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All Aboard!

Grand Canyon Railway

All Photos by Xanterra Travel Collection

Railway Snapshot

Established in 1901, the historic Grand Canyon Railway has been taking passengers on a journey from the heart of Williams, Arizona, to one of the Seven Wonders of the World- The Grand Canyon.

The railway is known for its beautiful scenery, lovingly restored vintage trains, and Western entertainment, which will take you back in time.

The Grand Canyon Railway is a popular tourist attraction and a fascinating way to explore the Grand Canyon. Whether looking for a day trip or a weeklong vacation, the Grand Canyon Railway offers something for everyone.

Grand Canyon Railway History

The Grand Canyon Railway has been in operation since 1901, transporting people from all over the world to see the Grand Canyon. The railway was initially built to transport ore from mines in the Wild West but eventually became a tourist attraction due to the region’s natural beauty.

Notable passengers of the Grand Canyon Railway include Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir. The railway stopped service in 1968 due to declining ridership caused by automobile travel but reopened in 1989 thanks to entrepreneurs Max and Thelma Biegert.

Today, riding the Grand Canyon Railway is an entertaining journey back in time and helps preserve one of America’s national treasures.

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The Journey Begins

There’s no better way to explore one of America’s most iconic landmarks than by taking a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway – It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Grand Canyon Railway Depot

Your journey aboard the Grand Canyon Railway begins at the Depot in downtown Williams. The Williams Depot is more than just a place to catch your train; it's also home to a museum, gift shop, and café. The historic Santa Fe Railway building is a sight to see with its tall ceilings and original railway benches, giving many travelers a nostalgic glimpse into times gone by. Be sure to arrive early so you can explore all the Depot offers before boarding your train.

Wild West Shootout Show

This live-action show starts every day at 9 am and features gunfights, daring robberies, and plenty of laughs.

You'll witness a thrilling combination of comedic storytelling, daring stunts, and old-fashioned gunfights. It will surely be a memorable experience you won't forget and a great way to start your adventure on the Grand Canyon Railway. Plus, the show is free with your railway ticket! So hold on tight for this wild ride through the Wild West.

All Aboard!

After you witness how the good guys thwart the bad guys, it's time to board your vintage train and begin your journey. Before you know it, the Grand Canyon will come into view- its vast expanses of reds and oranges in stark contrast to the blue sky. You'll be able to take in all of nature's beauty as you make your way across 65 miles of Arizona.

The Grand Canyon Railway departs daily from Williams, Arizona. It makes its way to the historic village in the Grand Canyon South Rim, where passengers can disembark, explore all that this natural wonder offers, and learn about its history.

The round trip takes about 8.25 hours, which includes 2.25 hours each way, and more than 3 hours to explore the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon Village.

On board, you'll be treated to stunning views of northern Arizona as you make your way to the Grand Canyon. But that's not all; during your journey, you'll also be entertained by music from a live onboard band, cowboy stories told by some of the most experienced cowboys, and watch out for cowboy robberies!

Six Classes of Service

Please sit back and relax in one of their six classes of service as you take in the stunning views of the majestic Grand Canyon. Its historic cars include the Pullman Car, Coach Class, First Class, Observation Dome, the Luxury Dome, and The Luxury Parlor.

Pullman Car

These refurbished coach cars will transport you back in time as you ride through the beautiful countryside en route to the majestic Grand Canyon. The intimate setting with flip-up seats and open windows is perfect for families or groups of friends. Enjoy the performance by the onboard western entertainers – it’s the ideal way to get into the canyon spirit!

Coach Class

The streamliner-era coaches offer a unique and stylish way to experience all that the canyon has to offer. With comfortable bench-style seating and large windows, these classic 1950s-era passenger cars are the perfect way to take in the scenery. And with the onboard musicians and Café Car, you can enjoy a sense of nostalgia as you journey back in time.

First Class

Travel in style like a celebrity. The first-class cars have large, reclining seats and plenty of leg room, so you can stretch out and take in the scenery through the wide picture windows. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway or a quiet trip with friends.

Observation Dome

Take in the beauty of the surrounding scenery in this glass-enclosed streamliner. Feel like you’re on top of the world while sipping sparkling wine and taking in the panoramic views.

Luxury Dome

The Luxury Dome car is a premier way to experience the Grand Canyon Railway. Travel in style and comfort while you enjoy the best of both worlds: the full-length dome upstairs and an elegant lounge with a full bar and entertainment center downstairs. Get a sparkling white wine toast included in your ticket price.

Luxury Parlor

Enjoy the most luxurious Grand Canyon Railway train ride. Have access to a private bar and the open-air rear platform. Travel back in time to when rail travel was exquisite. Sip on sparkling wine while taking in the beautiful scenery from the open-air platform.

No matter which class you choose, you’re sure to have a great time aboard the Gran Canyon Railway!

Arrive at the Grand Canyon

Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon South Rim, you’ll have plenty of time to explore. Take a hike down into the canyon or enjoy the view from up above, enjoy a guided tour, visit the historic town and learn about its people.

And when it’s time to head back to Williams, you can relax knowing that you’ll be retracing your steps in style aboard the Grand Canyon Railway.

Grand Canyon National Park

Optional Overnight Stay at Maswik Lodge

If you're looking to make a weekend out of your trip on the Gran Canyon Railway, you can also have an optional overnight stay at the Grand Canyon's Maswik Lodge, located right on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

The Maswik Lodge at the Grand Canyon is a beautiful place to stay. It is located right on the edge of the canyon, and provides amazing views of the Colorado River and the surrounding landscape. The lodge is also in a great location for exploring the canyon, since it is close to many of the park's trails and viewpoints.

This convenient option also means you won't have to worry about catching the train after a long day of exploring. Instead, you can sit back and relax in your comfortable room after all your day of exloration and before heading out in the morning to explore some more.

Tips for an Unforgettable Trip on the Grand Canyon Railway

Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a bucket list vacation to the Grand Canyon, consider these hotel options for a relaxing place to stay.  And don’t forget to check out special sightseeing, tour packages, and events like the Polar Express and Steam Saturdays!

Places to Stay & Tour Options

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel & RV Park

The train depot is located about three hours of either Phoenix or Las Vegas, and you can spend a day exploring scenic Arizona on your way here. However, hotel accommodations nearby the depot make the commute even more accessible. The Grand Canyon Hotel and RV Park, conveniently located adjacent to the train depot, is the best option. Staying there will give you plenty of time to explore Williams and the depot.

To learn more about what to see and do in historic Williams, Arizona please read our article about things to do in Williams here.

Add a Grand Canyon Tour

Consider adding a tour while you are at the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon Railway has partnered with leading private tour agencies that provide breathtaking tour options. Their knowledgeable Grand Canyon guides will ensure that you see the best sites in the area and have an unforgettable experience.

Steam Saturdays and Polar Express

The Grand Canyon Railway offers unique Polar Express and Steam Saturdays experiences. Traveling by train to the Grand Canyon is a magical experience, however doing so during the Polar Express and Steam Saturdays events make it even more special. Steam Saturdays run the first Saturday of the month from April through September. Polar Express is a very popular holiday tradition, be sure to book early for the best dates during November and December.

Book Your Adventure Today!

With offerings today that include historic steam trains to the Grand Canyon South Rim, the world famous Polar Express® experience, cowboy poets onboard, sleeping cars, luxury parlor cars, and so much more, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets today and experience this legendary attraction firsthand! All aboard!

Call 1-800-THE-TRAIN or Book Online Today