Best Grand Canyon Railway Adventures

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Trains, vans, and helicopters. What a way to go!

Posted by: Yellowstone National Park on March 3, 2017

Whether you experience the Grand Canyon by train, by helicopter, by van — or even all three — the Grand Canyon Railway has designed multiple adventures for visitors looking to up the wow factor of this bucket-list destination.

Whether you experience the Grand Canyon by train, by helicopter, by van — or even all three — the Grand Canyon Railway has designed multiple adventures for visitors looking to up the wow factor of this bucket-list destination. The lovingly restored classic train is a treat itself, offering an incomparable historic ride to the canyon through ponderosa and piñon pine forests and wide-open prairies.

Here are six great tour options:

CANYON DISCOVERY PACKAGE

The two-night getaway starts and ends in at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, Ariz., a town with classic Old West flavor. After checking into the gracious Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, enjoy dinner at the buffet-style Grand Depot Café. Following breakfast the next morning, you’ll be treated to a Wild West show at the historic Williams Depot, before boarding the train for the two-hour, 15-minute journey to the canyon with its head-snapping views.

The entertainment continues en route, as musicians stroll between the cars, and passenger service attendants offer insider info on the canyon.

After arriving at the South Rim’s 1910 train depot, passengers will enjoy a guide-narrated, hour-and-a-half motor-coach tour that takes in key sites along the South Rim. There’s also free time to explore, whether that means hiking along the rim, exploring historic buildings and shops, or simply savoring a leisurely lunch at a canyon-adjacent restaurant.

The train departs for the return trip to Williams in the afternoon, leaving time to relax at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel before dinner at the Grand Depot Café.
The package includes two nights lodging, round-trip train fare, motor-coach tour, two dinners and two breakfasts.

CANYON DISCOVERY PLUS PACKAGE

Want more time at the canyon? This deal includes all elements of the Canyon Discovery trip but adds an overnight stay in the national park at Maswik Lodge North. Set over several acres in a ponderosa pine forest, the two-story lodge buildings are within easy walking distance of the South Rim’s Historic Village and the canyon’s edge.

Train with flags

GRAND CANYON HELICOPTER TOUR

Visitors overnighting at the South Rim on the Canyon Discovery Plus package can add an optional 45-minute tour with Maverick Helicopters, for show-stopping aerial views of the canyon. Flights depart from the Grand Canyon South Rim terminal.

RAILWAY GETAWAY PACKAGE

Those short on time can still enjoy savings when they book round-trip train fare in one of six classes of service — from Pullman Class to Luxury Parlor — along with a night at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, with breakfast and dinner at the Grand Depot Café.

Black bear in front of two white cars

INNER-CANYON COACH TOUR

This day-long tour starts and ends in Williams and takes visitors onto the Hualapai Indian Reservation. It travels along one of the last remaining stretches of the original Historic Route 66. Destined for a remote area of the canyon west of the national park boundaries, the vehicle descends 4,000 feet to the Colorado River as the massive canyon walls seem to rise higher and higher. The oversized vans have large windows and rugged suspension systems for maximum comfort. The tour, available seasonally, includes a box lunch to enjoy on the banks of the river.

BEARIZONA WILDLIFE PARK

It’s worth spending an extra day to visit this drive-through park in a wooded area of Williams, which houses wolves, bears, bison, and more in natural habitats. A 20-acre pedestrian area offers close encounters with beaver, otters, porcupines, and and other creatures. Great for families, the programs include animal “meet-n-greets,” participatory animal feedings, and birds of prey shows. Visitors can self-drive the route or join a bus tour with an expert guide.

For more information on the Grand Canyon Railway, visit thetrain.com or call 800-THE-TRAIN (843-8724).

For travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.


Written by: Jayne Clark

Washington, DC-based freelance travel writer Jayne Clark has been a travel reporter at USA TODAY and several other daily newspapers.

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