Saturday 04/16/22 GRAND CANYON RAILWAY & HOTEL At 9:00 AM there was a Wild West Shoot-Out that our train ticket said to watch. It looked cute and lot of fun for kids. After that, everyone was allowed to board the train.
Let me tell you, our train car was incredible! It had an upper deck and we had the two forward facing front seats. There were full windows everywhere and you could see 360 degrees plus the sky. A perfect way to see the countryside. We had complimentary snacks and drinks. The hostess was a former airline stewardess. She said she liked this a lot better. She was entertaining and fun. The train ride is 65 miles and takes 2 hrs and 15 min.
The route goes from the ponderosa pines, down to pinion-juniper trees, desert with very few trees, then back up to ponderosa pines just before you get to Grand Canyon Depot. As we got off the train, we noticed the wind was blowing really hard. We walked across the street to see the Grand Canyon.
It was really unlike anything we had seen before. Very different from the north rim. The wind was so strong and blowing dirt like crazy. I literally had dirt that I could crunch in my teeth.
After looking for a little bit, we went to the Arizona Steakhouse, which was included in the Grand Canyon & Train Package. There was a 45 minute wait so we went back outside and walked around. When it was our turn, they texted Kevin (great way to do it so we didn’t have to stay close). This restaurant is fine dining. The meal included an appetizer, entree, and dessert. We had tortilla soup which was different then what we have ever had. It had lots of beans and tomatoes. It was more of a broth than creamy. We liked it. Next we had the burger (I can’t remember the name) that had pepper jack cheese, aloha, and guacamole. It was so tall that I used a knife and fork to eat mine. The meat was very flavorful. For dessert we had cheesecake. Roll us out the door!
Our table was by the window so we could see the walking path on the rim right next our window. We noticed that no one was smiling as they walked! The wind was truly miserable. People would hustle to the edge, take a picture, and then hunker down, face down, and walk quickly away. After lunch, which was nice and slow and leisurely, we walked to our hotel.
We had to be on the bus for our sunset tour at 5:00. But we had time to get back. Oh, I forgot to say, masks were required for the train and the shuttles and buses at Grand Canyon. The views were so pretty. The wind was incredibly strong. In fact, at some places, it would literally blow us back and we would have to take a step back to catch ourselves. That is strong wind! The last stop was to watch the sun set. She knew exactly the time it would set, 7:03. We were at that stop for about 15 minutes before.
It was a very powerful view. From when the tour started until the sun set, the cloud of dirt (and maybe smoke) got thicker and thicker. At the setting sun time, the dirt made incredible photography! I took a ton of pictures. It will be hard to whittle them down to just a few.
Sunday 04/17/22 GRAND CANYON RAILWAY & HOTEL We didn’t want breakfast this morning, so we jumped on the shuttle around 8:30. I thought the shuttles would be packed but there was only one other couple on. We took the shuttle to the Visitor’s Center. It didn’t open until 10:00 but it is limited in what you can see there due to covid restrictions anyway. We saw the bookstore was open so Kevin was able to get his National Park passport stamped.
Then we went to the rim. You can definitely see a lot more here than by the village. We took our time and walked the Rim Trail. Today? No a bit of wind! The few people we saw out and about all had smiles on. We continued our walk along the rim to the village. We ended up getting a box sandwich lunch from the lunchette there. We sat on a bench and Kevin said, “We don’t get much better view for lunch.”
We walked inside the El Tovar which was the first hotel there. It is very dark wood and dark inside. Some of President Theodore Roosevelt’s game that he caught are mounted there on the walls. We sat outside on the large porch in rockers and watched people for a little bit. Soon it was time to walk to the train for our 3:30 train ride back to Williams.
Our tickets were for the same awesome seats as before. This hostess was great, too. She had plastic champagne glasses and offered champagne or cider to us once the train started. It went nicely with the complimentary food, including hummus, which I like. The train got “robbed” and any money given went to a charity. When we got off the train, our bags were there on a cart for us to grab. We were in the car by 6:00 pm. We drove home to Needles. We got hungry and so stopped at Kingman for supper. McDonalds was fine. As we got our food and were walking out, Kevin heard a worker yell, “bus!” There was the largest tour bus ever with people getting out and walking to McDonalds. This was at 8:00 at night on Sunday night. Looked like a lot of high school age kids. Glad we were there right before them. 🙂 The entire ride home was lovely and we had great time visiting. We got home at 9:00 pm. It was an amazing birthday gift.
Note to reader: There are several ways to see Grand Canyon, South Rim. You can drive your vehicle and park at Grand Canyon. There you can take the shuttles around. There are also packages you can purchase. One is a train ride from Williams to Grand Canyon and then back to Williams all in one day. The package Kevin got us included: dinner Friday night, hotel in Williams Friday night, Saturday breakfast, train ride on Luxury Dome to Grand Canyon, lunch at Arizona Steakhouse, Sunset Bus Tour of Grand Canyon, hotel at Grand Canyon, Sunday train ride on Luxury Dome to Williams. There are many options to pick from. See the options at thetrain.com