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Grand Canyon Railway: Grand Old Train

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Traveling aboard the Grand Canyon Railway on May 6, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed that the Grand Canyon was “…the one great sight which every American should see.”

RVers who want to check out his proclamation have a terrific opportunity in which to follow in Teddy’s tracks; although the train discontinued service in 1968 after transporting such dignitaries and celebrities as the Shah of Iran, President Eisenhower, Queen Fredericka of Greece and Clark Gable, it resumed service in 1988. A variety of locomotives now make the journey from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon 363 days a year.

The magnificent restored trains depart from the Williams Depot and deliver passengers to the original Grand Canyon Depot, the last operating log depot in the United States. Located in the historic district of the National Park and close to the famous El Tovar Hotel, the unusual structure was designed by architect Francis W. Wilson and features a two-story log and wood frame with logs squared on three sides and used for bearing surfaces. It is a National Historic Landmark.


Six classes of service are available on the Grand Canyon Railway, ranging from Pullman to Luxury Parlor Class; Wild West entertainment precedes the journey at the Williams station and various venues are offered on the different coaches. One in particular should be noted: The Polar Express special engagement train was the recipient of the Governor’s Tourism Special Events Award in 2004, and it continues to attract and amaze passengers with its colorful and fun-packed schedule. Running through January, the Polar Express includes holiday-book readings, cookies and hot cocoa and, of course, a visit by Santa, who
boards the train and distributes a gift to each child. This wonderful journey to the “North Pole” can be reserved as a single trip or as part of a special package that offers an overnight stay in the Grand Canyon, a couple meals and various tours.

For RVers, there’s even more. See campground information to take full advantage of a visit to President Roosevelt’s must-see attraction.

For more information: www.thetrain.com

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