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GC Railway Tour Package

Albuquerque, New...
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GC Railway Tour Package

Hello GC experts. We (husband and myself) will be traveling to the GC for just a few days in August. I have been researching lodging and what to do at the South Rim. The GC Railway has a package for 3 days in which we spend two nights (the first and last) at The GC Railway hotel, and the middle night at a lodge in the park. Of course taking the train from Williams to the CG and back

Couple of questions.

1. Has anyone done this package? Is it worth the cost?

2. My biggest concern is that once we check out of the lodge the 2nd morning, we will be on our own and on foot until the train takes us back to Williams at 3:30. Is there enough to do without a car there for this period of time. We are early 50's and don't mind walking and enjoying the scenery.

Any and all input would be great appreciated.

Thanks so much

Evanston, Wyoming
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for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
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1. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

Hate to say this, but everyone on this forum, present company included, is going to recommend that you scrap this program and drive yourself to the park instead. For one, you'll save money by doing so; you'll also have more freedom and flexibility to enjoy the park on your timeframe. Plus, by having a vehicle handy you'll be able to explore more of the park and other areas than you would having to rely on the in-park tour busses and shuttles exclusively.

It only takes about 6.5 hours to get from Albuquerque to Grand Canyon South Rim. Maybe with your three days you could spend a couple in the park and 1 night in Page/Lake Powell or Sedona (or vice versa [1 night at GC, 2 in Page or Sedona]). If you take us up on the suggestion to go to Page, you could then return to Albuquerque via the Hopi Indian Reservation and maybe stop off at the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado. Here's a map of that route ->: http://g.co/maps/sar8f

Though the Grand Canyon Railway can be a fun kind of "Old West Historic" experience, it is not a particularly time-efficient means to see the park. It takes the railway 2:15 to make a trip that would just take you 1 hour by car. Then there's the timing of its arrival and departure, which as you have gathered, leaves you with a lot of time to kill without access to a hotel room.

Here's a video that discusses this "dilemma" (drive vs. train) in more detail ->: http://youtu.be/xysC8k6JIEs

Hope this helps.

Edited: 25 March 2012, 15:34
Wickenburg, Arizona
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2. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

Well, yes, I was also going to say do this by yourself, drive to the park and stay in a rim lodge. Being inside the park by yourself would not be the problem, there's a free shuttle taking you to many of the important viewpoints, but you'd rather spend the time more flexibly and independently. The train ride itself is not more scenic than driving - the train goes to the GC, but you can't see it before you're at the park anyway. Nothing against Williams, but you'd really rather spend a second night inside the Grand Canyon, or yes, add Page to your itinierary.

An in-park room would need to be booked ASAP.

For the in-park hotels, visit www.grandcanyonlodges.com or call 888-297-2757

Failing that you can get lodging right outside the south gate (main entrance to the park) in Tusayan, about ten minutes' drive from the rim.

Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

Thanks so much for the suggestions. I failed to mention that we will be arriving to Williams from California. This trip is part of a return drive from California where we have some family time in August. We have a few extra days before returning home, so we thought that we would stop at the Grand Canyon. I don't think we will have the time to drive up to Page. Sad to say that dispite being one state away, both my husband and myself haven't been to the Grand Canyon since we were kids. Although, I know the train would be slower than driving, we both really like train rides. I think we will kill the package idea, and take the train one day, and then drive up a second day (we have two full days). We have been to Sedona recently. Beautiful place.

Thanks so much. Guess I will need to figure out lodging. Any suggestions?

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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4. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

I agree with the others. Skip the train package. Your concerns are valid and you'll have a much better experience at the GCNP if you have your own car. Do book a night there in one of the park lodges though and you'll enjoy the full 24 hour cycle.

If you want a train ride, there's a better one down near Sedona. Verde Canyon Railroad. Choose that instead. The scenery is much more dramatic and IMO it is a better run business. So if you have 3 nights to work with, give one to GCNP and 2 to Sedona. Taking a day for the VCRR leaves Sedona a little short, but you'll be thrilled with whatever time you have there.

Evanston, Wyoming
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for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
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5. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

<<Although, I know the train would be slower than driving, we both really like train rides>> Ah - since you guys are train buffs, here's a possible compromise that wouldn't involve you killing a whole day with the full Grand Canyon Railway trip: Xanterra South Rim offers a tour called the "Railway Express" where they bus you down from Grand Canyon Village to Williams in the morning, then you take the 9.30 AM train back to Grand Canyon South Rim. You'd only travel one way on the train, so you'd still get the "Old West Historic" experience with the cowboy poets, etc. but be done with it all by noon. Last I checked though it was only offered certain days of the week and only seasonally, so call the Bright Angel Transportation Desk for more info on it, 928-638-2631 for the in-park switchboard then ask them to transfer you to the BA Trans Desk.

Albuquerque, New...
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6. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

Thank you very mcuh for the suggestions. Both of those suggestions sound great for us. I will look into them.

SF Bay Area
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7. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

My DH and I did the GC Railway as part of an overall rail trip to AZ and NM earlier this month. I agree that the scenery isn't as spectacular as some railroads, but we enjoyed not having to find a parking spot at the Rim. We were able to get a nice BA cabin room in addition because of the specials they were running for Jan. and Feb. Staying with the GC Railway meant that they took care of our bags, so we were free to roam around the Rim without them on both checkin and check out days.

We were there for two nights and three days spread over four, and we still didn't get to everything that we wanted to do. On our last day, we did a sunrise tour, late breakfast at El Tovar, walked for several hours, and went to their grocery store (which I liked better than the Williams Safeway), with plenty of time before the afternoon boarding. I gather from the GC Park Rangers that March starts their tourist season and thus we were glad to be there without the hassles of our car and crowds.

Since you mentioned that you are railroad fans, upgrade for a dome car or the parlor car. We did and it gave us some great shots. Being on the back platform is a lot of fun!

Brantford, Canada
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8. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

My wife and I did this a couple of years ago, I am also a train buff and I really enjoyed it. Your time in Williams is mainly the overnights, best part id the ride and the time at the canyon.... We had dome tickets and enjoyed them.... I love the view of the train ahead of us especially on the curves.

We were not hindered by not having a car at the canyon as there is lots to do and see within walking area around the Village.

All said , as much as I enjoyed it, I will not do it again as it is slow and yes it is expensive.

9. Re: GC Railway Tour Package

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