Grand Canyon Train

Old May 11th, 2008, 04:41 AM
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Grand Canyon Train

I would appreciate any input on the Grand Canyon Train that leaves from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.

Did you stay overnight or just take the train trip? Which car would you recommend riding in? Was the scenery worth taking the train for?
KarolYu is offline  
Old May 11th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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The train actually leaves from Williams, not Flagstaff. I would not take the train myself (see reasons below) but if I had to choose between the day trip and the overnight trip I'd do the overnight trip so I could see the canyon at sunrise and sunset.

Was the scenery worth taking the train for?

The scenery on the train ride up and back is nothing special, just across some grasslands and thru the forest, almost identical to what you see on the highway. Some of their ads make it look like the train tracks run beside the rim but this is not true and they had to pull those misleading ads in Arizona. You never see the canyon from the train, which ends up in a parking lot across from El Tovar hotel.

Here's something I posted on a thread asking about the train recently.

Here in Arizona the Train is considered one of the two biggest tourist traps (along with the Skywalk), something to be avoided. Drive, drive, drive!

Here are three reasons for that harsh assessment.

1) The train is ridiculously expensive, especially if you have a family. Even with two people it will cost much more than driving 120 miles, even with four-buck gas. For example the cheapest fare (on uncomfortable bench seating) is $65/adult, $35/child, so $130 for two or $200 for a family of 4.

It's 120 miles driving round-trip so if you get 20 mph and gas is $4/gallon you're paying $24 in gas (plus any driving inside the park).

2) The train arrives near the rim around noon and leaves around 4 PM. This is the ABSOLUTE worst time to actually view the canyon because the sun is too high and there are no shadows. Best times are sunrise and sunset (you can arrange an overnight trip thru the train people, this would be much better than the day trip but even more expensive). With a car you can set your own hours.

3) It takes too long ... 2 hrs 15 min each way, so 4.5 hours roundtrip on the train, vs an hour each way driving.

If you really want to take a train in the southwest there are some excellent options, like the narrow gauge train from Silverton to Durango in Colorado (even the Verde Valley train south of the GC is better than the GC train). But this one is a bit of a rip-off.


Bill_H is offline  
Old May 31st, 2008, 02:54 PM
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I just got back from the Grand Canyon with my mom. I had asked for some advice on planning this special 60th b-day for my mom and Bill_H had responded. Take it from him, he knows his stuff!!! (The train from what I saw looked like a disappointment waiting to happen). I took his advice and took my mom on a scenic airplane, 4-wheel drive, and pontoon raft, and motorcoach tour. We were only there a total of 4 days (2 days travel) and I feel like we did more than some people do in a week!!! We took a tour with Grand Canyon's Airport (River Adventure). It was well worth the $$$ as you get to see the canyon from so many different perspectives. We flew in an amazing twin engine plane over the north rim, Lake Powell, marble Canyon, and the Glen Canyon Dam. You will fly over the Navaho bridge, which you later cross via motorcoach. Next, it was onto a 4 wheel drive vehicle to antelope Canyon and then you board a pontoon boat raft and float down the Colorado for 4.5 hours. It was amazing how well orchestrated the tour was and how everyone was where they were suppose to be when they were suppose to be there. It is a few different tour groups that all come together to give you one spectacular trip of a lifetime!! We also hiked the bright angel trail the next day and experienced yet another perspective of the Canyon. What an amazing country we live in!

Also, don't forget to have breakfast at the El Tovar! Bill had recommended it, and he was SOOOO right! The dinner would have been overpriced, but the breakfast was well worth it and what a view!! It was the best meal we had there.
Thank you Bill!
liveitup is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2008, 05:21 AM
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Totally agree with the above
Skip the train.
Did it BC (before children)
then took oldest(train fan)
from which we resolved *never* again!
There are better historic
trains in America and IMO
this train serves no purpose
but to take your cash.
wanderluster is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Thank you Bill!

You're welcome liveitup ... sounds like you and your mom hit all the high spots in a short time, though some of the things you did sound like what others on the earlier thread were recommending too.

The average trip to the GC, according to NPS visitor surveys, is about 3.5 hours, with most of the time spent in the car, gift shops or restaurants ... you and your mom really skewed the curve and did things right

Bill_H is offline  
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