Monday, March 04, 2013

Grand Canyon National Park - Go Green with Alternative Transportation

"Ditching the car and exploring Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park using alternative forms of transportation – including two-legged, four-legged and wheeled modes – is surprisingly easy, affordable and healthy for travelers as well as the environment. Use mass transportation, bike or walk whenever possible to reduce air pollution as well as congestion on the roads."

So says the press release I received from Mesereau Public Relations and guess what? I agree with this so wanted to share with you. I have shortened the original release and added photos they provided!   — Karen Kefauver

“By using alternative forms of transportation, travelers can spend less time watching the road and more time taking in the spectacular scenery of the Grand Canyon,” said Bruce Brossman, regional director of sales and marketing for Xanterra South Rim and Grand Canyon Railway. “Between the National Park Service’s free shuttle system, Xanterra’s various transportation offerings and your own two legs, it is a simple matter to explore the Canyon without ever returning to the parked car.”

While you may want to use a car to get here, once you’re there you really don’t need it, and in fact, using alternative transportation frees up travelers.

Travelers can bring their own bikes or rent from Bright Angel Bicycles, which offers rentals by the hour, and for half, full and multiple days as well as guided tours. Travelers can ride on portions of the park’s greenway trail system and on park roads. Bicyclists can take self-guided tours directly from the rental kiosk or take a free NPS shuttle to any drop-off. Shuttles can accommodate a maximum of three bicycles. The bicycle rental kiosk is located at the National Park Service Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

By foot
There are also a variety of tours and activities in Grand Canyon Village. For example, visitors to the Grand Canyon can take a self-guided walking tour of the historic district of Grand Canyon Village. Brochures providing interesting information about each of the stops are available at no charge from the front desk of each lodging facility. Interesting and historic sites within walking distance of Grand Canyon Village are the famed El Tovar Hotel, the Bright Angel History Room, Hopi House, Kolb Studio and Lookout Studio.

Parking is Free and Free Shuttle System
There are numerous parking lots around the South Rim, including several centrally located in Grand Canyon Village as well as a variety of satellite lots. The National Park Service’s free shuttle system stops to pick up and drop off passengers every 15 minutes at a variety of shuttle stops throughout the park as well as the town of Tusayan during the summer season.

Grand Canyon Railway
A fun and popular way to arrive at the Grand Canyon is by train. Grand Canyon Railway makes daily round-trip excursions from Williams, Ariz. some 65 miles south to the historic Grand Canyon Depot in the heart of the village. And visitors with an appreciation of history will enjoy learning that their arrival at Grand Canyon National Park is similar to the experience that visitors had more than 100 years ago, when construction of the Grand Canyon Depot – one of only 14 log depots ever constructed in the U.S. and one of only three remaining log depots – was completed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.Train passengers bypass the park entrance and proceed directly to the depot, situated near El Tovar. Park fees are paid in advance.

Travelers can also choose the Railway Express Tour. This trip includes a one-way van trip from Grand Canyon National Park in the morning to Williams, a Wild West shootout at the historic Grand Canyon Railway Depot and a return trip to the park aboard Grand Canyon Railway. The trip aboard the train includes strolling musicians who entertain in each car. Grand Canyon Railway arrives back in the park around lunchtime.

Did you know?:
 Traveling via Grand Canyon Railway relieves the Grand Canyon of some 35,000 cars annually.
For more information visit

Amtrak Train Service
Amtrak offers train service from Union Station in Los Angeles to Williams, where passengers are met by a Grand Canyon Railway shuttle for the 10-minute bus ride to the Williams Depot. From there, passengers can catch Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon. Prices vary depending on class of service. Travelers will have time between trains to enjoy breakfast at the Grand Depot Café, which serves made-to-order omelets as well as a variety of other breakfast dishes. The restaurant opens for breakfast at 6:30 a.m.

Mule Travel
Another way to see the Canyon is by mule, sometimes called “long-eared taxis.” Xanterra’s popular Abyss Overlook Mule Ride is a good option for travelers who desire a mule experience but cannot take the two-day mule ride that travels to Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Canyon. Two-day mule tours are typically booked many months in advance so Xanterra advises travelers to plan ahead. 

Did you know?: Mules have been a mode of tourist transportation in the Grand Canyon for more than a century.

Motorcoach tours
One of the most popular ways to view and learn about the Canyon is on a motorcoach tour.  The drivers are well-trained and entertaining. For most tours there is no charge for passengers under the age of 16 when accompanied by a paying adult. Xanterra offers a two-hour tour to Hermit’s Rest along the West Rim; a three-hour, 45-minute tour to the Watchtower along the East Rim and 90-minute Sunrise and Sunset tours. All tours include extensive interpretive information offered by drivers and stops at scenic points along the way.

Tip: The combination tour offers the best value.

Visitors can book their rooms online by visiting or by calling toll-free 1-888-297-2757 or
 1-303-297-2757 from outside the United States. More information about Grand Canyon National Park can be obtained at or 1-928-638-7888.