The Grand Canyon has always been on the top of 'must see' National Parks. My first experience visiting the park was via a road trip; and was highlighted in bold as a major stop. The enormous golden red canyon took my breath away with its beauty and sheer size. Since then, I have visited the Grand Canyon a number of times and each visit offers a different perspective.
Taking a rail journey on the Grand Canyon Railway by steam locomotive is a rare chance to scale the vastness of the park in a unique way. Fueled by recycled vegetable oil, the GCR will offer special runs on its steam-powered “Cataract Creek Rambler” on Labor Day weekend as well as a roundtrip run to the Grand Canyon Sept. 18, 2010. Train admirers will be treated to a ride on an authentic vintage steam locomotive. The No. 4960 was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia and has been completely restored to its original lustre. Eight-mile trips are offered throughout the days of Sept. 4 and 5, 2010 with a single class of service in the train’s historic 1923 Harriman cars. Trains depart on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A special “photo run by” will leave at 6:00 p.m. Tickets for the “Cataract Creek Rambler” will be sold on-site for unreserved seating and will cost $15 for adults and $10 for children 15 and under.
Travelers interested in a longer journey aboard the No. 4960 should consider the Sept.18 steam excursion. Passengers will be able to enjoy the Railway’s regular 65-mile scenic journey from Williams, Ariz. to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and back to the Williams Depot. The train departs Williams at 9:30 a.m. and arrives at the Grand Canyon Depot at 11:45 a.m. For the return trip the train departs the Grand Canyon at 3:30 p.m. and arrives in Williams at 5:45 p.m. The Railway’s typical four classes of service will be used. Rates for adults range from $70 to $190, and children’s rates range from $40 to $110. Children 15 and under are permitted only in the coach and first classes.
For the total "train" experience travelers can stay overnight at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel which resembles a historic train depot and hotel. Getaway packages are available and might be the perfect fall weekender vacation for a railway hobbyist.
Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724).
The Grand Canyon Railway is operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Xanterra also operates lodges, restaurants and accommodations at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. For reservations inside the park and for more information go to www.grandcanyonlodges.com.