Grand Canyon

Sep 4th, 2009, 05:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 63
Grand Canyon

We will be going to the Grand Canyon in May 2010. Our travel agent strongly recommends we stay at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel and take the train ride through the Canyon. We will have a car to travel on our own the next day to the canyon. Everyone else tells us to stay closer to the Canyon. Any negatives to staying at this hotel? We will also be traveling to Bryce, Lake Powel, Zion, Monument Valley.
starrenee1 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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I have not stayed there, but you can check their Tripadvisor reviews and judge for your self. They seem to get pretty good reviews overall.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 07:12 AM
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I believe that Grand Canyon RR Hotel is in Williams right? That's at least an hour drive each way to the Park which I would think is too long, especially when you consider there are plenty of excellent and reasonably priced accomodations in the park itself at the South Rim as well as in Tusayan which is right outside the park entrance. You are planning well enough in advance that you should have no problem getting a reservation at one of the in-park lodges like El Tovar, Bright Angel, Thunderbird or Kachina- all of which are right on the canyon rim. Maswick and Yavapai lodges are also very close by.

The trip you're planning is one we just got back from and just wrote a trip report. Good Luck!
dw732 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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If I were you I would dump the traval agent and listen to everyone else!!
It is much better to stay right inside the park at one of the lodges. There are 4 lodges right on the rim and 2 a short distance away.
Check out for details and availability. Or call 1-888-297-2757.
There is nothing better than getting up early in the morning, grabbing a coffee or hot chocolate and stepping outside and watching the sunrise.
The train does not go "through the Canyon". It ends up at the Canyon. A waste of money IMHO.
We have stayed at El Tovar every year for the last 5 years.
Repeat - dump the travel agent and stay inside the park!! You will not regret it.
Gilbert56 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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Find another travel agent, or do the planning yourself! I can think of 2 things about your TA: 1) incompetence 2) commissions

The train does not go through the Canyon. It's a huge hole in the ground, no train can go there. Sorry for this description, it's the most amazing, breathtaking hole in the ground

The train only goes TO the canyon, not even along the rim. I was on a bus tour that went along the train part of the way - it seemed boring (and overpriced! I looked it up on the Internet) - if you have a car, stay as close to the South Rim as you can.
Dayenu is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 08:32 AM
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Our travel agent strongly recommends we stay at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel and take the train ride through the Canyon.

Your travel agent is a real prize, because The Train is one of the two biggest tourist traps in all of Arizona. Get a new agent right away.

There are several reasons the Train gets such low ratings ... it's very expensive compared to driving (about $20 in gas to drive from Williams, hundreds of $$ for a typical family to take the train's cheapest seats); the ride up and back takes about 5 hours thru rather boring countryside just west of the highway (you never actually see the canyon from the train, much less ride "through the Canyon"); you will be there between noon and 3 PM, when the area is over-flowing with tourists. This is the WORST time to actually view the canyon (sunrise and sunset are the best times). And you are spending a night in Williams, a small logging town with a few thousand people and nothing much to do.

Probably the agent is getting a big commission from this.

Just rent a room at the rim or in Tusayan (if the rim hotels are full) and make sure you get out to the viewpoints at sunrise and sunset. For anyone with a car it makes no sense at all to take this train. If you are a train buff then there are better train trips in Arizona, like the Verde Valley train, and much better ones in New Mexico and Colorado, like the Durango - Silverton trip.

This one is a real rip-off. I would get a new travel agent.
Bill_H is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 09:30 AM
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Completely agree with the others. Skip the GC Railway hotel and train. Not necessarily anything wrong with them. It is just that it would take up way too much of your time, which is much better spent AT the GC.

I would not stay in Tusayan if you can get a room inside the park. Check availability and book a room at one of the rim lodges (El Tovar, Kachina, Thunderbird, or Bright Angel. This far in advance you should have no problem. Just don't wait too long.
MikePinTucson is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 11:17 AM
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Your travel agent knows absolutely nothing about the Grand Canyon.

