A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.
Seriously - what can I possibly say that hasn't been said? This is definitely something that everyone needs to see at least once. The scenery will not only take your breath away, but will say with you forever. Since this is a heavily reviewed destination, I will limit my review to family tips that we found helpful.
1. Your first stop should be the South Rim Visitor's Center - hands down. This is your mecca of information. You will find shuttle maps, area information, tour schedules, Junior Ranger programs & more here. Get in line & talk to a Ranger - that's what they're there for. Ask a lot of questions. Make a game plan for the time you have in the canyon.
1. Do the FREE Junior Ranger programs! Nothing keeps kids interested more than giving them something to do that ends in a reward (patch & badge). There are a couple of Junior Ranger programs that you can do. The first one is age-specific (Raven, Coyote or Scorpion). The second one is "secret" and you have to ask for it specifically. It deals with rocks, minerals & geologic formation in the canyon. The best thing ever is that they let you check out a backpack for 24 hours that contains a field journal, binoculars, compass, plant & bird viewing guide, colored pencils & more! The kids will go nuts for it. All of these things will help them complete the activities required to earn their badge.
3. Take advantage of the free Ranger-led programs. We did a fossil walk that left the Bright Angel Lodge & lasted about 90-minutes. We really learned a lot about the prehistoric history of the canyon. Depending on the season, there are several family-friendly Ranger tours that you can do. Let's be honest, as beautiful as the canyon is, you can only look at it so much. If you are spending a night or two inside the park, you'll want to learn something!
4. Set your alarm & watch the sunrise. It is truly awesome. My whole family awoke (without complaint) to see this magnificence. Ask the Rangers what time the sun rises so you can be prepared. BRING A FLASHLIGHT. It is absolutely pitch black in the entire village before sunrise. We walked to the overlook by the El Tovar Hotel & had a fabulous view. Bonus - the deer gather there to graze in the morning & give you something extra to see. Don't try to approach them but they will let you photograph them.
5. Be flexible. we had planned to hike the Bright Angel Trail, but when we arrived & saw how steep the trail was - added to the fact that there are no barriers between you & a mighty long fall - we decided against it. There is always a Plan B.
6. Learn & use the free shuttle system. Maps are at the Visitors Center & the shuttles are very easy to use. They can get crowded at peak hours but they offer a free & easy way to get around the village.
7. Visit the Grand Canyon Cemetery. The headstones are fascinating & offer a great glimpse into the history of the canyon's early & recent residents.
8. Bring water & layers. While it can be in the high 90's in the daytime, it can get very cold when the sun goes down. Bring backpacks with you EVERYWHERE with jackets, water & snacks. There are free water bottle refill stations scattered throughout the canyon.
9. Don't overestimate your hiking abilities. As a rule of thumb, it takes twice as long to hike up as id did down. So, if you hike down a trail for 30 minutes, plan on an hour or more to get back up!
10. Have lunch at the El Tovar. Ask for table by the window. We had on shorts & were fine. Dinner is another story, but lunch is more casual. You'll really enjoy the historic surroundings & beautiful view. Also, the lunches are good & not overly expensive.
We visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on our recent 5 week road trip. We came directly from the North Rim which was less crowded and more relaxed. The views on the South Rim are more majestic in my opinion. There is a park shuttle which can be used to get just about everywhere. I wouldn't recommend using it if you are disabled though as the shuttle drivers don't all know how to operate the lift and definately are annoyed by having to figure it out. If you have a state issued handicapped placard then you can stop at the closest visitor center to receive a special parking/driving pass that will allowe you access to shuttle only roads. This was very helpful for visiting the look outs.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon and went immediately to the Tusayan Museum and visitors center. We hiked to the top of the look out tower and the views were amazing. The tower was also very beautiful on the inside. There is a great book shop as well. We picked up Junior Ranger packets and asked for information about the park. I would recommend waiting until the main visitor center as they really weren't well informed here. Then we headed to the Mather Campground to set up camp. (I will write a separate review for them).
The next morning we headed to our first Ranger program which was a history walk through the cemetary and a short walk to the rim. Ranger Vaughn led this activity and he was amazing. He kept the kids attention, was very informative, had several activities and games planned, and even did an art project at the end. He notice all of the ranger badges that my kids had earned and told them about a few "secret" programs that they could do. If your kids are really into the Junior Ranger program and want to do other activities make sure to ask. They don't hand them out to everyone as the packets are expensive and they want to make sure they are completed. My kids were able to earn their Junior Ranger badges for the South Rim, a Conservation Corp badge, a paleontologist bage, and a discovery pack badge. It was a lot of work but they LOVE doing it so it was worth it for us. (my kids ages 4 to 11 participated in these.)
After the walk we were hit by a huge hail storm but when that cleared we walked along the rim trail in front of all the gift shops, went out to dinner, and enjoyed the sunset. The ice cream shop is crowded but the kids really enjoyed the cool treat.
