The 64-mile trip from the Williams train station to the Grand Canyon passes through multiple ecosystems, and the train gives you a front-row seat to all of them. Start off among the ponderosa pines and junipers near Route 66 before transitioning to sweeping vistas of scrub prairie. As you approach the canyon, the scene transitions again to lush pinyon pine forests.
Sure, you can see some of the same stuff if you drive, but the view from the highway isn't as good, especially when you've got to keep your eyes on the road.
Visitors can travel through time just by walking through the train's historic railcars, each type from a different era. The star of the show is the original 1923 Pullman car, which features benches that flip so families can face one another and windows that open so you can cool down the same way travelers did in the old days.
Other options include 1950s streamliner cars, retired Amtrak cars, and the more modern First Class and Luxury classes.
A trip through the history of the West wouldn't be complete without music, and travelers can enjoy performances on outbound and return trips. Hear the stylings of a singing cowboy on guitar, then switch things up with the twang of a banjo. In between, each car has its own attendant to point out the sights and share facts and history during your journey.
On the way back, be on the lookout for outlaws. Train robberies aren't as common today as in the Old West, but be prepared for some uninvited guests just in case.
The Grand Canyon Railway's First Class cars are plenty comfy, but for the ultimate train experience, ride the Luxury Parlor car. Plush sofa and booth seating awaits, along with fruit, pastries, coffee, and juice on the outbound trip. On the way back, enjoy complimentary sparkling wine.
Unique to the Luxury Parlor car is an outdoor viewing platform that looks back from the end of the train. Travelers can feel the fresh air blowing by, watch the scenery fly past, and hear the train passing over the tracks. For an extra-cool view, hang on the platform until the train turns, then look back along its length to see the whole train in profile.
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