-- Contrary to what the Grand Canyon Railway brochure implies, you
wont see the slightest crack of canyon from the comfort of your
vintage train car. Panoramic views from the Deluxe Observation Dome
dont reveal the big draw, either.
For that youll
have to wait until you disembark at the Grand Canyon Depot -- not a
bad deal, though, considering the train moves you comfortably
through a glorious montage of desert, prairie and pine.
Railway received AAA Travels highest ratings in customer
satisfaction, including a Preferred Partner of the Year award in
2004, the same year the train carried a record-breaking 210,866
passengers to the South Rim.
Thats quite an
improvement over an earlier incarnation of the Railway, which made
its final run in 1968 with only three passengers on board.
Multimillion-dollar restoration efforts saved the train and its
rails from the scrap yards, getting the legendary line back on
track by 1989.
alternative to the Grand Canyon National Parks notoriously
congested roads and parking lots, the train is credited with
reducing park traffic by an estimated 59,000 vehicles a
Visitors can find
ample parking near the old train depot in Williams, Ariz., about 30
miles west of Flagstaff on Interstate 40. There they board one of
an assortment of vintage cars ranging in class from Coach, a 1923
Harriman-style Pullman with reversible seats and ceiling fans, to
Luxury Parlor, the air-conditioned rear car with an open-air
platform, full bar and complimentary champagne in the
A tip for those
torn between thrift and opulence: Enjoy the scenery from Coach on
the morning ride out. Upgrade to the cushy Parlor for a relaxing
afternoon ride back.
Railway also maintains a fleet of locomotives, both steam and
which is in use, the train either chugs or thunders through 65
miles of ponderosa pine forest and high desert plains.
Roving musicians, gunslingers
and outlaws punctuate the 135-minute journey with entertaining
(One group of
elementary school students reacted to every show with glee, while
older travelers at the Club Class bar seemed to regard it as
Upon arrival at
the Grand Canyon Depot, just a few hundred yards shy of the South
Rim, passengers disembark for a three-hour layover -- enough time
to stroll along the rim, shop and dine at Grand Canyon Village,
ride a free shuttle bus as far as Mather Point or take a narrated
tour via motorcoach.
Railway also offers packages with overnight lodging in Grand Canyon
National Park as well as add-on tours of Sedona, the Colorado River
and Native American monuments.
information, call (800) THE-TRAIN or visit www.thetrain.com.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].