Traveling on the Grand Canyon Railway

While you can get to the Grand Canyon one of various ways—by bus, by helicopter, and by car, train travel is also an option from Williams, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park, or the canyon’s South Rim. This historic means of transport on the Grand Canyon Railway roots its beginnings in the late 1800s and early 20th century. At that time, a number of railroads designed routes to notable locations, especially national parks in the western U.S.

The Importance of Trains and National Parks

For example, the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads constructed tracks for travel to Yellowstone National Park in Montana. The railroads also built and operated their own hotels near the well-known park. The Santa Fe Railroad was no exception. At that time, the railroad constructed a track to the Grand Canyon, and opened the El Tovar Hotel next to the South Rim. This event took place in January 1905. During this time, autos were not driven a great extent. Therefore, trains were used to travel substantial distances.

A Better Way to Travel

People liked taking the train, as it certainly was a smoother ride than traveling by stagecoach – a bone-jolting ride that often caused passengers to feel more upset than adventurous. Therefore, train travel directed to scenic vistas and accommodations amped up the tourist trade in the national parks.

Through the mid-1900s, the Santa Fe’s resort at the Grand Canyon proved to be a popular place, as passengers taking the trains, El Capitan or the Super Chef, could enjoy a train ride between Williams, AZ and the National Park and have somewhere to stay.

Train Travel to the Grand Canyon Today

The Santa Fe relinquished its control of the route to the Grand Canyon in 1974. However, trains still run today. The Grand Canyon Railway is one of the few modes of travel that offers an extensive range of dining amenities or lodging options for visitors.

The Williams Depot, erected in 1908, stands at an elevation of 6,767 feet. It looks as it did when it was first built. The brick loading platform is the original platform established in 1908. While waiting for a train from this platform, be sure to stop by the museum adjacent to the depot. View steam Locomotive Number 20, built for use in 1910. You can also view the train’s small coal car and a Harriman coach car that was built in 1923.

You can also travel to the Grand Canyon by bus, via a well-known tour operator, Grand Canyon Destinations. Travel packages are offered to the South Rim and West Rim of the canyon from the city of Vegas. If you are traveling from Williams, take the train. If you are traveling from Vegas, take the bus or the train!

About the Author

Kyle Gooverton

Kyle Gooverton

A Grand Canyon enthusiast! A local Las Vegas resident that loves the flora and the fauna of all things Southwest.