Grand Canyon Railway and the historic train

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references


  • What is the Grand Canyon Railway
  • Where it is
  • Route
  • Departure times
  • Ticket price
  • Guided tour from Flagstaff
  • Where stay
  • Nearby

A historic train. An unforgettable journey.

Go with me on a wonderful journey on one of the most characteristic and famous trains of the Old West!

What is the Grand Canyon Railway

At one time, the Grand Canyon was only accessible by horse, or by stagecoach. Then, in 1901, it was inaugurated la Grand Canyon Railway, a railway line that connected the city of Williams to the Grand Canyon Village.

Even the famous writer and naturalist John Muir was in favor of this work: in particular, he appreciated the low impact that this infrastructure had on the surrounding landscape.

more than fifty years, the train was the preferred means of transport for those who decided to reach this part of Arizona, then the advent of the automobile caused the Grand Canyon Railway to lose its charm, and the railway line was decommissioned.

It was only in the 80s, thanks to the will of the couple Biegert, who decided to recover it, bringing it back to its old splendor.

Today, those who want to reach the Grand Canyon can also do so by traveling on the historic train of the Grand Canyon Railway.


Just think that during the last ride of the historic train that connected Williams to the Grand Canyon, which took place in 1968, there were only 3 passengers on the train.

After the Grand Canyon Railway was put back into operation in 1989, its convoys traveled an average of 100.000 passengers a year.

Where it is

The Grand Canyon Railway is located in northern Arizona. The city from which the trains depart, Williams, is located about 100 kilometers south of the Grand Canyon, just over 60 kilometers from Flagstaff. The departure station is located at 233 N. Grand Canyon Boulevard, Williams.

The arrival stationinstead, it is located inside the Grand Canyon Village, in the South Rim.


The train traveling on the Grand Canyon Railway departs from Williams Station and, after traveling more than 100 kilometers in about 2 and a half hours of travel heading north, passing through the centers you will arrive at the Grand Canyon Village station, in South rim del Grand Canyon.

Between Williams and the Grand Canyon there are no intermediate stages. The only stations it stops at are the Grand Canyon on the outward journey and Williams on the return.

The carriages of the convoy, which it uses a steam locomotive, have been restored to their original 20s splendor, and offer passengers the ultimate in comfort. During the trip, depending on the type of ticket chosen, it is possible to use the bar and restaurant service.

A train different from the others

What you do on the Grand Canyon Railway is no ordinary train ride. While you are comfortably seated in your own carriage, guides tell the story of the railway, its passengers and the Grand Canyon, while musicians play typical music of the Old West.

Outside, the landscape changes quickly: from the desert plateaus to the pine forests, to the breathtaking view of the San Francisco Peaks, which constitute the highest point in the whole of Arizona.

Those who decide to travel on the Grand Canyon Railway also on their return, then, will have the opportunity to experience a real one assault on the train, like those that occurred in the times of the gold rush.

At Christmas time, the Grand Canyon Railway train turns into the Polar Express, to give all the magic of Chris Van Allsburg's book to young and old.

The stations

Those traveling with the historic trains of the Grand Canyon Railway cannot fail to notice the beauty of the buildings that make up the Williams and Grand Canyon Village stations: both built more than 100 years ago, still maintain their beauty unaltered.

Williams station, which in the past even housed a 43-room hotel, now houses the ticket office and a gift shop where to buy souvenirs dedicated to the railway and the Grand Canyon.

At the Grand Canyon Village station, built entirely of wood (the design was by architect Francis W. Wilson, of Santa Barbara), only the first floor is intended for passenger services; nearby is the most famous hotel of the place, theEl Tovar Hotel, built in 1905.

Departure times

Usually the train performs one departure per day from Williams and one from the Grand Canyon:

Round trip

  • departure from Williams at 9:15 am
  • arrive at the Grand Canyon at 11:45 am

Return trip

  • departure from the Grand Canyon at 15:30 pm
  • arrive in Williams at 17:45 pm

During the busiest periods, a second race is scheduled:

Outward journey (2nd ride)

  • departure from Williams at 10:30 am
  • arrive at the Grand Canyon at 12:45 am

Return trip (2nd ride)

  • departure from the Grand Canyon at 16:30 pm
  • I arrive in William at 18:45 pm

Ticket price

Il cost of the ticket of the Grand Canyon Railway train varies according to the type of service chosen and the carriage in which you wish to travel. Here are all the rates:

  • The Pullman Car - Adults $ 67,00 - Children $ 32,00

This fare includes travel in an original 1923 carriage (built by the Pullman Company) completely refurbished, an assistant who teaches passengers the history of the railroad and helps them plan their visit to the Grand Canyon.

A group of entertainers entertain travelers throughout the journey.

  • Coach Class - Adults $ 82,00 - Children $ 51,00

The fare includes travel in a refurbished, air-conditioned 50s carriage, travel assistants who tell anecdotes and offer advice to passengers, costumed musicians playing Old West music.