The next day we visited the visitor center where there is a nice museum. We watched the movie and worked on Junior Ranger packets. My kids also checked out a discovery pack for each of them. It is a backpack filled with paper, pencils, magnifying glass, binoculars, activities, etc. It was really fun for the kids. We attended another Ranger program that was perfect for the younger ones. It was a story time about bats and even my 20 month old really enjoyed it. After story time we were lucky enough to see several California Condors both resting on the rocks and flying. What a beautiful thing to see.
We took Hermit road and viewed all of the look outs. It was a great way to get different views of the canyon. We watched the sunset at Hopi point and had a great view. It was very crowded though.
Make sure to wear a hat and sunscreen and bring a water bottle. There are fairly new water filling stations all over the park and the water tasted pretty good. No need to spend money on bottled water.
My children are pretty used to National Parks so fear of them wandering off the trail wasn't a concern of mine. I kept my 20 month strapped to me in my Ergo when we were near the rim. For the most part it was fairly relaxing and I didn't experience the same anxiety that some other posters have shared.
Definately a must visit place. I recommend staying at least 3 nights. We did and we still ran out of time. (we move slow though because we have 5 small children :))
We enjoyed visiting the Grand Canyon while staying in nearby Flagstaff. The drive through the park is beautiful with several spots to stop and take photos. Parking can be difficult, especially during the summer. There are several areas where we had to keep a very close watch on our children because we were so close to the edge. That always makes me just a bit nervous.
I always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and I was in awe of the view. However, as soon as the kids started sticking their head out the rails and trying to climb down the canyon I had the fear of god in me! My 4 year old is so brave and the drop did not phase her at all, so our bucket list experience quickly turned into a nightmare. I yelled the kids names at least a dozen times per minute! I had the kids in a stroller but they could not see anything and the stairs made it difficult to navigate so unfortunately we could only last 1 hour of exploring. I think we will go back when the kids hit double digits and can appreciate the history and earth science behind this marvel :)
Just returned home from a visit to the Grand Canyon with my 9 year old daughter. Her first words when she saw the Canyon - "Wow, the Grand Canyon rocks!". And it was an incredible sight - I don't think any of the photos that you ever see can prepare you for the breathtaking experience of seeing it for the first time.
We arrived in Tusayan late in the afternoon after driving from Las Vegas and after checking into our hotel headed to the park to spend an hour or so. We made it in time for sunset and it was absolutely stunning. We spent all of the next day hiking around the rim trails in the park. We had perfect weather and an incredible day - except for a little sunburn.
We took the shuttle to different areas of the park and then hiked between points. My daughter was able to keep up though she was exhausted by the end of the day. She's old enough that I didn't need to worry about her doing anything risky on the paths - I would definitely be a bit anxious with young kids. It had snowed the week prior to our visit and one of the paths that we walked turned muddy, then icy and slippery - she was scared for the few minutes that it took us to navigate that part of the trail but we made it ok.
We stopped for ice cream and to buy a baseball cap for sun protection in the Village. Lines for ice cream were very long but it was delicious - I imagine it's very busy in the summer months.
Our visit to the Grand Canyon was a trip of a lifetime!
What more can I say? It is breathtaking! On our family road trip out west this past summer, we camped two nights in the Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon. Being able to wake up and get on the Rim Shuttle early was fantastic! We did some short walks between stops on the Rim Trail, then used the shuttles for the rest of the time. The market in the village was extremely well-stocked but expensive.
Ok, yes, I am aware that there is very little I can say about the Grand Canyon that has not already been said a million times. Of course, it’s never been said by me, and this is, after all, the purpose of this site. The Grand Canyon is truly one of the wonders of our world. The sheer power of wind and water that formed that massive canyon baffles the mind and looking down into the abyss makes one’s imagination run back to the days when it was just a river with green banks just like any other. It’s crazy-making to try to fathom that kind of change actually taking place. But I digress. Now for the banalities: Parking is not readily available close to the lookouts, so be prepared to walk some distance. Trust me, it’s worth it. Be aware that you are in a dangerous place, and keep those kiddies close, because though there is a short wall keeping you from falling, it has gaps and no one is going to watch out for you and yours but you. The rangers do not keep good order, so many people sneak down onto the outcroppings and your little ones might want to follow. It is windy and colder than expected, at least in the early fall, so be prepared with jackets and water bottles because the water from the fountains has a distinctively unpleasant taste. A lot of people hear Grand Canyon and they have some jaded perspective that it’s something their parents found amazing, but nothing that great altogether. It’s more than that, and well worth stopping to have a look, even if you have to take a detour.
I know I'm supposed to love this majestic beautiful natural landmark but it was boring. I went as a kid and I was more taken in by the gift shops than the canyon itself. During that same trip, we went to Yellowstone and it had much more to offer. Maybe had we river rafter it would have been more fun but it would also been more dangerous for kids. The shop was my favorite part.
Pictures can not even begin to express to you the actual beauty of the Grand Canyon. It is the most beautiful place that I have ever been to, and probably anyone has ever been to. I also like knowing that when I go back, it will always look different. The kids weren't very excited about walking around all day, but once we got home, they told me how much they enjoyed it. They really liked the gift shops! (Always emptying my pockets!)
