The Grand Canyon Railway is a thriving tourist train in Williams Arizona. The associated RV park there is one of the nicest in the country. The railway was built in 1901 by the Atchison Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad. The train service led to an increase in tourism to the area and the railroad was a leader in building the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. ATandSF designed and built the El Tovar Hotel. The railroad ended service in 1968 but a couple from Phoenix bought the line and resumed operations in 1989.
Today its still a great way to visit the park. The train depot is close to the South Rim and provides easy access to the park’s shuttle bus system. We had 3+ hours to hop on and hop off the buses and to many sights in the park while eating our picnic lunch. We felt great about seeing so much using public transport.
Grand Canyon National Park is still a not-to-be-missed wonder of the world. At up to 18 miles wide 277 miles long and over a mile deep it is a bit overwhelming. The rock exposed at the bottom is nearly as old as the earth itself. The park service has an excellent film narrated by Peter Coyote. Visiting on your own takes some planning. The park is extremely popular with people coming from all over the world. Plan to see the most popular areas early or late in the day to avoid the crowds. We were lucky to find free dispersed camping near the Desert View Watchtower side of the park so we got in early. The watchtower was designed by Mary Colter. The human history of the park is a whole other story. Native Americans have lived here for thousands of years. One armed Major John Wesley Powell was the first to run the river by boat in 1869 after having his boats shipped from Chicago via the new Transcontinental Railroad. President Theodore Roosevelt created Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908 shortly after the Antiquities Act was passed. Mining and land interests keep the canyon from becoming a national park until 1919. It was the 17th such park. Amazing it wasn’t #3 or 4.