With this ticket you can access the Cafè Car (the carriage-bar) and buy drinks and snacks.

Those who do not travel in the company of children and young people under the age of 16 can reserve a seat in one of the special carriages.

  • First Class - Adults $ 155,00 - Children $ 121,00

The first class fare allows you to travel in comfortable carriages with spacious seats. If you leave in the morning, passengers are offered pastries, fresh fruit, coffee and juices during the journey, while in the afternoon refreshments include snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. At the bar you can also buy beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks.

Also in this case, those who do not travel with children and young people under the age of 16 can request a seat in one of the special carriages.

Coach Class and First Class carriages also allow access for the disabled.

  • Observation Dome - Adults $ 184 - Children $ 153,00

This fare offers the unique opportunity to travel on the top of the train, under a wonderful dome from which you can enjoy a spectacular view.

The service includes refreshments such as coffee, fresh fruit, pastries and fruit juices during the morning and a toast with sparkling wine on the return journey. Alcoholic beverages can also be purchased at the bar.

  • Luxury Dome Class – Adulti $219

The rate includes the trip in the exclusive carriage surmounted by a beautiful dome and the possibility of accessing the lounge, where there is a bar, a leisure room and very comfortable armchairs.

Those traveling in this carriage are also offered refreshments and a toast with sparkling wine on the return journey.

  • Luxury Parlor Class – Adulti $219,00

With this fare you travel in a carriage equipped with all comforts, including a lounge and bar.

Those who choose this option have the possibility to access the external platform located at the end of the train. Refreshments and a toast with sparkling wine are included in the price.

Guided tour from Flagstaff

Red Rocks, Sedona

This guided tour departing from Flagstaff, one of the most famous and well-known cities in Arizona, is the ideal solution for those who want to enjoy all the best of the Grand Canyon, including train travel on the historic Grand Canyon Railway.

The tour begins with a visit at Red Rocks di Sedona, all’Oak Creek Canyon e alla Ponderosa pine forest of Flagstaff.

We then move on to Williams, where we board the train of the Grand Canyon Railway, for an exhilarating journey to the Grand Canyon.

Upon arrival at the Grand Canyon Village, your guide will greet the tour participants and offer them the packed lunch.

The following four hours will be dedicated to visiting the Grand Canyon: you can admire the view of the Colorado River and climb the Watchtower Observatory. On the return journey, we stop all’East Rim, to admire the view from the Desert View Watchtower.

The last stop before returning to the hotel is there Navajo reservation, near Sedona.

The tour includes

  • entrance tickets to national parks
  • one-way ticket for the Grand Canyon Railway train
  • Guided tour of the South and East Rim of the Grand Canyon and Grand Canyon Village
  • Picnic lunch
  • Hotel pick – up

Where stay

In order not to miss a minute of the travel experience in one of the most famous natural parks in the world, the best thing is stop to sleep in a nearby town.

Williams Hotels

For the city of Williams I would like to point out two hotels that offer their customers impeccable service in a unique atmosphere. I'm:

  • The Grand Canyon Hotel
  • Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Flagstaff Hotels

Flagstaff, one of the most important cities in Arizona, also offers several options to stop and sleep without breaking the bank:

  • Hotel Aspen Flagstaff/Grand Canyon InnSuites
  • Days Inn Flagstaff


Among the attractions that Arizona and its cities have to offer are not only the nature reserves. While in the area, you shouldn't miss the chance to visit the beautiful cities of Williams e Flagstaff.

Williams, "the gateway to the Grand Canyon"

Williams is one classic American town which has the charm and atmosphere of the Old West.

Set close to the gorgeous Kaibab National Forest, inhabited by towering Ponderosa pines, the city is a small diamond in the rough just waiting to be discovered.

While waiting to leave for your adventure in the Grand Canyon, you can discover all the wonders.

Starting from its history and that of its inhabitants, told to Williams Visitor Center and Museum.

Those fascinated by the history of the legendary Route 66, on the other hand, should definitely explore the Pete’s Route 66 Gas Station Museum, while for those who love adventure there is Route 66 Zipline.

Al Wild West Junction it is the Old West that comes back to life, with a distinctive menu and historical reenactments. The Planes of Fame Air Museum, on the other hand, it is dedicated to aviation and to those who made its history.

As for outdoor activities, in addition to the Grand Canyon, there are several nature reserves to explore, such as Bearizona, a park that can be crossed by car.

Flagstaff, another stop on Route 66

Of course. Flagstaff is one of the many cities that were on the route of the iconic Route 66, as evidenced by the characteristic buildings and neon signs of the downtown area.

Flagstaff is the ideal starting point to visit the thousand beauties that this corner of Arizona has to offer: not only the Grand Canyon, but several other nature reserves and testimonies of its history.

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