Take Over: How to Charter the Grand Canyon Railway
For the ride of your life, arrange a private charter aboard the iconic train
Over the next few hours you’ll scale the massive Colorado Plateau and witness the constantly unfolding drama of the American Southwest on a uniquely American journey that is destined to create unforgettable memories.Special occasions often call for special transportation — for example, renting a luxury sedan to meet up with business associates or hiring a limousine to attend your daughter’s wedding. But the ultimate in rental vehicles is the Grand Canyon Railway, which you can reserve in its entirety or just by individual car.Much more than just transportation, the iconic train offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a family reunion, small business gathering, or any special group event. Here’s how to do it.
There’s only one place in the world where you can charter a train to Grand Canyon, and it’s aboard the Grand Canyon Railway, where private groups can reserve individual cars or even the entire train itself. On the 65-mile, two-and-a-half hour journey between the retro-cool town of Williams, Ariz., and Grand Canyon National Park, the train’s commanding presence, stylish interior, and superb service are essential parts of the experience. Plus, the unique historic railway cars have been fully refurbished to their original authenticity.The line’s seating choices include Coach Class, First Class, Observation Dome, Luxury Dome and Luxury Parlor Class. All classes above coach feature attentive staff who serve soft drinks, mixed drinks (additional charge), and an assortment of complimentary snacks, sweets, pastries, and hors d’oeuvres. With the Old West atmosphere enhanced by modern accents, the stage is set for the journey ahead. Over the next few hours you’ll scale the massive Colorado Plateau and witness the constantly unfolding drama of the American Southwest on a uniquely American journey that is destined to create unforgettable memories.Even before you depart, those memories begin in Williams where legendary Route 66 still unfolds through town. The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, located just blocks from the famed two-lane highway, makes a perfect base to explore the route as well as the town’s historic district. The modern hotel complex boasts comfortable rooms, a lounge, restaurants, and gift shops filled with Wild West, American Southwest, and Grand Canyon gifts, art, and souvenirs.Topping it all off is watching the train roll up to the depot at the hotel’s front door.
The arrival of the Grand Canyon Railway is a sight that never fails to excite passengers — more so for charter guests who will step aboard their own car.“We’ve arranged it so any person, any family, or any organization can charter either a private car or two, or even charter the full train,” explains Bruce Brossman, marketing director for the Grand Canyon Park Lodges and Grand Canyon Railway. “And after our main train became so popular for charter groups, we added our steam-powered train as a second option. That proved to be a huge hit on photo excursions and especially popular with true rail fans who love the look and sound and feel of an authentic steam locomotive.”Since high demand can create limited inventory, you need to charter an individual car or the entire train at least six months — and as many as 10 months — in advance, and even then some dates may be unavailable. But if the timing works, your group will experience the unforgettable.For business groups, a private charter car can be placed just behind the engine so there will be no interference from other guests. And when the meeting adjourns, members can savor the experience shared by other passengers.On the journey the train slides into long curves, wraps around corners, and inspires every passenger by introducing views that stretch from horizon to horizon. With the wheels clicking a steady cadence, along the way cowboy singers stroll between the train cars to serenade passengers with songs of the West, the lyrics firmly linked to the views just outside your window.Whether reserved by a family or a company, you’ll find that time moves slowly as people tune out of social media and tune into the world outside the window — the red buttes, scrub brush, and the pinyon pines that can be seen only by the people aboard this train.“When you arrange a charter you’re in essence creating an environment where you’ll share a common experience that is really quite uncommon,” Brossman notes. “Whether with friends or family or the people you work with, aboard the train you’re likely doing something you’ve never done, seeing things you’ve never seen, and experiencing unforgettable moments that strengthen friendships, family ties, and business relationships.“It’s really extraordinary to think a railway can make all of this happen.”
How to Explore
For more information and reservations on chartering the Grand Canyon Railway, visit thetrain.com or call 800-THE-TRAIN (843-8724). The cost to reserve a single car, which requires booking at least three-quarters of its seats, varies based on the type of car you reserve, but starts at about $5,200. The general cost to reserve the full train for the day (which gives you flexibility on departure and return times) ranges between $15,000 and $20,000.For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.