I am very paranoid about my kids running out there and falling off the giant drop off. There really isn’t the greatest protection of falling off the sides or kids just going. I haven’t taken my kids there yet and don’t plan to until they are in their teenage years. However if your kids are older or you’re not going with kids or not worried like I am then it is a total MUST SEE. You can see all the pictures you want but NOTHING can compare to being there in person and the awe and amazement of the breathtaking Grand Canyon. Very worth the drive!!!
We have visited the Grand Canyon 6X. The first time we went we decided that we had to come back again to hike the Canyon. We did it and we were hooked! It's an awsome experience. You do have to plan in adavance to make your reservations and prepare all your gear for back country camping, but it's worth it. Many people do it...all ages. the park service sends you a dvd with all the info to prepare for your hike. We loved it so much that it bacame a favorite family vacation. We did the hike from the south rim 4x and fronm the north rim 1x. The north rim is definitely harder, so I would recommend the south rim if it's your first time. Just go to the NPS website for all the info.
Our family visited both the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon last summer. The north rim is much less touristy and the views there were our favorite. At the south rim, we stayed just outside the park entrance and rode the free shuttle everywhere. Definitely the way to go. We spent two days riding around the park hopping on and off the shuttles. You can even walk some easy trails between shuttle stops to enjoy the views. The only negative part of our visit was the cost of food. Restaurant prices were high--fast food 30 percent more expensive. We did pack lunch in a cooler one day and park inside the park so we could return to our car when we wanted to have lunch.
I remember visiting the Grand Canyon as a kid and being blown away at the beauty and size of it. I was hoping my kids would feel the same but I may have taken them a few years too early, which is fine since it gives me an excuse to take another road trip. Seeing it with my beautiful girlfriend was amazing and romantic. Seeing it with our little ones was terror. They really enjoyed viewing the canyon and took a lot of pictures but the oldest was rowdy and trying to get closer and closer to the edge. It's a great experience for kids of any age but when they're under 6 it may be a bit more stressful. Especially when they've been in the car for a long part of the day.
The kids did enjoy seeing some wildlife on the way in as they got to see deer grazing on the side of the road. They also saw a chipmunk running around near the canyon's ledge so that was exciting. I'll definitely be taking them when they're a few years older.
Get to the park when it first opens because you won't have to deal with as many guests/tour busses. There is something nice about being one of the only families there in the early morning because it seems more personal. The tour guides (at least at the South Rim) were very friendly and loved educating the kids and the whole family.
If you plan on visiting any other National Parks during your vacation, your park pass will get you into any other National Parks for free I believe.
The Grand Canyon is a gorgeous landmark, and there are fun things to do any time of the day. If you're going in the summer, make sure to go early in the morning to avoid crowded parking and warm temperatures. Hiking is definitely a must, so plan in advance. There aren't a lot of interactive activities for children outside of the hiking scene, so keep that in mind when planning a day trip.
My family went to the GC when my brother and I were little kids and we had a blast. Now as an adult we just went last month and had a blast again! The only thing that scares me with kids and the GC is the huge amount of space where there are no rails. Keep an eye on those kids!
I grew up in Arizona so I have seen the Grand Canyon may times. My children, who now live in Washington have only seen pictures on the internet. Honestly the pictures do not do it justice. It just so happens on a trip to Arizona we decided to take a detour on what turned out to the be coldest day in decades. The wind was a blustery 20 miles an hour and just the day before it had snowed. The kids took it head on. Reguardless of the weather, the canyon was beautiful and the kids have memories of a life time. One thing I can say, is that next time we go back, it will be a little warmer and I might even take one of the scenic tour bus trips to get to some of the more remote areas. When the kids get a little older we plan to go to the bottom and check it out from the bottom up.
I LOVED this vacation to Arizona! This was one of the best vacations I have been on and the Grand Canyon was the highlight. The view is amazing! If you're bringing kids with you, you should pack some snacks for them (and yourself). All of the walking will get you hungry!
We loved our time here at the Grand Canyon. There are plenty of vistas with lots to see. I would definitely recommend taking older kids. In some areas, the bathrooms can be too far apart for a walk...we found out the hard way! My husband and I were able to take a helicopter ride alone...so amazing!
This is one of the most beautiful places. I would wait until my little one gets a little older. I took my 18 year old son, and it was perfect. We took many many pictures and drover around to a lot of the different stops to get different reviews. When we first arrived, we got to see a herd of moose. Everything is spectacular. We got to see some of the history too. I would suggest for younger kids to start the National Forest Passport and collect stamps from all of the parks.
Obviously this is one place everyone should visit in their lifetime. I just would have preferred to wait until my little kids were older. It was snowy and icy when we were there, which still made for a beautiful and grand view. However, when my kids "ran" towards the edge, I panicked. Despite the fencing, I was still near heart attack stage the entire time. So hold onto your kids tightly, and enjoy the view.
The best thing was hearing my oldest son say that it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen!