Car is packed? Check.
Kids are buckled in? Check.
After weeks of planning and the inevitable last-minute scramble to get ready to go, you’re finally all set to head out on your next family vacation – or so you thought. How many times have you pulled out of your driveway only to realize that you’ve forgotten something important? No matter how much we plan or how many times we double or triple check that everything has been packed, something always seems to slip through the cracks.
The trick to remembering everything and not over-packing is to make a list, but a list is only helpful when you already know what you’ll need. When you’re visiting somewhere new, especially somewhere rugged like the Grand Canyon, deciding what to pack can feel like a guessing game. To make your job a little easier, we’ve created a list of must-have items for your Grand Canyon adventure.
1. Comfortable, sturdy shoes
Dressing for the environment is the key to having a great Grand Canyon adventure, and that means you need comfortable shoes. Even the most developed parts of the Grand Canyon, like the South Rim, have fairly rugged terrain. Running shoes, sport sandals, and hiking boots are all good choices; high heels, flimsy sandals, and new shoes are not.
If you’ll be doing any hiking, wear mid-weight boots with lots of ankle support. For a more casual walk along the Rim trails, comfortable shoes with good tread are sufficient.
2. Light layers
Light layers are versatile and will also protect your skin from the sun, which is exactly what you need when you visit the Grand Canyon.
In the summer, shorts, good shoes, and a light t-shirt are perfect. In the winter, jeans, good shoes, and a comfortable longer sleeved shirt are more appropriate. Bring along a light jacket or hoodie as well – that way, you can add layers when you’re cold, or remove them if the weather is warmer than you expected.
If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon on a guided tour, always check your tour description for recommended attire or any special clothing requirements, like close-toed shoes.
3. A hat
In the summer, bring a hat with a wide brim to protect you from the sun; if you’re visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter, pack a warmer hat – the temperatures can drop lower than you might expect, especially in the morning or evening.
No matter what time of year you plan to visit the Grand Canyon, you should always bring sunglasses – the sun shines brightly even in the winter.
Just like sunglasses, no matter what time of year you plan to visit the Grand Canyon, you should always bring sunscreen – you can get a sunburn in the winter too!
6. Lots of water, in a disposable or reusable water bottle
The air at the Grand Canyon is very dry, so you might find yourself feeling thirsty faster than you’d expect; as a result, dehydration is common at the Grand Canyon.
A good rule of thumb is to pack at least three quarts of water per adult. If you’re planning on hiking along or below the Rim, pack more water than you think you’ll need. Do your research before you leave and make sure you understand which trails have water fountains, as well as where they’re located on the trail and throughout the park.
You never know when you’ll need to fuel up. Small, light, and easily packable snacks like trail mix and granola bars are perfect for hot days, especially if you are travelling with children.
8. Your camera and spare batteries
No matter what Rim you visit or how you choose to get there, there will be no shortage of spectacular photo opportunities at the Grand Canyon – unless you forget your camera.
Make sure your Grand Canyon snaps turn out great with our photography tips and tricks. And don’t forget to share your #CanyonSelfie and your other awesome shots with us on Instagram – just tag us @CanyonTours! If you don’t have Instagram, tag us on Twitter or Facebook. We love seeing and sharing your photos.
9. Bandages or a small first aid kit
Small scrapes and scratches and blisters happen, so be prepared! Everyone knows that a cool bandage makes everything feel better.
10. A small backpack
A light backpack makes it much easier to carry bulky things like water and sunscreen. Plus, it’s better for your back and it leaves your hands free for snapping photos.
11. Activities for kids
There’s lots for kids to do at the Grand Canyon, but it never hurts to pack a few small toys or books to keep your kids occupied while you wait in line for the shuttle bus or activities like Ranger demonstrations, or to keep them occupied on the long drive.
12. A mask
Face may be required on NPS-administered lands where physical distancing cannot be maintained, as well as inside all NPS buildings and facilities.
Check out their website for the latest Covid-19 updates.
Make sure your Grand Canyon adventure goes off without a hitch! Add these must-have items to your Grand Canyon packing list, or download our free printable Grand Canyon packing list and get packing!
Get more tips for planning your Grand Canyon vacation with our answers to questions you never thought to ask.