If you’ve been holding off on taking your family to the Grand Canyon till your kids are old enough to truly appreciate the dramatic landscape, wait no longer. There’s a reason why five million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, and it’s not just the stunning vistas and viewpoints. The Grand Canyon’s many activities and adventures make it the perfect destination travelers of any age, including families – no matter how old your kids are.
What To Do With Your Kids at the Grand Canyon
We’ve rounded up some of the best family-friendly activities to be found at the Grand Canyon. Take a look:
Take a Ride on the Grand Canyon Railway
Complete with singing cowboys and an old-fashioned theatrical train heist, the Grand Canyon Railway truly brings the Old West to life.
Image Source: Robert1979
The train departs from Williams, AZ, and takes just over two hours to reach the Grand Canyon. Be sure to keep your eye out for wildlife like elk, mountain lions, and bald eagles as you wind your way through the Southwest.
Become a Junior Ranger
Your kids can be an official Grand Canyon ambassador! Children ages 4-14 can earn their Junior Ranger Badge by completing the Ranger Badge booklet, available for free at visitor centers throughout the park. Simply complete a list of activities as you explore the Grand Canyon National Park, including things like taking a mule ride into the Canyon, or participating in a demonstration with a park ranger.
Learn more about the Junior Ranger program.
If your time at the Grand Canyon is limited, pick up the Rangers Activity and Sticker Book at the El Tovar, Bright Angel, and Arizona Room restaurants, or at the Hermit’s Rest and Desert View Watchtowers.
Fly High Above the Grand Canyon
Helicopter and airplane tours are perfect for families, especially if your Grand Canyon adventure begins in Las Vegas. Instead of spending hours in a car or bus, treat your family to a flight over the Southwest. You can even fly down to the Canyon floor and enjoy a leisurely, relaxing ride down the Colorado River. And there’s no minimum age for helicopter tours, which makes them ideal for families with children of any age.
Take a look at our helicopter tours.
Experience the Grand Canyon in IMAX
Take a trip to nearby Tusayan and check out the longest running IMAX film of all time. Soar over the rim and down into the rapids of the Colorado River as you fully immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon, thanks to the theater’s six-storey screen and 12,000 watts of digital sound.
The film plays every hour on the half hour at the National Geographic Visitor Center in Tusayan, AZ.
Take A (Sky)Walk on the Wild Side
If your Grand Canyon adventure begins in Las Vegas, consider visiting the West Rim. The West Rim region is closer to Vegas than the popular South Rim, and it’s home to one of most exhilarating Grand Canyon experiences you can have – the Skywalk.
Image Source: Werner Keulen
Get your heart pumping as you take a stroll on this glass cantilever bridge. Extending 70 feet from the edge of the Canyon with views 4,000 feet straight down to the Canyon floor, the Skywalk is not for the faint of heart – but it’s a great adventure for kids!
Learn more about visiting the Grand Canyon West region.
8 Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon with your Kids
Whether you inevitably forget something important at home or find yourself unprepared for an unexpected bout of exhaustion-induced tears in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, practice makes perfect when you travel with kids.
But when you visit a new location, especially one as extreme as the Grand Canyon, practice can only take you so far. Preparation is key when it comes to visiting the Grand Canyon. Here are 8 tips to help you get ready for your family’s Grand Canyon adventure:
1. Stay safe!
The South Rim is the most developed region of the Grand Canyon, but it can still be dangerous for young children. Heat exhaustion and falling into the Canyon are common, even for adults, so keep your eyes on your kids at all times and be sure not to let them wander.
2. Bring a re-usable water bottle for each member of your family.
No plastic water bottles are permitted within the National Park areas, but there are water refill stations located throughout the Park. And with summertime high temperatures averaging above 70 degrees, you’ll be grateful each member of your family has their own bottle.
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park
3. Use the bathroom whenever you can.
Not every viewpoint has a bathroom. Avoid untimely potty breaks by using one every chance you get.
4. Bring a baby carrier.
Baby carriers are especially useful if you have young children or toddlers. Not only will you be able to relax and enjoy the scenery knowing that your kids are safe at all times, but you won’t have to worry about traversing the sometimes rough terrain with a stroller.
5. Consider staying overnight.
If you’ve opted to drive yourself to the Grand Canyon rather than taking a tour, consider extending your visit and staying overnight at one of the many hotels located at the Canyon and in the surrounding area. But be forewarned – Grand Canyon accommodation books up quickly. You may have to book your stay at least a year in advance. If you have limited time and can’t stay overnight, consider visiting the West Rim. Check out our West Rim tours.
Image Source: Daniel Mayer
6. Bring lots of activities with you.
You may have to wait to see ranger demonstrations and other attractions, so bring toys and activities for your kids to keep them busy. A bored kid is a cranky kid – something every travelling parent wants to avoid.
7. Consider renting a bike.
If you have older kids, renting a bike can help you experience more viewpoints in less time. The minimum age for bicycle rentals is 8.
8. If you want to hike with your kids, try the Rim Trail.
The Rim Trail starts at Mather Point beside the Visitor Center. The Trail is mostly paved, and doesn’t descend into the Canyon. You’ll see a ton of great viewpoints along the Rim, but remember that the trail is not entirely fenced, so make sure you watch your kids so they don’t wander off.
Image Source: Herman Luyken
Grand Family Adventures
Family vacations are never without their share of bumps and complications, but a little planning and preparation can help ensure that your Grand Canyon adventure runs smoothly from start to finish. The Grand Canyon offers many memorable activities, viewpoints, and adventures for families of all ages, so whether you choose to take a tour or drive yourself, you’re sure to have a great time at one of the grandest places in the country.