Visit the Grand Canyon but leave your car behind

You don’t need a car when visiting the Grand Canyon, and in the interest of environmental conservation (not to mention saving dollars on gas and allowing everyone to relax and enjoy the trip), consider these alternate ways of getting to this spectacular destination.  After arrival, shuttle buses will take you to popular sites and trail heads within the park.

Grand Canyon Railway

A fun and popular way to arrive at the Grand Canyon is by train. Traveling via the Grand Canyon Railway relieves the Grand Canyon of some 50,000 cars annually.

Canyon walls are comprised of multi-colored rocks

The Grand Canyon Railway makes daily round-trip excursions from Williams, Ariz., 60 miles to the south, to the Grand Canyon Depot in the heart of the village. Visitors with an appreciation for history will enjoy the fact that their arrival at Grand Canyon National Park is similar to the experience visitors had 100 years ago, when construction of the Grand Canyon Depot, one of only 14 log depots ever constructed in the U.S. and one of only three remaining log depots, was completed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Vacationers taking the Grand Canyon Railway arrive at the South Rim around noon. Some travelers opt to spend a few hours in the park, perhaps having lunch at the historic and elegant El Tovar Hotel and exploring Grand Canyon Village, before re-boarding the train for the return to Williams in the late afternoon. If you wish to stay longer–and you almost certainly will–you can purchase a Grand Canyon Railway package that includes one or more nights at a lodge in the Grand Canyon.

Take Amtrak

If you’re traveling from the West Coast, consider Amtrak train service from Union Station in Los Angeles to Williams, Arizona. There passengers are met by a Grand Canyon Railway bus for the 10-minute bus ride to the Williams Depot where you can catch the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon as described above. The overnight trip takes nine-hours and 35-minutes, departing Los Angeles daily at 6:55 p.m. and arriving in Williams at 4:30 a.m.

A close-up view of the Colorado River cutting through canyon walls

Catch 40 winks on the return trip, which departs Williams at 9:33 p.m. and arrives at Union Station at 8:15 a.m. From there, Amtrak passengers can catch the Grand Canyon Railway at 9:30 a.m. One way to spend some of the time between trains is to have breakfast at the Grand Depot Café. The restaurant opens at 6:30 a.m. Prices vary depending on class of service, or contact Vacations by Rail for a fully planned vacation package.

Photos by Beverly Burmeier.

Information courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, concessioner at many national parks.