One of the most popular National Park destinations for families at all times of the year is Grand Canyon National Park. With brilliant colors and spectacular vistas, you should put it on your bucket list for this year if you haven't already. Here are ten of our favorite family things to do and places to go in Grand Canyon National Park. You and your loved ones are sure to have a fantastic experience.
10 things for families to do in Grand Canyon National Park
1. Travel back on the Trail of Time
The Grand Canyon is millions of years old and is one of the most marveled and wondrous destinations in our country. A walk along the Trail of Time will give your family a better understanding of its geological history, while taking in quite the view. Make sure to stop at the viewing tubes along the one hour walk and stop in the Yavapai Geology Museum. The beginning of the trail is located at the Verkamps Visitors Center in Grand Canyon Village which is accessible by shuttle bus or car.
2. Ride along the Colorado River
There are so many rafting and hiking tours offered at the Grand Canyon, however, many of them take several days and go through rough terrain. Grand Canyon Discovery offers a half-day float down the Colorado River without the rapids or long days. Starting at the visitor’s center of Grand Canyon Discovery at 130 6th Ave. in Page, Arizona, this rafting trip stops by petroglyphs and Horseshoe Bend. Buses are offered for pick up and drop off from the Grand Canyon and ages four and up are welcome. Adult tickets are $92 a person and children four to eleven years old are $82.
3. Help your kids become Junior Rangers
What better way to learn about and see the Grand Canyon than becoming a Junior Ranger? Children four and up can receive their official Grand Canyon Junior Ranger badge when they complete requirements listed in the activity book and take a pledge in front of a park ranger. Activities vary based on whether you’re exploring the South Rim, North Rim or Phantom Ranch. The South Rim activity book can be picked up at the Grand Canyon Visitors Center at S. Entrance Road, Grand Canyon Village and includes ranger-led activities and writing exercises fun for the whole family!
4. Hop on Board the Polar Express
You may not think of the North Pole when you go on a trip to Arizona, however, the Grand Canyon has its very own. Just an hour south of the national park in Williams, Arizona, this magical train ride comes with a visit with Santa and his reindeer. The train runs from November to early January and ticket costs start at $35 for adults and $25 for children. Tickets can be picked up at the Williams Train Depot at 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.
5. Marvel at the stars
The dark skies of the Grand Canyon are perfect for observing the stars and planets up above. Every summer the park hosts a star party with telescopes and free astronomy programs. The 2017-star party will take place nightly from June 17 to June 24 on both the South and North Rims. The South Rim star party starts at 8 p.m. by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and is a free event.
6. Take a hike on Bright Angel Trail
Hiking down the Grand Canyon is a goal many have, however, some don’t realize how rigorous it can be to get back up. Bright Angel Trail is 9.5 miles down and one of the most popular hikes in the park. This trail is perfect for families with older children looking to explore the canyon further. The trailhead is located in the park’s South Rim near Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon Village. Don’t forget to bring water and sunscreen!
7. Bike the rim
Rent a bicycle at the Bright Angel Bicycle Rentals and take a scenic ride along the rim of the Grand Canyon. The paved Greenway section of the trail between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the South Kaibab Trailhead is five miles one way. Bicycles for older children and Burley trailers for small children are also available. After your ride grab an ice cream cone at Bright Angel Cafe and enjoy the view! Bright Angel Bicycle and Café is located at 10 S. Entrance Road, Grand Canyon Village.
8. Go on a mule ride and stay the night in the Canyon
Did you know you could explore the Grand Canyon while riding a mule? The South and North Rims both offer mule rides for ages nine and up. The five-and-a-half-hour tour descends down Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim and has beautiful views of the Canyon. There are also overnight tours available to stay at cabins on the bottom and enjoy dinner at the unique Phantom Ranch Dining Room. This experience can be costly at around $961 for two and should be booked several months in advance.
9. Visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk
The skywalk is a glass walkway hovering above the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This overlook helps visitors understand the magnitude and depth of the Grand Canyon without having to take an expensive helicopter ride. Tour packages are available from the Hualapai Tribe to tour the area and visit the skywalk starting at $45 per person. Many take shuttles into the reservation to avoid driving on dirt roads starting at $15 a person and picking up at 16011 Pierce Ferry Road, Dolan Springs, Arizona.
10. Enjoy the view atop a watchtower
Desert View at the South Rim is a beautiful spot to stop and watch the sunset. Its unique watchtower overlooks 70 feet over the Grand Canyon and has a rooftop observation deck. Desert View also has a popular restaurant and gift shop great for families. The watchtower and trading post is located at W. Highway 64, Grand Canyon National Park.
This article was written by Taylor Bishop.