You don't need a travel agent. You can arrange all of this on line.

Look at "Plan your trip" You can do all the trip yourself by driving and avoiding the tourist traps your travel agent is trying to sell you.

As others say, dump this travel agent. This person is not working for your best interests.
Placename is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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If the travel agent also highly recommends the Hualapai Glass Bridge at the "Grand Canyon" he/she will be 2 for 2 on Bill's Arizona tourist trap list.
J62 is online now  
Sep 4th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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Oh yeah. If the travel agent even mentions the Grand Canyon Skywalk- run away!

I hope this person isn't handling the other parts of your SW trip.
Placename is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 02:51 AM
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Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!!!!!!! Will definitely take your advise...which hotel is the most not want to pay $200. a night for a hotel room.
starrenee1 is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 04:36 AM
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I think the price goes like this, from lowest to highest

In park/off rim
Maswik, Yavapai

On rim
Thunderbird & Kachina, Bright Angel, El Tovar.

You do pay a $ premium to stay in the park, as costs to operate there are much higher. Many people (i.e. on trip advisor) complain that the lower end lodges Maswik/Yavapai cost the same as you pay for a 4* Westin in Podunk, Iowa, and they expect the same level of hotel. Not gonna happen people. The rooms at Maswik and Yavapai are quite basic - very much like your local Motel 6 chain. No frills. They are clean and comfortable though - it is a national park, not a seaside resort.

Xanterra is the operator of the lodges in park Rooms get sold out far in advance (up to 1yr for some rooms). Reservations are fully cancellable up to 2-3d before arrival, so my recommendation is to book a room at any of the hotels right now. Pick the best room at your price point. Cancellations happen all the time, so if you want something nicer then check back from time to time - you can easily shift your reservation should something better open up. I've found that tour group operators will release unwanted blocks of rooms at the last minute, so definitely check for an upgrade (at your cost) even shortly before you arrive.

If you want to be close but don't want to pay the in park rates, or don't want to feel like you're in the middle of a forest then you can stay in Tusayan. It's 5min outside the entrance, or about a 20min drive to the rim/canyon, with free park shuttles. Williams is to far away.
J62 is online now  
Sep 5th, 2009, 06:36 AM
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which hotel is the most not want to pay $200. a night for a hotel room. (from MikePinTucson's link) and click on one of the lodge names to see the prices and availability. You can make reservations from the site instead of going thru a travel agent ... El Tovar is most expensive ($174 - $426), Maswik is $90 - $170 but 1/4 mile off the rim (to pick two examples) ... the cheapest rooms right ON the rim are at Bright Angel.

I've stayed at El Tovar 3 times, Bright Angel once, Yavapai and Maswik probably 10 times ... all were OK, none were really memorable. The canyon is the real attraction.
Bill_H is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 03:07 AM
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Wonderful information....Thanks again....any more tips would be appreciated!
starrenee1 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 09:35 AM
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Make sure you see the GC at sunset and sunrise. Don't look towards the sun. Look at the formations as the colors and shadows change. Mather Point is most popular and crowded for sunrise and Hopi is most crowded for sunset.

I liked Yaki Point for sunrise. It is less accessible because private vehicles are not allowed on the road out to the point. You can take the shuttle there or park along the east rim drive and walk the 1/2 to 3/4 mile road to the point. We saw 2 elk on that walk.

Best viewing is right after sunrise and before sunset. So don't arrive way before sunrise and don't show up right at sunset.
MikePinTucson is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I'll just echo what's been said...stay in a park hotel (there are various options). You can book it yourself. The Grand Canyon is just awesome and worth viewing at various points and during different times of day. But then what is the question after a day or two. We went to an Elderhostel sponsored by the Hualapai people and at this western part you can get down to the Colorado R. Also at this Peach Springs location you can book rafting trips.

Don't know details on your travel plans. You've mentioned Bryce, Zion and other scenic spots that will not disappoint you.

Ozarksbill [email protected]
Ozarksbill is offline  

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