Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park
Fly in/out: Phoenix Sky International Airport
Ball Park Price: $900/person not including airfare for four travelers.
Best Season: April through November, although South Rim open all year.
Recommended ages: 6 and up
Time: Mountain Standard Time
DAY ONE: Fly into Phoenix Sky International Airport. Pick up rental car. Take beautiful four hour drive to Grand Canyon with stops in Flagstaff and Sedona. Take a quick stop at Wupatki National Monument. Check in at El Tovar Hotel.
DAY TWO: Take shuttle from hotel to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, check out the kid ranger program and proceed to Mather Point, Mohave Point and Desert View Watchtower for a beautiful day hiking in the Canyon.
DAY THREE: Get up early and take the all-day Canyon River Adventure
DAY FOUR: Start early and take a grand helicopter tour with Papillon tours. In the afternoon, hike Bright Angel Trail.
DAY FIVE: Drive back to Phoenix and return home.
If you have more time
If you’re a family that loves trains, take the Grand Canyon Railway that leaves Williams, Arizona and takes you on a 3 hour train ride to the South Rim. Different packages are available.
- This trip was a geological, historical and an adventurous wonder for the kids in just 5 packed days.
- For a real splurge, we took a helicopter tour to create a memory of a lifetime.
- Hiking in the Grand Canyon was exhilarating and exhausting. The distance from the South Rim to the canyon floor is a vertical mile. We checked in with the visitor center for best hikes based on age and endurance level of our children.
- We enjoyed our one-day rafting adventure which was very relaxing and informative learning about the history of the canyon by the guide. We also got to see some petroglyphs up close.
- Our kids enjoyed climbing to the top of the Desert View Watchtower for the great 360 views.
- We really enjoyed watching a sunrise come up over the canyon. We had perfect lighting one morning.
- We really loved our time hiking the beautiful trails in the Grand Canyon.
- Views were breathtaking on the 60 minute helicopter tour.
Places to stay
- El Tovar Hotel-We liked the El Tovar Hotel which was a modest and comfortable lodge-like feel perfectly situated in the South Rim.
- If we had a do-over, we would try to stay at the Bright Angel Lodge Room #6152. We had hotel envy with the breathtaking views from this Lodge.
- For the more adventurous family, Phantom Ranch (at the bottom of the Canyon). Cabins at Phantom Ranch are included with the overnight mule trips. Reservations must be made well in advance!
Although some dining options are cafeteria style, the sit-down canyon restaurants require reservations. It’s best to book dinner reservations while booking hotel reservations. A variety of menu options and kid friendly options are provided in the lodges.
- The park is located about a four hour drive north of Phoenix and about a 90 minute drive from Flagstaff to the South Rim. We chose to fly into Phoenix for better airline ticket prices.
- The south rim is the only part of park offering shuttle buses to differing viewing areas.
- Keep in mind that temperature increases as you descend and hiking back up takes longer than going down. Temperature extremes are common daily so keep layers with you. Also, keep water supplies and sunscreen lotion with you at all times.
- Dinner reservations should be made at the same time as the hotel accommodations.
- For our more rigorous hiking trips, we loved Yaktrax.
- You may be get lucky like we did and find a Grand Canyon lodge with just six months in advance planning. Wider choices if you try to plan 12 months out.
- If you have a rental car, consider stocking up on small snacks, water bottles and other essentials during high season at the Park as cafeteria lines can get long.