The town of Williams grew by supporting the railway and the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel was built by the the innovative Fred Harvey in partnership with the Santa Fe Railway, and its restaurant staffed by his famous "Harvey Girls."
The Santa Fe Railway is gone as are the Harvey Girls, but the train chugs on, the hotel has been handsomely refurbished by Xanterra and the railway station still adjoins it. The beds and linens are comfortable and the rooms are quiet, always welcome when traveling. There's a large indoor swimming pool.
Best of all for Levelers, minimal steps and stairs plus a convenient elevator.
Sure, you can drive to the Grand Canyon, but arriving by train is a lot of fun and adds to the experience. Besides, buy a package and the staff schleps your luggage from the hotel to where you stay in the canyon and back to the hotel.
The GCR hotel has many historic touches along with innovative recycling and energy saving programs. You can get bar chow in the picturesque bar, but most guests eat at the Depot dining room buffet with pasta, carvery, omelet and pancake stations depending on the time of day.
They're famous for their pies (47 different varieties), all made in-house. Best sellers are the coconut cream or the Oreo pie, but my fave: same as owner Dee Seehorn's, the cherry-apple-peach combo.
|Pine Country Restaurant pie.|
Another tip, take time to visit nearby Bearizona. Owned by the same family that developed Bear Country U.S.A., the 160-acre preserve gets you up close and almost personal with a fascinating array of critters from the bears of the title to raptors, wolves, Dahl sheep, racoons and a handsome pair of bobcats.
Before you board, you'll be entertained by a pair of singing cowboys and a pseudo shootout, after which you and the kids can visit with the actors and pet their horses.
There are four classes of handsomely refurbished, air-conditioned cars:
Those in the know recommend the observation dome into the canyon, the luxury parlor on the way out.
Warning, Levelers, there are steps up to the observation cars. Bars and snacks are available at all levels of service, mostly complimentary at the highest ones.
The ride is a pleasant one and those booted troubadours will be singing here, too.
On the return trip, weather permitting, you might be on the lookout for bandits. The train is frequently "robbed" although Marshall Goodmore has unblemished record of nabbing desperadoes.
Next post: Inside the Grand Canyon.