A Family Affair: Vacationing in Grand Canyon National Park

Family-Friendly Activities at the Grand Canyon
By Teresa Bitler
  |  Gorp.com
Moon over the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Moon over the Grand Canyon, Arizona (Robert Glusic/PhotoDisc)

Hiking trails at the Grand Canyon are either easy or difficult—there isn’t a moderate option. At the South Rim, the mostly paved Rim Trail skirts along the canyon’s edge and is a good choice for families with small children. The wide, well-maintained Bright Angel Trail descends into the canyon. Many visitors hike this trail a short distance and turn around long before reaching the bottom. The North Rim provides similar experiences.

If you plan to hike, make sure you know what you’re getting into. The journey to the bottom can take up to six hours, and for much of it, you will be exposed to the sun and elements. Temperatures can be 20 degrees higher on the canyon floor than on the rim. Because of the strenuous nature of the activity, the park service discourages you from attempting to hike down and out on the same day.

You can bring your own bicycle and ride it along the paved roads and Greenway Trail, or rent one from Bright Angel Bicycle Rentals at the South Rim’s Canyon Visitor Information Plaza.

Mule rides along the rim and into the canyon require reservations and almost always have a waiting list, so the lesson here is to book early. Reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance through Xanterra for trips departing from the South Rim and through Canyon Trail Rides for those departing from the North Rim.

From half-day, smooth-water experiences to 18-day excursions, you’ll see the canyon in a whole new way on a Colorado raft trip. Most outings launch from Lees Ferry and take a minimum of seven days to reach Diamond Creek, although half-trip options are available if you disembark at Phantom Ranch and hike out. To learn more about rafting options, visit the National Park Service’s website.

Published: 16 Jul 2012 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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