All Aboard! Stepping Back in Time on the Grand Canyon Railway

Feb 26, 2017

My husband and I are huge fans of mixing our family’s travels with historic adventure, always mindful of creating wonderful memories while crafting an itinerary that blends fun with a bit of education. When we recently decided to trek to the Grand Canyon, we discovered what we believe to be the very best way to experience the majesty and magnificence of what is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World (and a trip that required very little “planning” on our part): An all-inclusive package that encompassed accommodation at the warm and welcoming Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and scenic (and entertaining) train travel to the South Rim.

Chartered in 1866 to build west from Springfield, Missouri, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway ran along the 35th parallel, eventually connecting Amarillo to Pecos, Pecos to New Mexico, Barstow to San Diego. Along this 7,500 miles of track was the unwavering line between Williams, Arizona and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. First afforded status as a Forest Reserve in 1893, the park did not receive national status until three years after the creation of the National Park Service itself, in 1919. Today, the park receives nearly five million visitors. Roughly one hundred times more than the 44,000 visitors it averaged from 1919-1920, and right around the time that the Santa Fe became famous for its passenger trains.

Known for covering long distances of line without access to water, the Santa Fe was one of the first rail companies to purchase diesel locomotives for freight service, which housed on-line eating houses and dining cars operated by Fred Harvey. Harvey’s legacy is vast in Williams and the Grand Canyon for his gem of architectural elegance placed directly on the rim of the crevasse: El Tovar.

Between the historic town of Williams and Grand Canyon National Park lies the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel. Built in 1908 by Harvey House Corp., the hotel had a variety of guest rooms, a formal dining room, cafe, bar, and a news room. A perfect compliment to the Williams Depot, the hotel still stands today. The Railway itself has been taking guests into the heart of the canyon for over a century, and riding it has become much more than just a way to get from point A to point B: it is a time machine and a postcard - a wonderful way to experience the romance of travel by train.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the oldest poured-concrete structure in the state of Arizona, the Williams Depot is and has been an oasis for visitors travelling to and from California along the main line for decades. En route to the canyon are varied landscapes, including pine forests and sprawling prairies with ample opportunity to spot antelope, the California condor, fox, deer, bald eagles and wild horses. Onboard, colorful railway characters bring history to life with mock train robberies and strolling cowboy musicians with a keen sense of humor lead passengers in old-time sing-alongs. Our kids were particularly enthralled by a Western gunfight portrayed by authentically raucous actors prior to boarding and a train robbery on the return trip.

Once we arrived at the log-cabin style Grand Canyon Depot in the South Rim, we found ourselves within easy walking distance of many popular scenic overlooks and most of the village’s historical buildings, which we had plenty of time to explore at our leisure during the four hour “layover” before boarding the train once again for the journey back to Williams.

After the two-hour ride to the northern terminus of the line, experience the luxury of a bygone era at the newly refurbished Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Standing just next to the historic depot and a skip, hop and jump away from downtown Williams, those looking for an easy way to see the grandeur of the park can purchase a getaway bundle, including everything from train travel to a hotel suite or spot in the Grand Canyon RV Park. With a variety of amenities, the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel features 298 rooms, complimentary wi-fi, an indoor pool, hot tub, and delicious dining options at the Grand Depot Cafe and Spenser’s Pub. Open year-round, the hotel and train operate under the unpredictable weather of the Canyon, and guests can find comfort and refuge any time of year - from late-summer thunderstorms to winter’s snow and ice (aboard the Railroad’s Polar Express). For more information, and to book your adventure today, visit www.thetrain.com.

Latest News

Sorbet Magazine Celebrates Its September Issue!

Business Showcase Sorbet Mag

Sorbet Magazine Celebrates  Its September Issue!

It’s impossible to say what we love most about our issue release parties, especially the most recent one at V...

The Escher String Quartet Opens Segerstrom Center’s 2018-2019 Chamber Music Series

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

The Escher  String Quartet  Opens  Segerstrom Center’s 2018-2019  Chamber Music Series

Thursday, November 1, 2018 in Samueli Theater Segerstrom Center for the Arts launches its 2018-2019 Chamber Se...

Segerstrom Center Kicks Off Its 2018-2019 Jazz Season With Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Segerstrom Center Kicks Off Its  2018-2019  Jazz Season  With Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal

Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents Grammy® Award Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Ahmad Jamal for one pe...

