The Grand Canyon
Railway is a journey to
remember to a place
you can’t forget.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GRAND CANYON RAILWAY & RESORT
Atrip in time
By Steve Fisher
SOME PEOPLE CLAIM time travel is
not possible. Those people have never
experienced the Grand Canyon Railway
Located in the small, serene, 1950s-
style northern Arizona town of Williams,
the resort lets visitors step back in time
and experience the Grand Canyon’s
beauty from a unique perspective.
A modern hotel that mirrors the
architecture of the original train station
and hotel erected in the early 20th century features 287 deluxe rooms and 11 suites,
including the exclusive 1,000-square-foot Rail
The railway, built in 1901 for mine operations in the canyon, became a popular method
of showcasing the canyon to the public. It was
the transportation of choice until it stopped
running in the late 1960s, after the park was
opened to automotive traffic. Twenty years
later, Max Biegert, a retired businessman, and
his wife, Thelma, refurbished the train and the
dilapidated depot and breathed new life into
the operation—and Williams.
The rail carriages are all authentic, restored
editions of classic cars, with five classes of service: coach; club; first; deluxe observation, with
a scenic dome that offers panoramic views; and
luxury parlor, with plush couch seating, elegant
décor, comfortable spaciousness and access to
an open-air platform at the rear of the train.
Refreshments are served, from soft drinks in
coach to coffee and pastries in club to afternoon
champagne and snacks in the luxury cars.
Packages can mix options: I was seated in
coach for the two-and-a-quarter-hour trip to
the Grand Canyon, but I moved to the luxury
parlor car on the return leg.
I booked a two-night package with a trip
to the canyon on the second day. Included were
round-trip train transportation, entertainment
and buffet breakfast and dinner at Max &
Thelma’s Restaurant, located between the depot
and the hotel.
The train offers relaxation, excitement and
Old West entertainment. While we enjoyed the
passing scenery, from open range to pristine
forest, entertainers in cowboy garb regaled us
with comedy and song, and train employees in
period attire offered absorbing commentary on
the history of the train and its surroundings.
But the biggest thrill was at the end of the
Arriving at the Grand Canyon’s historic
depot around lunchtime, we ascended the
steps to the celebrated El Tovar Hotel and
caught our first glimpse of the canyon. Multicolored strata of rock at first seemed like a
painting, a spectacular vista spreading as far
as the eye could see. On closer inspection, the
primordial outcroppings and natural excavations became a sculpture of a scope no human
artist could achieve.
After a few hours to explore or take an
optional motor coach rim tour, it was time to
get back on the train, around 4 p.m., for the
return to Williams. (It’s also possible to spend
an optional night at a lodge to experience an
exquisite sunset and sunrise over the canyon.)
Just when you think the trip will be uneventful, masked bandits hold up the train … but it’s
all in fun.
As I departed Williams for the plane home,
I couldn’t help but feel wistful having to return
to the present. C
The Costco Connection
A variety of Grand Canyon Railway & Resort
packages are available from Costco Travel. Visit
costco.com and click on “Travel” or call toll-free 1-877-849-2730.
TRAVEL TO THE
GRAND CANYON BY RAIL
Costco members save 10%
off packages that include vintage
coach-class train travel from
Williams, AZ to the South Rim of
the Grand Canyon, lodging and
1-night packages from $159 per person
2-night packages from $249 per person
3-night packages from $391 per person
Prices are valid for travel through 10/14/07.
Visit costco.com or call Costco
Travel toll free at 1-877-849-2730.
*Package prices include taxes and are per person based on adult double
occupancy. Prices do not include National Park entry fee. Youth and
child prices are also available. Seasonal surcharges, availability, blackout
dates and restrictions may apply. Ask about prices for additional dates.
Travel purchases are not included in the Executive Membership 2%
Reward program. All prices are in U.S. dollars. Costco Travel disclaims
liability for any inaccuracies or typographical errors. Costco Travel
is a registered seller of travel and travel agency in the following
states: Washington ( WS T 602042600); Ohio (8789302); Florida (Fla.
Seller of Travel Reg. No.S T32555); and California (CS T 2054248-50).
Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the
state of California. Nevada (Nevada Seller of Travel, Registration