It can be perplexing to plan a family trip to the Grand Canyon, to decide among the wide range of activities in the park–from riding mules down into the Phantom Ranch in the bottom of the canyon to hiking or taking a ranger-led interpretive tour. But you can decide as a family what activities to participate in.
A Grand Canyon trip can be filled with family activities.
Step 1Set your dates for your trip. Families with younger kids may have to coordinate only mom and dad’s schedule. But families with teens or tweens may have to work around sporting events or summer camps. Have everyone mark on a calendar which dates work best. The dates that overlap will be your best bet for your trip.
Step 2Go to the South Rim, North Rim or a location outside of the Grand Canyon National Park such as the Sky Bridge or the Havasu Falls. The best bet for families with young children is the South Rim, where there are more family-friendly activities. Families with older teens may enjoy visiting the Havasu Native American Reservation or the North Rim.
Step 3Set a budget for your trip. The budget will determine which activities you can participate in, as well as how you get to the Grand Canyon, where you stay and where you eat. You should set aside a certain amount in your budget to pay for park passes, travel, food and lodging. If you are hiking into the canyon and plan to stay below the rim overnight, you will need to pay for a backcountry pass for each family member hiking into the canyon. Mule riders will have to pay for backcountry passes as well as a fee for the mule ride.
Step 4Figure out how you will get to the Grand Canyon. The two closet airports are the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. Both are more than 230 miles away, so you will also have to either rent a car, take an Amtrak train or rent a shuttle to drive the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon.
Step 5Book your lodgings. The Grand Canyon has a campground, RV hookups and six lodges above the rim of the canyon. A seventh lodge, Phantom Ranch, is located at the base of the canyon. There is a single lodge and campground on the North Rim, and the village at Havasu has a campground and a hotel. Lodgings for the park may be booked by calling the Grand Canyon lodges at 303-297-2757 or by going online to Grandcanyonlodges.com. Reservations for the campground at the Havasu Reservation may be made by calling 928-448-2121. Rooms in the lodge at the Havasu Reservation may be booked by calling 928-448-2111. For lodging outside the park, you can contact
the Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau at grandcanyonchamber.com or call 888-472-2696.
Step 6Look on the Grand Canyon National Park Web site to determine which activities are available during your trip. From October through May, the lodge on the North Rim closes for the winter. The National Park also schedules guided interpretive tours through most of the year. The website also gives instructions on how to make reservations for the park lodges, campground and park-sponsored activities such as mule rides. You can also consult visitor’s guidebooks that have been put out by companies such as AAA or Fodor’s.
Step 7Book your airfare and car rentals in advance to save money. During the high tourist season, these rates can go up considerably. Booking early not only saves you a spot but also may save you money. When renting a car, you must specify that you want a mid-sized or larger car. This type of car will be roomy enough for your family to travel together.