Grand Canyon Train

Old Feb 14th, 2011, 09:59 AM
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Grand Canyon Train

We are taking the Train from near Flagstaf (I think it is Williams) to the Grand Canyon and back in March. What time does the train depart and how soon do we need to be there?
Is there an Indian reservation near either Flagstaf or Scotsdale that is a tourist stop?
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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I'm not sure about the train but we took a GC helicopter tour that was outstanding. Have a great trip.
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 11:55 AM
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Personally, I would skip the train and just drive. Train is not that great.
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 12:14 PM
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I would also skip the train. It takes 2 1/2 hours each way, you don't see the canyon at all, and the scenery is not all that good. Plus, you only have about 3 hours at the GC.

The only thing "Indian" that I can think of as a tourist attraction would be the Cameron Trading Post, outside the GC east entrance. There is also an area outside the east entrance where Navajos sell their Indian jewelry.

You don't say how long you will be in the area. But if you want to take a train ride with scenic Views, take the Verde Canyon Railroad, in Clarkdale, west of Sedona.
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 01:24 PM
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Here's the official site for The Train ... http://www.thetrain.com/ ... you can find the departure time from that.

If you've purchased non-refundable tickets stop reading now.

If you haven't purchased tix yet (or can get a refund) then I'll just point out that the GC Train is one of the two biggest tourist traps in Arizona (the Skywalk is the 2nd).

There are several reasons for this:

* the cost is several hundred dollars more than simply driving the 60 miles from Williams.

* the time spent on the train is too long (the tracks are in poor shape so they go slow), about 4.5 - 5 hours vs 2 hours in a vehicle.

* if doing the one-day trip then you will be at the busiest part of the Canyon at the worst time of the day for crowds and for actually viewing the canyon. Most of the trips arrive around noon - 12:30 and leave around 3:30 so you are there mid-day. The canyon looks much better either early or late in the day (sunrise/sunset are the best times, still fine until mid-morning and beginning a couple hours before sunset).

The tracks run parallel to the highway thru non-scenic grasslands and then heavy forest, you never get a view of the GC from the train (some of the advertising is very misleading on this). You get off at the station across the street from El Tovar and then finally get a view, elbow-to-elbow with hundreds of others plus all the train folks.

Driving and spending a night on the rim and riding the free shuttles is much cheaper and a much better experience. There are some super train rides in the southwest (Durango to Silverton comes to mind) but this is not one of them.

Is there an Indian reservation near either Flagstaf or Scotsdale that is a tourist stop?

Yep, several on the border with Scottsdale ... look for the flashing signs of the Casinos The Navajo reservation is north of Flagstaff, you'll go thru the SW corner of it if you take the east exit thru Cameron. Mike described the shopping opps, I'd recommend the Cameron trading post or one of the road-side shops.

Here's a link to the Arizona casinos, scroll down to see the ones near Scottsdale: http://www.arizona-leisure.com/arizona-casinos.html
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Old Feb 16th, 2011, 01:33 AM
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The train was great fun, and there's a wild west show before the train leaves at Williams station in downtown Williams.

The same actors staged a train 'robbery' on the way back, and 4 year old Nate still treasures the Sherif's spent blank cartridge from his revolver!
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Old Feb 16th, 2011, 07:38 AM
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Man in seat 61, You are some kind of train fanatic. I was suprised to find that you are new to fodors and every single comment that you make is about trains. I guess that must be your thing. I must admit that train rides aren't that great for myself. My all time favortie ride was in Alaska.
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Old Feb 17th, 2011, 03:29 AM
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I just love travel! As it happens, the train ride to the GC was a side trip from our Route 66 road trip in a 31 foot RV from LA to DC.

But anyone who loves travel will love seeing where you're going rather than flying over it, and ships and trains (as opposed to planes and buses) let you move around, don't strap you in, give you a restaurant to eat in and a bed to sleep in. What's not to like?!
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Old Feb 17th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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What I don't like about it is that you can't stop when you want to. Especially at a place like the GC where there are so many great viewpoints. Another big problem, for me, is that I am on the trains schedule instead of my own. I think at some point I will take a sure enough "train trip", maybe in Europe, but I still think it is far better to do the GC in a car over a train. But, If you really like trains, then it would be a shame to miss it.
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