Beyond the Books Nadia Milner delivers "Top Notch Services"

Entertainment Jody Robinson

Beyond the Books  Nadia Milner delivers "Top Notch Services"

I remember when one of my college friends was appointed Payroll Specialist for a large company in Pasadena. Whe...

Ready for Open Enrollment?

Health & Wellness Sorbet Mag

Ready for  Open Enrollment?

In a few weeks, you’ll be making important choices about next year’s health plan. As you consider your opti...

Making Educated Choices for Your Loved One’s Care

Education Jody Robinson

Making Educated Choices for Your Loved One’s Care

A Q & A with Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare You think it might be time to consider options f...

Lea Michele and Darren Criss Continue LM/DC Tour With North American West Coast Dates

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Lea Michele  and  Darren Criss  Continue LM/DC Tour With North American West Coast Dates

November 2, 2018  in Segerstrom Hall Following the demand of fans and rave reviews, actors and musicians ...

Drug Free, Surgery Free & Needle Free: A New, Proven Treatment to Reverse Erectile Dysfunction

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Drug Free, Surgery Free & Needle Free:  A New, Proven Treatment to Reverse Erectile Dysfunction

A Q & A with Dr. Michael DeYoung, M.D., LaSara Medical Group Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) often suff...

Pilates and Yoga for the Neck

Health & Wellness Align Pilates Team

Pilates and Yoga for the Neck

There is no shortage of reasons why people suffer from neck pain, but primarily, the root cause is due to impro...

How Can I Tell If I Have Skin Cancer?

Health & Wellness Kristy Fleming, MD

How Can I  Tell If I Have  Skin Cancer?

People of all ages get skin cancer. Checking your skin can help you find skin cancer early when it’s highly t...

Broadway’s Smash Hit Beautiful The Carole King Musical returns to Segerstrom Center for the A…

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Broadway’s Smash Hit Beautiful   The Carole King Musical   returns to  Segerstrom Center for the Arts

October 9 - 14, 2018 Back by popular demand, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical returns to Segerstrom Cente...

The Art of Craft @ The Brewhouse in San Juan Capistrano

Business Showcase Jody Robinson

The Art of Craft @ The Brewhouse in San Juan Capistrano

Let’s play a quick game: I’ll say a word and you write down the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? Beer...

Thinking Inside the MedBox. The New Standard in Medication Management Offers a Better Way to Dispens…

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Thinking Inside the MedBox. The New Standard in Medication Management Offers a Better Way to Dispense Prescriptions

In a recent conversation with my mother, I discovered something. Something that was a cause for pause as I pond...

Upcoming Events at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Upcoming Events  at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

The Australian Pink Floyd Show September 6, 2018 Segerstrom Hall The 2018 Australian Pink Floyd Show Tour is ...

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces 2018 – 2019 Jazz Series

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces  2018 – 2019  Jazz Series

Ahmad Jamal Quartet and Shahin Novrasli Kenny Barron Quintet • Kurt Elling Christmas Branford Marsalis Quarte...

Compassionate Caregiving: Your Home Care, Inc.

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Compassionate Caregiving:  Your Home Care, Inc.

In-Home Care and the New! Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center in Laguna Woods Village Over the past deca...

RODAN + FIELDS: Changing Skin. Changing Lives.

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

RODAN + FIELDS:  Changing Skin.  Changing Lives.

Friends are good for a great many things. Laughing with you, getting out of tight spots every once in a while, ...

Get Your Game Together with No Bogeys Golf

Entertainment Ann Laurence

Get Your Game Together with No Bogeys Golf

Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to pick favorites when it comes to family. But let’s be honest, we ...

Medicare: A + B = ? Where does D come in?

Insurance Denice Merrill

Medicare: A + B = ?   Where does D come in?

I’m getting so much information in the mail! What do I need to keep? I am the presenter at the Mission Hospi...

Johnny Mathis “The Voice of Christmas” Returns to Segerstrom Center for the Arts With a Speci…

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Johnny Mathis  “The Voice of Christmas” Returns to  Segerstrom Center for the Arts  With a Special Holiday Concert

The legendary and undisputed “Voice of Christmas,” Johnny Mathis will brighten the holiday season when he r...