7 must-do activities when visiting Grand Canyon National Park with children.
Grand Canyon National Park is a must-visit for those who love nature, whether you’re an adult or a kid. It’s more than a mile deep, 277 miles long, and bigger than Rhode Island. With its breathtaking views, Colorado River activities, and hiking trails, visitors of all ages can find something to enjoy.
However, if you plan to bring children along, it’s essential to consider the weather and plan accordingly. By doing so, you can avoid potential problems such as difficult hikes, fully booked accommodations, and the need to take a break from walking.
Would the Grand Canyon National Park be suitable for children?
The enjoyment of your family’s visit to Grand Canyon National Park depends on how well you plan and prepare ahead of time. Bringing necessary items such as strollers, water, snacks, and sun protection is highly recommended.
These items will come in handy when dealing with unexpected situations like extreme weather or rough terrain. It is also essential to pack a hiking backpack for your child if you plan on exploring trails outside the South Rim Trail.
The South Rim is the most kid-friendly area with numerous restroom facilities, lookout points, and the Grand Canyon Village with its souvenir shops and exhibits. The North Rim is often closed during the winter months, making the South Rim a better option for a family adventure.
Embark on family-friendly trails for a hiking adventure.
While the Nankoweap and North Kaibab Trails are challenging and not suitable for inexperienced hikers, there are numerous kid-friendly trails to explore within Grand Canyon National Park.
The South Rim Trail, which spans 13 miles and can be accessed from various parking lots, is paved and offers breathtaking views of the canyon. For those who need a break, a complimentary shuttle stops along the trail every 15-30 minutes.
Another popular option is the Bright Angel Trail, which starts at the heart of Grand Canyon Village. To avoid large crowds and allow the kids more space to move around, it’s recommended to arrive by 8:30am.
Prepare a picnic and take a leisurely walk towards Shoshone Point.
If you prefer a peaceful walk away from the crowds, Shoshone Point offers a lovely view of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This family-friendly adventure is conveniently located about 10 minutes southeast of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
The trailhead, which has ample parking, leads to a mile-long flat and dirt-packed hike to the point. At the end, there are amenities such as picnic tables, fire pits, grills, and restrooms, but be sure to bring your own water as there are no fountains available on the trail.
Join your junior ranger for an exciting journey.
The junior-ranger program is available at most national parks, including the Grand Canyon. Its purpose is to educate children about the park’s history and natural features through ranger-led discussions, which can be attended by the whole family. At Kolb Studio, Yavapai Geology Museum or the Grand Canyon Visitors Center, visitors can pick up a booklet and receive a unique badge upon completion of the program.
Apart from the junior-ranger program, visitors can also participate in the ranger’s-choice program, which covers various topics such as local wildlife and California condors. Accompanied by an adult, children are welcome to join in on the 30-minute indoor/outdoor tour that departs from the South Rim Visitor Center.
Go for a bike rental and take a ride across the South Rim.
At times, you may wish to switch things up and pause from strolling. Bright Angel Bicycles offers a fantastic alternative with bicycle rentals available for the entire family, comprising children’s bikes, trailers, and tag-along attachments.
The store is located discreetly near the highly-visited Mather Point viewpoint, and from there, you can venture to the South Rim’s west where you’ll find bike routes and paved roads. The store also provides supervised bicycle tours, which follow routes spanning 5.5 miles to Hermit Road and 7 miles to Yaki Point.
Ride a kayak or pontoon boat leisurely down the Colorado River.
The canyon area provides a range of water activities, from thrilling white-water adventures to peaceful rafting journeys
Wilderness River Adventures offers a discounted half-day rafting trip for families with children under 15 who want to experience the stunning curves of Horseshoe Bend. In the vicinity, Antelope Canyon Boat Tours provides rental services for kayaks and pontoon boats, as well as boat tours.
Enjoy an exciting day at the Yavapai Geology Museum.
When admiring the stunning sights of Grand Canyon National Park, children are bound to ask the ultimate question: what caused all of this? Fortunately, the Yavapai Geology Museum offers a comprehensive response beyond what’s available at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The museum boasts various displays, such as three-dimensional models, revolving photo exhibits, and a topographical map of the canyon.
Moreover, the museum offers a picturesque viewpoint of the canyon, making it the ideal location for taking selfies.
Board a train that will take you to the Canyon.
Half the enjoyment of visiting Grand Canyon National Park is the journey there. Train enthusiasts can take the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona on a 65-mile excursion through majestic hardwood trees to the South Rim.
The classic train cars frequently feature live Western-themed performers, enhancing the experience. Departing Williams at 9:30am daily, the train returns from the canyon at 2:30pm. It is important to verify the schedule, especially during November and December when it can vary.
What are the best accommodation options for families with children?
Do you prefer a campground or a lodge for your stay in or around Grand Canyon National Park? There are a variety of options available, including Mather Campground which offers 330 shaded campsites surrounded by Ponderosa trees and Desert View Campground which is a more secluded choice with nearly 50 campsites located near the east entrance of the park. Both campgrounds have restroom facilities and can be booked up to six months in advance, so act fast!
If you prefer a more traditional lodging experience, Yavapai Lodge and Maswik Lodge offer simple yet comfortable rooms, with the latter also featuring a pizza pub for satisfying snack cravings. However, El Tovar is widely considered the premier option for lodging in the area. Its elegant dining room is adorned with artwork inspired by local indigenous communities, and the restaurant offers a kids’ menu and half-order options for smaller appetites.