Big Wheels Keep On Rolling: The Grand Canyon Railway Rolls By The Entrance Station At The South Rim Saving Visitors Time
THE SOUTH RIM, GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – March 2, 2018 – It’s official. The National Park Service just issued an advisory that reads “bus shuttle operations to begin March 1 – Park and Ride […] and visitors can expect to wait an hour or more at the entrance stations […] as parking lots can reach capacity as early as 11 a.m.” There is also a mention of ongoing road construction.
However, a trip to Grand Canyon National Park doesn’t have to be that way. For travelers in the know and train enthusiasts, the environmentally responsible way to travel to the South Rim is aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. Guests just park their car at the Williams, Arizona train depot just off Route 66, board the train, and roll to the oldest log train depot still in operation in the United States, just a short walk from the rim of Grand Canyon. The iconic 1910 log Grand Canyon Depot is an easy, casual walk to El Tovar, Hopi House, Lookout Studio, Bright Angel Lodge, and the head of Bright Angel Trail. In-park bus shuttles connect visitors to Hermits Rest and the Visitor Center. A car is not necessary to explore the South Rim and the Historic Village, and keeping an estimated 70,000 cars out of the national park is a good thing – that’s what the train does. Train passengers pre-pay the National Park entry fee, and annual passes are also accepted.
The Grand Canyon Railway’s “express” to the South Rim is a beautifully restored historic train where guests can sit back and enjoy the 65-mile ride across the high desert plateau. The two-hour, 15-minute trip features live Western entertainment both aboard the train and at the Williams Depot. The railway offers six classes of service, ranging from no-frills Pullman and Coach, to Luxury Dome and Parlor, which include food and drinks (and even a champagne toast!). Trains depart daily at 9:30 a.m. and return from the canyon at 3:30 p.m. with a two-train schedule during peak periods. Many people enjoy some R&R on the railway on the return journey to Williams.
If staying overnight in Williams is appealing, customizable packages include an option of one night at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and includes round-trip train transportation and one breakfast and one dinner per person at the Grand Depot Café buffet restaurant adjacent to the depot.
The Grand Canyon Railway also offers a package that includes an overnight stay at the park’s popular Maswik Lodge North. It’s a hassle-free way to spend time in the park, plus luggage is delivered directly to the guest room.
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