See Inside The ONLY Train That Goes to the Grand Canyon

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Written by Drew Wood

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Grand Canyon
© Beth Ruggiero-York/

Did you know you can take a train to the Grand Canyon? In this video, Mike Downie, better known as YouTuber DownieLive, continues his journey across the continent. He travels from the southernmost to the northernmost train station in America. But his bucket-list trip on the Grand Canyon Railway doesn’t end quite the way he expects.

Grand Canyon Facts

Travel in Grand Canyon, man Hiker with backpack enjoying view

Pictures really cannot do justice to the overwhelming beauty and vast size of the Grand Canyon. You have to see it for yourself.

©Nikolas_jkd/iStock via Getty Images

  • The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona in the United States and is a massive, steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River over millions of years. It is one of the most recognizable and popular natural landmarks in the world.
  • The canyon is over 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep. It covers over 1.2 million acres and is divided into two main areas, the North Rim and the South Rim.
  • The Grand Canyon is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including coyotes, mountain lions, mule deer, and California condors.

The journey for Mike and his buddy Will starts in Williams, Arizona. This is a town of 3,000 on Route 66 that seems like a piece of America frozen in time.

The town combines the nostalgia of the Old West with 1950s America. They’re about to board the Grand Canyon Railway. It is a 64-mile-long railroad built in 1901 and is now part of the National Registry of Historic Places.

Before it was built, the only way to get to the Grand Canyon was by horse and wagon. They get a feel for those frontier days by taking in a gunslinger show. It showcases some desperados comically apprehended by the sheriff. But Mike wonders if he’s really seen the last of them.

©Adrian Geszvain/

The guys upgrade their tickets to luxury class and it’s totally worth it! They ride in a dome car with uber-comfortable reclining seats and curved windows that provide a 360-degree view. Downstairs is a spacious bar and lounge with vintage furnishings.

It gives them a place to socialize with other passengers and relax. They also have access to an outdoor deck at the end of the train. Imagine Presidents of a bygone era making campaign speeches from just such a platform.

The Grand Canyon Trip

The trip takes a little over two hours. As they get closer, the landscape changes drastically. Going from barren plains to scrublands to rocky forested highlands in the Kaibab National Forest. Finally, they arrive at the Grand Canyon Depot on the south rim. One of only 3 remaining wooden train depots left in the United States.

The Grand Canyon itself defies description, and no picture or video can truly do it justice. At a mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 270 miles long, its sheer size is stunning. Not to mention, the varied rock layers and the way its colors morph as the angle of the sun changes during the day.

It’s no wonder even a tough guy like Will would get emotional about this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It all goes to prove to Mike, “These trains can create some of the best friends and memories. Life is better with friends.”

On the way back they ride an old-style Pullman car. Thinking the most exciting part of the trip is over, Will falls asleep. But remember those outlaws from Williams? Yeah. They escaped! The desperados chase down the train on horseback and board the train. They begin to walk down the aisle and relieve delighted tourists of dollar-bill tips.

It all goes to show, life can get pretty interesting when you’re open to new experiences. Ready for your trip?

Animals That Live in the Grand Canyon

Gila monster - Heloderma suspectum, poisonous, white background

Gila monsters are large venomous lizards indigenous to the Grand Canyon and other areas of the Southwest.

©Eric Isselee/

The Grand Canyon is a vast and diverse natural wonder, home to a wide variety of animal species. The animals that call the Grand Canyon home have adapted to the unique and harsh conditions of the region, making it an important habitat for many threatened and endangered species. Here are some of the animals that live in the Grand Canyon:

  • California Condor: The California condor is an endangered species, with only a few hundred remaining in the wild. The Grand Canyon is one of the few places where they still live.
  • Bighorn Sheep: Bighorn sheep are another iconic species that live in the Grand Canyon. You can see them on the rocky cliffs of the Canyon eating grasses and shrubs.
  • Gila Monster: The Gila monster is one of only two species of venomous lizards in the world. Fortunately, they are fairly docile and don’t usually threaten people.
  • Desert Tortoise: The desert tortoise can live up to 80 years. They are an endangered species due to pressure on their habitat. Protected areas like the Grand Canyon are essential to their survival.
  • Peregrine Falcon: The peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 200 mph as it hunts mid-air. That makes them one of the fastest animals on earth!

These are just a few examples of the many animal species that call the Grand Canyon home. Keep a sharp eye out for them and see how many you spot on your own trip to this natural wonder.

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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on mammals, dinosaurs, and geography. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Doctorate in Religion, which he earned in 2009. A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, reading, and caring for his four dogs.

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