“Beyond the Rails” is the name given to cities along the Amtrak Railway System that we have chosen to visit on our cross country train adventures. These cities will also be featured in our soon to be published book “All Aboard, Now What?”.
Planning our cross-country train adventure, one definite must see on my list, is to visit the Grand Canyon! A newbie to train travel, I quickly learned that you “can’t get there from here”. Amtrak does not have a stop at the Grand Canyon, however, you can get pretty close to the canyon and for us that meant a visit to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Flagstaff, Arizona was one of the most pleasant surprises on our cross-country train trip adventure. I love when your expectation of a destination is far exceeded by the reality of the location. In all honesty, I expected a sleepy, quiet little town with nothing more than a bench to wait on at the train station.
I could not have been more wrong. Flagstaff is a bustling little city where I would love to spend more time. Friendly, clean, inviting, walkable, Flagstaff is loaded with shops, restaurants and nightlife. And most importantly, everything is within a short walking distance of the train station.
If you have a car you will find large shopping plazas and grocery stores to restock your supplies just minutes away. Renting a car is a more budget friendly way to visit the Grand Canyon. We had great luck and service from Budget Rental at 175 West Aspen, Flagstaff, AZ. Less than a five minute walk from the train station. For our family of five a $40 rental car and a great guide route from the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce (adjacent to the train station ~ a one minute walk) made my goal of seeing the Grand Canyon a very exciting and pleasant reality.
Here is a map of the monuments, national parks and directions to the south rim of the canyon.
In addition to the grand canyon, which was spectacular, we enjoyed the Wupatki Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument. A photo/video montage of this adventure is in the making and will be available shortly, complete with teenage commentary about their mother’s driving!
Our best decision was to bypass the advertised train/bus/concierge opportunities of the popular Williams Junction train depot and to continue on to Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff surpassed my every expectation, it is a larger, busier, more interesting city on the famous route 66 than I had originally anticipated.