The Grand Canyon: How to Get the Most from a Short Visit
The Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, is an ideal place for an overnight visit. Here are some ideas about how to get the most from a short visit to the spectacular Grand Canyon.
HOW TO GET TO THE GRAND CANYON
Leave your car in Williams, AZ and take the Grand Canyon Railway's train to the canyon. The train departs daily at 9:30 a.m. and travels to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, arriving at 11:45 a.m. The 65-miles trip takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. The return is at 3:30 p.m., arriving at Williams Depot at 5:45 p.m.
OLD FASHIONED LUXURY ONBOARD GRAND CANYON RAILWAY
The Grand Canyon Railway offers six classes from the $67 Pullman Class to the $219 Luxury Parlor Car. Pullman Class offers the ride in refurbished 1920s passenger cars, Coach Class in streamliner-era cars with bench seats, First Class cars offer comfortable reclining seats, and complimentary snacks and soft drinks, and the Observation Dome Class offers all the comfort of First Class in a glass-enclosed car for a panoramic view.
But it's the elegant Luxury Parlor Car that is by far the best choice if you are looking for some old fashioned luxury and traveling without small children since only 15+ are allowed in this class.
The railway's website, www.thetrain.com, describes it as "an elegant rail baron experience preserved for those who enjoy the finer things, thanks to lounge-style comforts including a private bar and access to the open-air rear platform." It's a truly special experience.
The train travels across stunning Arizona landscape from pine forests to the wide-open prairie. You'll be able to get some beautiful shots from the rear platform.
THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY
Onboard, you will be entertained by cowboy singers, chatting with the attendant, sipping some bubbly, and....keep an eye out for some train robbers.
You may spot some bandana-masked men on horses with guns. The train puts on its breaks, stops, and the masked men board the train demanding cash.
Don't be surprised to see some tourists being fooled and thinking it is real! Strange things can happen in the Wild West. But after the U.S. Marshall has saved the situation, the train proceeds peacefully to its destination.
The Grand Canyon Railroad Station is just a few minutes from the El Tovar Hotel and the viewing platform of the Grand Canyon.
The view of the truly grand canyon, is absolutely breathtaking. You will be in awe of its ravishing beauty, its 200 million to nearly 2 billion-year-old layers of rock and its vivid colors.
It has long been believed that the Colorado River began carving the Grand Canyon about 6 million years ago, but a 2012 study suggested that the process may have begun as far back as 70 million years.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE GRAND CANYON
The legendary El Tovar Hotel, the crown jewel of Historic National Park Lodges, is the most convenient and comfortable place to stay.
The hotel is designed after rustic hunting lodges in Europe, a cross between a Swiss mountain lodge and a Norwegian villa; and is located right on the rim of the canyon.
A couple of the El Tovar's suites have a large private terrace overlooking the canyon. You'll need to book well in advance and you need to call the hotel to reserve a suite.
The design of the suite is quite simple and rustic, but the large terrace offers dizzying views of the canyon. The colors of the magical hours of sunset and sunrise are absolutely stunning.
WHAT TO DO IN THE GRAND CANYON
We are all there for the view, of course! After you have arrived, take a walk alongside the rim of the canyon, but book a Desert View bus tour to explore some areas that are further away for the next morning.
The Desert View Tour takes 3 hours and 45 minutes and ventures 52 miles along the canyon’s east rim. The bus stops at scenic viewpoints and at the Desert View Watchtower. The watchtower is a stone fortress-like structure that looks like an ancient Native American ruin, but is built in 1932 and designed by architect Mary Colter. Its interior walls are decorated with paintings and artwork by Hopi artists and the top floor offers spectacular panoramic views of the canyon.
WHERE TO EAT IN THE GRAND CANYON
The El Tovar Dining Room, decorated in the style of the wealthy Old West with indigenous stone and exposed pine beams, is the most famous one and the most convenient restaurant when you are staying at the El Tovar.
The dining experience is not quite the fine food experience that the restaurant strives to offer, but it offers decent food, but the view is amazing.
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