-gone era, each has been updated and outfitted to modern standards so every guest travels in comfort. Additionally, at each end of the train a special lift assists mobility-impaired guests into the railway’s ADA-accessible cars. For passengers who must remain in their wheelchair or scooter during the journey, both Coach and First Class levels of service include “parking areas” for your device, as well as ADA-compliant on board restrooms. For passengers who can transfer from their mobility device, choices include four other classes of service where special vestibules allow scooters and wheelchairs to be stored during the scenic 65-mile ride. Note that Observation Dome and Luxury Dome classes do require passengers to navigate stairs.

What’s more, the ability to accommodate all guests lasts throughout the year, with ADA-accessible cars available during special seasonal events such as October’s Pumpkin Patch Train and Polar Express excursions, running yearly from November through January.

In the Park

When the train rolls to a stop near the South Rim, it comes to rest near the most visited area of Grand Canyon National Park: The Historic Village. Part of its appeal is that it is intersected by the wide and level Rim Trail that runs parallel to the South Rim for approximately 13 miles between the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest. Visitors in wheelchairs and mobility devices or with walkers find the paved trail to be easily navigable. The Historic Village, itself, features the greatest concentration of wheelchair-accessible gift shops and restaurants, along with some of the canyon’s most dazzling overlooks.

For guests who’ve arranged a railway package and notified their reservationist in advance, they will be met at the station by a nearby fleet of ADA-compliant motorcoaches provided by Xanterra, the park’s primary concessioner, waiting to introduce them to the never-ending, spectacular views of the Grand Canyon via The Grand Tour. Many of the South Rim’s most popular lookout points have wheelchair-accessible restrooms as well as overlooks that present unique and ever-changing views of the canyon. Along the way, guides share fascinating details about its natural and manmade history.

In addition to Xanterra-provided transportation, the National Park Service’s fleet of shuttle buses includes vehicles with wheelchair ramps. Note that NPS shuttle buses cannot accommodate wheelchairs larger than 30 inches wide by 48 inches long (76 by 122 cm), and most motorized scooters will not fit on the busses. If you find yourself in need of a wheelchair, rentals are available at Bright Angel Bicycles adjacent to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

For those guests who plan to overnight inside the park, they can check into one of the Xanterra-managed Grand Canyon lodges — from the historic El Tovar hotel to the Maswik, Kachina, and Thunderbird lodges — each of which provide ADA-compliant accommodations.

Learn more about accessibility at Grand Canyon South Rim on the National Park Service’s website: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

No matter whether you stay for a few hours, for an overnight visit, or longer, you’ll never forget the time you spend at the Grand Canyon.

Other Issues

  • Hearing Impaired Guests: Hearing impaired guests will be provided with written materials regarding the Grand Canyon Railway and Grand Canyon upon boarding. If you would like the materials mailed to you in advance, please complete our Contact Us form and select ‘Reservations’ as the department. If a passenger needs a sign language interpreter, Grand Canyon Railway will make every effort to accommodate. Last minute requests or requests close to holidays may be difficult to fulfill.
  • Oxygen on the Train: Oxygen is permitted on board the train, but there is no storage space for oxygen tanks. All oxygen tanks brought on the train must stay at the seat with the passenger. Not all classes of service have electrical outlets, and we cannot guarantee access to an electrical outlet. We also cannot take responsibility for outlets being powered the entire trip. Every effort will be made to accommodate requests to sit near an outlet, but passengers should come prepared with enough oxygen to last at least the entire 2 and 1/4 hour trip, if not the whole day.