Grand Canyon's South Rim - canyon country blitz
Some links may be affiliate links.
The final destination
We made it. The Grand Canyon. Our final stop concluding our canyon country blitz through six national parks in Utah and Arizona. You can read about our visits to five Utah national parks here: Arches & Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion.
We quickly set up camp and dashed over to Mather Point in Grand Canyon Village just in time to spy the magnificent sunset over the Grand Canyon. Surveying the canyon at sunset reminded us we have one talented Maker. Mather Point is a fantastic viewpoint, even if it does get a bit crowded. Plan to arrive early, especially with little ones, so you can catch a front row view. We oohed and ahhhed, snapped photos, and made sure our kids didn't dance too close to the edge.
Tips for the South Rim
The next day, we took the Hermit Road Shuttle Bus Route (red route). Traveling west from Grand Canyon Village towards Hermits Rest, the shuttle stops at nine points of interest. The shuttle is well worth it, especially if hiking isn't a particularly great option. Our littlest guy was still struggling with an ear infection, so the shuttle was just our speed. You can hop off each stop, look around, and either easily hike the rim to the next point of interest, or hop back on the shuttle towards the next stop. It's a great loop with great options. Click below to learn more...
Grab a park map at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, chat with a ranger about the Junior Ranger Program and ask any questions you might have. Check out driving tours and hiking options for exploring and Grand Canyon's South Rim. Consider these points of interest for you and your family, keeping everyone's physical stamina and interests in mind.
- Yaki Point
- Grandview Point
- Hopi Point
- Tusayan Ruin and Museum
- Desert View and Watchtower
- Yavapai Point
- Eat dinner (make reservations here) at the El Tovar Hotel
- Hike the easy Rim Trail anywhere between Pipe Creek Vista and Hermits Rest (Carry a lot of water while hiking as there is nowhere to fill up between Grand Canyon Village and Hermits Rest!)
- Hike the moderate Bright Angel Trail
- Hike the difficult South Kaibob Trail
- Or better yet, take a mule ride down into the canyon
Learn more about these and other ways to explore the park by picking up a copy of The Fodor's Complete Guide to National Parks of the West. This favored guide highlights family-friendly activities and ranks hikes from easy to difficult. The book also contains more dining and lodging suggestions (we camped at Mather Campground - see below). You can buy your national park pass ahead of time here.
Before you head out on your family adventure, remember to pack large water bottles or Camelback back packs, sunglasses, hats, sunscreen/lip screen, rain jacket, sweatshirt, bandana, salty trail snacks, maps/guides, and sturdy tennis shoes/hiking shoes. Read about our 7 must-haves for camping here, and how to teach your kids to pack here.
Sometimes less really is more. We tent camped (and cooked outdoors!) just 2 nights in Mather Campground inside Grand Canyon Village. Toilets located near campsites, but ride a bike or hop in the car for a short drive to visit the coin-operated showers and laundry facilities if need be. Great campground. Nice shade and lots of space for the kids to run out their ya-yas. Bonus: you can make reservations ahead of time, unlike some other national park campgrounds! If camping isn't your gig, go here for other lodging options inside the park.
Honestly, we loved hanging around Mather campground. Especially in hammocks. After 3 weeks of traveling, we craved down time.
Grand Canyon was the last of six parks on our canyon country blitz and our kids were pretty canyoned out. Like I said, our youngest had been battling an ongoing ear infection for pretty much 3 weeks— just when we thought he had it beat, it resurfaced. Let's just say we met a lot of nice doctors in the southwest. So by the time we drove from Zion to Grand Canyon’s South Rim, we were tuckered out and thrilled to chill a good chunk of each day.
Havasupai Waterfalls in the Grand Canyon is at the top of our must-see list. Our family is aiming to hike the 10 miles down (and back up!) with another family of six over our spring break in 2018. Since rooms book quickly, I already have it in my calendar to call Havasupai Lodge on June 1, 2017, the earliest date to reserve rooms for two nights in March 2018. Planning ahead is a must.
Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Slot Canyon Tour in Page, Arizona look amazing. This adventure is also on our bucket list. Learn more here...
What part of the Grand Canyon have you visited or which rim have you toured? I would love to know what you recommend for families there, so let's hear it!