Things To Do In Grand Canyon National Park With Kids

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Activities For Kids

When searching for activities on a Grand Canyon kids vacation, you’ll find everything from mule rides and hiking to train rides and river rafting to keep your child thoroughly entertained.

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  • Hiking the Rim Trail is easy going for the whole family
  • The seventy-foot-high Desert View Watchtower gives incredible views
  • Kids love an exciting mule trip around the Grand Canyon
  • Visit the 12th-century Tusayan Ruin and Museum
  • Your child will love to earn a Junior Ranger Badge

What can I do at the Grand Canyon with my kids?

Taking in the wonders of the Grand Canyon is awesome for adults, but particularly spectacular for kids. The sights, attractions, wildlife, colors and shapes create a lifelong impression on any young ones.

Besides just marveling at the views, there are numerous activities for families with children.

Get The Kids Outdoors

Hiking
Short trails are great when bringing kids to the Grand Canyon. Pick ones that are one mile long or less for the younger children.

South Rim Trials:

  • Rim Trail: Taking the Rim Trail from the Village on the South Rim is easy walking with wonderful views of the inner canyon. Take advantage of the self-guiding trail pamphlets along the path. You can end off your hike whenever you want by taking a shuttle bus back to your origination point.
  • Bright Angel Trail: Just west of the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim, you’ll find the Bright Angel Trail where you can take the kids on a hike of the perfect length, just for them. There is some shade and water available seasonally.
  • South Kaibab Trail: Another trail, which is a good one to use for a short day hike, is the South Kaibab Trail, south of Yaki Point. This may be better for older children if going far, as there is no water and little shade as you go the longer distances.

North Rim Trails:

  • Bright Angel Point: You can choose the Bright Angel Point Trail (only a half a mile long round trip), the Transept Trail (a bit longer at three miles) or the Bridle Trail (2.4 miles round trip).
  • Cape Royal Trail: Also on the North Rim is the Cape Royal Trail. It’s a very easy walk of .6 miles, with incredible views of the Canyon and Colorado River.
  • Cliff Springs Trail: Hiking the one-mile-round-trip Cliff Springs Trail takes about an hour, and it wanders into a forested ravine. For those with older children and who want to really get out there for some serious hiking, the Widforss Trail provides a 10-mile adventure.
  • Coconino Overlook: Although hiking the entire North Kaibab Trail is for experienced hikers only, it’s perfect for a short hike to Coconino Overlook. You will watch the kids oh and ah over the sights as they look below the rim.
  • Roosevelt Point & Point Imperial: You have two other easy trails to choose from on the North Rim - the Roosevelt Point Trail (0.2 miles in length round trip) and the Point Imperial Trail (a four-mile hike). The Roosevelt goes through some woodland and offers incredible views, with benches where you can relax and take in the sights.

Visit the Desert View Watchtower
This seventy-foot-high replica of an Indian tower of antiquity gives everyone an amazing view of not only the Grand Canyon, but also the Painted Desert and the San Francisco Peaks in the south. Check out the inner walls for some Hopi artist murals.

Family Mule Trips
Taking a mule excursion is a favorite among the kids. Mule trips are offered on both the South and North Rims of Grand Canyon National Park. You can take South Rim mule trips all year round, but they must be booked 13 months in advance. North Rim mule trips are available from mid-May to mid-October.

River Rafting
If your child is 8 years old or older, you can take a half-day or all-day river rafting adventure within the canyon. The concessionaires offer both white water trips and smooth water trips.

Scenic Driving Trips
Grand Canyon kids activities should always include some scenic driving. They can look from the window of the car and view the spectacular sights throughout the park, with stops at special overlooks.

  • Point Imperial: The highest point on the rim is Point Imperial, where you can see Mount Hayden and get a marvelous view of the eastern part of Grand Canyon. You start on the 11-mile drive to the Point at Grand Canyon Lodge.
  • Hermit Road: Taking the Hermit Road takes you on a 16-mile round trip route past Hopi Viewpoint as well as something you won’t want your kids to miss – the Abyss. This wall plunges down 3,000 feet and you can see the Colorado River at the bottom.
  • Desert View Drive: Desert View Drive is a popular route, and takes you by many spots of interest. You can stop at the Desert View Watchtower, stop for a picnic at any of the four picnic areas or visit the Tusayan Ruin and Museum.

Visit the Village
Grand Canyon Village is one place everyone can take a break, grab some food, and browse interesting shops. You can tour the many buildings designed by the architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.

Grand Canyon Railway
Besides visiting Hopi House (built in 1905), it is almost mandatory to hop aboard the Grand Canyon Railway for a ride to remember. This steam engine puffs its way along the South Rim with a glass-roofed dome car, a restored Pullman and a lovely parlor car.

Ranger-Led Programs
Of course, Grand Canyon National Park has a number of ranger-led programs that are all free of charge. An adult must accompany the kids, but any adult will enjoy the programs offered just as much as the child.

Let Your Child Become a Junior Ranger
Any child between 4 and 14 can earn a special Junior Ranger badge. Simply pick up a Ranger Activity Booklet from any of the visitor centers and follow the directions. 

Rainy Day Activities

See the Tusayan Ruin and Museum
This is a glimpse into the past of a 12th-century Indian pueblo. If the rain lets up, you can hike the short trail around the village and get an idea of what life was like here 800 years ago.

Learn About the Geology of the Park
At the Yavapai Observation Station you can discover Grand Canyon geology firsthand. Besides providing great views of Grand Canyon, displays show three-dimensional models, enlightening photos and interpretive panels.

Activity Books
At the area restaurants, parents will find children's activity books that are educational and entertaining. Your child can collect stickers that are handed out at various gift shops and win a prize for collecting the full set of four.

Winter Vacations

The South Rim is open all year and there are many things you can do when visiting Grand Canyon in the winter.

Train Rides
As described above, train rides are a thrill for any kid (no matter their age). In the winter in Grand Canyon National Park, the railway still operates, but runs diesel trains instead of steam-powered.

The Grand Canyon Visitor Center
This visitor center is open all year. You can bring the kids inside and watch a wondrous 20-minute film entitled “Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder,” in the theater.

Stop by Verkamp’s Visitor Center
Just east of the Hopi House, you can stop at the Verkamp’s Visitor Center to browse the Grand Canyon souvenirs. This is one of the oldest buildings in the park, too, and there is an information desk where any questions you may have about Grand Canyon will be answered.

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