Rent a car and drive yourself...really an easy drive and much quicker than the train, which is more of a tourist/entertainment event than it is transportation. $25 per carload to see the GCNP. Strongly recommend spending a night in one of the lodges inside the GCNP for the best visit. Seeing the sunset, night sky and sunrise over the canyon is incredible. April will be lovely!
Agree that getting off the train and renting a car would make for a nice break, not to mention more freedom and flexibility for you to enjoy the canyon as you see fit. You would have to get off the train at Flagstaff as there are no rental car agencies in Williams. It would then be about a 90 minute drive from FLG.
Now, you're from New Zealand, which means you drive on the left side of the road, correct? If so, and you're really uncomfortable at the prospect of driving on the right, several tours companies do offer South Rim Day Tours. One in particular, Grand Canyon Old West Jeep Tours, offers a fairly comprehensive package out of both Williams and Flagstaff. It includes a 30-minute helicopter flight, the IMAX movie, plus you get out to see the Desert View/East Rim Drive in addition to the Grand Canyon Village Historic District (in other words, all the good places, all the fun stuff [you can drop the heli flight off the list if you want]). Here's a video that describes the tour ->: http://youtu.be/0V0Z7Ds28Jg Their office is located just down the street from the train depot in Flagstaff, ditto for Williams.
Other Flagstaff area tour operators are Angel's Gate Tours and American Dream Tours just to name a few.
Advice to rent a car is good except that you would arrive by Amtrak at Flagstaff at 9:51 PM, and there will be no rental car agencies open at that time. You would need to book a hotel and stay overnight and pick up a car the next morning.
An alternative for transportation from Williams to GCNP is Arizona Shuttle. Amtrak arrival in Williams Junction is at 10:33 PM which would also necessitate staying in Williams overnight. The shuttle will leave Williams at 8:30 AM from the old railroad depot in downtown by the GCRR hotel (the current Amtrak station is outside the town; the railroad depot in town is used by GCRR), which would be a good place to stay as the shuttle from the Amtrak station goes there. It would also be possible to catch the shuttle at 8:00 AM in Flagstaff after an overnight stay in Flagstaff.
Once at the canyon you can use the free park shuttles to get around the park, with the exception of the east rim drive which would require a tour which can be arranged by the park lodges.Edited: 23 November 2011, 10:27
I have a friend who arrived in Flag on the train. He had prebooked a car and advised the agency of his late arrival. They waited for him.
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