Combining the mystique of the Wild West with the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Railway has been delighting riders since 1901. As you make the two-hour trip to the canyon from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim, you’ll be entertained by authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life, all the while soaking up the unforgettable scenery of Grand Canyon National Park.
For many, a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a quintessential Grand Canyon experience. It’s possible to ride the railway one way, or choose a round-trip ticket that allows for almost four hours to explore the national park. Most travelers ride the passenger train as part of a day trip to the canyon from Williams, though it’s also possible to spend a night at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel or Maswik Lodge for a more leisurely exploration.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Grand Canyon Railway is popular among kids and families.
- Dress in layers and don’t forget sunscreen and a hat.
- Both coach and first-class cars are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Grand Canyon Railways departs daily at 9:35am from Williams, Arizona. It makes the 65-mile (105-kilometer) trip to the Grand Canyon in a little over two hours, and once there, visitors have roughly four hours to explore before heading back toward Williams at 3:30pm. Expect to arrive at the Williams train depot around 5:45pm. The closest commercial airport to Williams is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, about 45 minutes away by road. Phoenix Sky Harbor is about 2.5 hours away by road.
When to Get There
The best time to ride the Grand Canyon Railway is during spring and autumn, when temperatures at the Grand Canyon are cooler and crowds more sparse than in the peak summer season when the train operates two departures daily. Summer visitors can expect temperatures upwards of 85°F (30°C). The first Saturday of each month from March through October is Steam Saturday, when a steam locomotive pulls the train to Grand Canyon National Park.
Special Events Aboard the Grand Canyon Railway
Depending on the season, passengers might be in for a special treat on this historic train. In fall, kids can put on their favorite Halloween costume and ride the Pumpkin Patch Train for a journey through the countryside to a secret pumpkin patch. During the holidays, the railway transforms into the Polar Express, complete with a nighttime ride to see Santa and his reindeer.