Seeing the Grand Canyon was something that was on my travel bucket list for the majority of my life until I finally had the chance to see it back in 2012. Unlike a lot of other landmarks and destinations though I find the Grand Canyon is one of those sites that you can return to and always have a different experience. When we were given the chance to take a Grand Canyon Railway Tour the last time we were in Sedona, AZ , Lauren and I hopped at the chance. I mean come on how often do you get to see the Grand Canyon and ride a train in the same day??
Now as full time ramblers, it’s not often that Lauren and I give up the chance to hop in our own car and take a road trip. I mean, we’ve even written a road trip planner on seeing the Grand Canyon on your own. Sometimes though it’s great to let go of the reigns, let someone else do the driving, and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. That’s exactly why we booked our trip with Great West Adventure Co.
Our trip to the Grand Canyon began bright and early (7:00) AM when we were picked up at our Sedona hotel. We met our super friendly driver along with our fellow companions for the day and our trip began. I have to admit, being the guy who usually does most of the driving when we travel it was pretty nice to be able to sit back and just take in the lovely views. Our guide was knowledgeable about both the Sedona area and the Canyon, so he made it quite interesting as we made our way to the first stop: The Grand Canyon Rail Road.
I’m a total train nerd, so I was absolutely giddy to hop on board a train and chug our way to the Grand Canyon. The train ride lasted about 45 minutes and was super fun. There was a breakfast on the train and some spectacular views of the Coconino National Forest.
Onboard the train, they had guides giving us information about what we were seeing as well as entertainment from a local folksinger. Oh and did I mention the beautiful views?
Upon arrival at the Grand Canyon, you get dropped off at the old historical Santa Fe Railway Station.
Once we arrived at the Grand Canyon we had the opportunity to wander around the South Rim Visitors center for a while, have lunch, and explore the area on our own. Even though I had just been there a year before, I was just as stunned by how beautiful and vast it was the second time around.
Once we met up with our guide (who drove the bus there while we got to ride the train in style) he took us through the visitors center and along the South Rim viewing area showing us key points and teaching us how the Grand Canyon was formed. I must say, I was impressed with our guide’s depth of knowledge as well as his passion for teaching us about the area. There are a lot of guides that just “go through the motions” but he seemed to really care. While at the Canyon Rim, he also took the time to show us details we would have otherwise missed.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this tour was the fact that it didn’t only go to the South Rim, but it actually follows East Rim Drive all the way out of the park. That means we got the opportunity to see the Canyon from a variety of angles and really appreciate just how large it truly is.
In total we made 3 -4 stops along the edge of the Grand Canyon at the different viewing points available through the park.
It was also a wonderful opportunity to see the changes in landscape as we headed east.
Oh, and thanks to our guide, we also knew just the right spot to let him take our picture so you could see just how grand this canyon really is. :-)
We finished up our tour at the East Rim Visitors center, which is home to the Grand Canyon Watchtower. We enjoyed a short ride into Navajo Country where we had the chance to shop for some local arts and crafts. After that was done it was time for the 1.5 hour ride back to Sedona. Now normally that would involve me having to drive back to our hotel with the setting sun winking at me over the horizon, while I struggle to stay awake. This time, I got to sit back, relax, and let someone else ramble on…
Details on our Grand Canyon Railway Tour
Great West Adventure Co