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The Grand Canyon Railway

We are the Rozek Family and have been living and traveling the US fulltime in our 28’ RV since Sep 2019. Finding adventure and experiences wherever we can @rozekwild. Recently we went to the Grand Canyon and rode the Train into the National Park. We asked our sons Nathan (13) and Dillon (11) to write about their experience. 

It was really early… the sky was still dark but we loaded up and hit the road. The train station was in Williams AZ and was about an hour away. Once we arrived we got our boarding tickets. While we were waiting for them to call “All Aboard” we were told to walk to the end of the depot and there would be a show, it was an old west Gun Show with the “Cataract Crew”.

The show was very intense and super exciting especially when they shot the first bullet! The most intense part of the show was when the sheriff was all by himself versus three bad guys and of course, he won the battle. They even pulled someone from the audience to participate. Our hearts were pounding. After all that excitement, we finally were able to board the train.

Fiddler on the Train

Once we were on and the train started moving they gave us some rules and history of the area. All along the ride, they pointed out interesting things. About an hour in, we were told that some entertainment was coming!

A while later they came, it was a real surprise when a man walked through the door with a fiddle! He was really funny and good at playing the fiddle. He told jokes, played songs and was pretty goofy.

After about 10 minutes he asked for a volunteer to come to play and Dillon happened to get up to move to a different seat at the same time and was picked. As Dillon started playing an old man got up from his seat and started dancing! The whole train car started cracking up while clapping to the beat of the song.

After the man went to a different train car there were only about 30 minutes left until we will get to the grand canyon. We went to the bathroom (yes there were toilets on the train!) We had finally made it to the Grand Canyon! The whole ride took about 2 hours. Luckily we didn’t have to stop and check-in because the train tickets also included the entry into the park.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon

The Train Depot was in the center of town. We walked over to the free shuttle and rode it all the way to the Visitors Center. From there we could look inside the Visitor Center or walk the Grand Canyon Rim Trail. Our family chose the rim trail. 

Just before we got to the edge, right beside the trail laying under the trees were a bunch of elks! It was so cool, we have never seen a wild elk up close before. They just laid there and let us take pictures.

As soon as we stepped on the trail and looked over the edge our breath was taken away. It was like our depth perception was all messed up, the whole thing was so beautiful and green, everywhere you looked there were things coming out of the ground.

You could see layers and layers in the rock that looked like it was going back to the beginning of time. There are no words to explain how big and deep the Grand Canyon is. We were glad we had binoculars with us to see all the details better. We even saw people way down that looked like tiny ants.

Bring your own water bottles

At the Grand Canyon, they do not sell disposable water bottles anywhere. You have to bring or buy a refillable water bottle all through the park and along the trail are filling stations. These stations are natural spring-fed water. The park is really strict on trash and waste being thrown into the canyon and so they stopped selling water bottles.

The Grand Canyon Rim Trail

Along the Rim Trail, there was a sign that said “The Grand Canyon Through the Years”. There were a lot of big rocks with plaques and information explaining how the canyon had changed and developed over time, some were from not that long ago all the way back to millions of years old. All of them were found in the Grand Canyon.

Squirrel!

About the middle of the trail, we decided to take a lunch break. We brought our own food, but before this, someone had warned us that there are crazy squirrels. They basically aren’t scared of humans and they try to get your food and will do almost everything possible to get a bite. 

We couldn’t believe how close and aggressive they were! Not at all like Skelly. After the squirrel invasion, we started the trail again. At the end of the trail we took another free shuttle to the Village.

Grand Canyon Village

In the village, there were restaurants, shops, hotels, cabins. We looked through all the shops because of Mom… we bought a sticker for our trailer and postcards. We get postcards everywhere we go and use them as a journal of all of our travels. Overall our Grand Canyon experience was amazing, beautiful, and breathtaking.

Leaving the Grand Canyon – Back on the Train

We still had the train ride back which we were pretty excited about because Dad said we could go to the snack car. Once we got back on the train we had to wait until the Cafe opened, because they are not allowed to sell anything while still in the National Park.

Walking between the train cars was super weird; you could see the ground below as the cars moved. Mom and Dad bought us Sarsaparilla in glass bottles which were really good! After a while, another person came in the car for entertainment but he had a guitar this time. He played music for us and it was really good. Some of the songs were modern ones we knew. We all enjoyed it.

We Got Robbed!

About an hour later the sheriff from the gun show came in. He warned us all that we are about to get robbed and the only way to stop them was to give the robbers money or they will take our moms because they didn’t have anyone to cook for them. The sheriff also told us that we have to hide the money in plain sight so they could see it since they are the Cataract Crew.

Pretty soon we looked out the windows and saw cowboys on horses. They “shot our tires” and the train stopped. The robbers took their chance and boarded the train. When the robbers came into our car we all screamed.

As they passed by us taking our money they grabbed Dillon, he started fake crying and saying “please please take my money not my mommy.” The robber then proceeded to pick him up and yelled: “let’s hang him.” Another robber said “no no no we need to make a good impression in front of the moms.” The robber that had Dillon threw him back into his seat and he laid there paralyzed in fear until they left. It was so funny! Everyone in the car thought he was hilarious.

We knew they were coming and it was all fake so playing along made the ride fun and go by quick. The sheriff came in and asked “Where did robbers go? How many were there?” We all said “three and they went in the car behind us.” The sheriff left to go catch up to them. Then it was a smooth ride back to the train station.

From the train station, we headed back home to our campground amazed, happy, and tired. It was a long day and definitely a fun way to experience the Grand Canyon.

-Nathan & Dillon

For more information on the Grand Canyon Railway visit https://www.thetrain.com/

To see more of our adventures visit https://exploreplaylive.com/