Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Grand Canyon--WOW!

Yesterday I had a fantastic day taking the train from Williams, Arizona, to Grand Canyon National Park. I'm so glad I decided to do this. Every time I go to a national park, I am grateful for the experience.

Xanterra does a great job running the Grand Canyon Railway, hotel, RV park, restaurants, kennel and other concessions in Williams. I'm staying at the RV park, which is one of the nicest I've seen on my travels so far. After my full and active day yesterday, I'm staying an extra night here to take advantage of the amenities--showers, laundry, the pool and hot tub over at the hotel, good WIFI connection, etc. I'm having a "catch up" day--continuing to sort through my stuff and get rid of things that it turns out I haven't needed, finding better ways to stow the stuff I actually need, working on eBay, etc.

As I sit here this morning in The Guppy, I can hear the gunshots from the silly cowboy skit they do before you board the train--full of corny jokes, a lot of them about horse puckey.
There is also entertainment aboard the train...my favorite performer was Clarence Clearwater, who sang in many languages and had a great message of sobriety and spirituality to share with the general public. He also told corny jokes! What a character!
There is a steward on each train car who makes sure you are comfortable, points out mountains and wildlife along the way, and answers everybody's questions. I didn't manage to get any photographs of the elk we saw along the way, but I did some get some yearlings that were kicking up some dust as they ran across the range.
If you take the train up just for the day like I did, you have about four hours to spend in the Park. This doesn't give you time to take the free shuttle buses to the extreme ends of the road that goes along the Canyon's South Rim, but you can go part way and come back, or just stay in the "village" part of the park and walk along the paved South Rim trail. I did a little of both. I probably walked about 3 miles and rode maybe 10, getting different viewpoints of the Canyon. The awesomeness of the Canyon speaks for itself, so here are some pictures:

Is this amazing or what?! It was a glorious day to spend up there--crisp and cool in the morning, then pretty warm (over 60 degrees) in the afternoon. Still some snow on the ground, but spring is on its way.

There were more people going to the Grand Canyon than I'd expected. I forgot that it's spring break for many schools right now. On the way back to Williams, the kids on the train were mightily entertained when the train robbers showed up! (And the kids were savvy enough to realize these were the same cowboys who had all been plugged at the end of the skit in the morning, too!)

I was tired and completely satisfied by my visit to the Grand Canyon. My favorite part of the return trip was just watching the landscape go by and reflecting on my wonderful day. I got a pretty good shot of San Francisco Peaks, which are just north of Flagstaff, the area I'm heading to next. This photo is from the north, and over the next few days I will probably see these mountains from the south.


  1. I was at the North Rim of the G.C. in May of 2009. I definitely want to go back, and spend more time. Even considering a workkamp position there so I can explore all around the area.

  2. I could see doing work camping in this area, too, Teri. It's beautiful and there is a lot to explore.

  3. What a wonderful adventure! I just love guided tours in which the tour guides are interested in what they do. It really makes the experience so much more entertaining and enjoyable. Beautiful photos!

  4. Sue, you noticed on your trip that it is all Open Range around there and that reminded me of this story. Back-in-the-day (about 1964) I rode the Cab of a Santa Fe RR GP9 Locomotive from GC to Williams Junction and back. The northbound trip was very early morning. I had wondered why there was a .22 hung above the Cab door. When a big old Bull stepped out onto the Track and stopped I learned what the gun was for. The Engineer repeatedly blew the whistle to no avail. So the Fireman took down the Rifle and shot the Bull and he lumbered off the Track, the Engineer released the Air and Widened on the Throttle and we went on our way to GC. It was Bird Shot he used which did no harm to the Bull but got him moving. For some time this particular critter had been making a game of stopping the Train until the Rancher told the Enginemen what to do.

  5. And thanks for the Grand Canyon PICs, Sue. That took me back. As a teenager I spent part of each Summer at The Canyon. I would sometimes sit for hours on the Rim just watching the cloud shadows and the changes in light and shadow.

  6. And thanks for the bull story, Lew! I loved it! I agree, just sitting by the rim watching the changing view is the best. I've often thought it would be ideal to set up a hammock somewhere just off the trail and watch the day go by in the Canyon.

  7. Hi, MFS Sue!

    The pictures are SO nice! Where are you now?
    The weather looks fabulous!!

    YFS Sharon