GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – October 12, 2013 – Hotels, restaurants, gift shops and activities are opening today at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park as the park announced that it has entered into an agreement with the State of Arizona that will allow Grand Canyon National Park to reopen and temporarily operate during the government shutdown.
Grand Canyon Railway resumes its daily round trip excursions between Williams, Ariz. and the Grand Canyon Depot as well. The lodges and many other concessions in the park, Grand Canyon Railway as well as The Grand Hotel in the park’s gateway community of Tusayan are all operated by Denver-based Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the country’s largest national park concessioner.
Immediately upon reopening, some limits will be placed on the services offered, including limited tours and food service available on Saturday, October 12th. The overnight mule rides to Phantom Ranch, Canyon Vista Mule rides and in-park motorcoach tours (Sunrise, Sunset, Hermits Rest and Desert View) will not operate on Saturday but will resume operating on Sunday.
“While we have been canceling reservations on a day-to-day basis, starting today any existing reservations are still valid,” said Jon Streit, general manager of Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C., operator of six lodges on the rim and Phantom Ranch on the floor of the canyon. “At the same time, we have significant availability at the hotels as the uncertainty of the government shutdown has resulted in a significant number of room cancellations every night.”
Xanterra manages more than 900 rooms at the South Rim. October is a very popular time to visit – especially for empty nesters with flexible schedules – as the comfortable temperatures are perfect for hiking and the shifting light brings out new perspectives for photographers.
“Right now we have availability at all lodges for at least the next few days,” added Streit. “If there was ever a time to call and get that room at El Tovar or a cabin at Bright Angel at the last minute, it is now.”
To make reservations, guests are encouraged to go online at www.grandcanyonlodges.com or call toll-free 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 from outside the United States. A second option is to call 1-928-638-2631 for same-day reservations.
Reopening the park also means Grand Canyon Railway has resumed its runs. GCR departs Williams each morning at 9:30 and arrives at the canyon at 11:45. The return trip departs the Grand Canyon at 3:30 and arrives back in Williams at 5:45. The train trip from Williams to Grand Canyon National Park runs 65 miles through ponderosa pine forests and scenic high-desert landscapes.
GCR also operates the Halloween-themed Pumpkin Patch Train, which just added tour dates and is now operating as well as the popular holiday-themed Polar Express starting in early November.
The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel was designed to resemble the historic Fray Marcos Hotel and Williams Depot structures that stand nearby. The hotel is comprised of 199 standard rooms, 87 deluxe rooms, 10 suites and one luxury suite – the Rail Baron Suite – as well as a spacious meeting room available for wedding receptions, seminars and other functions; a large courtyard with barbecue and wet bar; a game room for children; a large enclosed crescent-shaped pool and hot tub and an exercise room.
Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. To reserve train tickets, rooms at the GCR Hotel or packages, visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724).
The Grand Hotel in Tusayan just outside the entrance to the park is also available. This 121-room hotel was built in 1998 and features an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, gift shop, coffee shop, restaurant and lounge featuring nightly entertainment. Room reservations for the Grand Hotel may be made online at www.grandcanyongrandhotel.com or by calling 1-928-638-3333 or toll-free at 1-888-634-7263.