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Grand Canyon South Rim, Arizona
Fast Facts
Natural Wonder
Pack & Saddle
Horseback Riding
Historic Interest
Tourist Attractions
Kid-Friendly Hotels
Family Travel Tips

Grand Canyon


Photo by National Park Service

A family vacation to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park offers families more than a view of a gaping hole. Hike, horseback ride or take a mule trip. Visit a museum or explore an Anasazi archaeological site. Take a train tour from Williams through the Wild West. And if expectations are managed properly, cultivate appreciation for one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Getting There
A family trip to the Grand Canyon South Rim means time in the car whether you are traveling from Las Vegas, Phoenix or Flagstaff. Trans Canyon Shuttle provides a daily rim-to-rim shuttle service, roughly 4.5 hours, for a fee from mid-May to mid-October. The train trip from Williams to the South Rim provides a diversion for young kids and is a great option for day visitors and families intent on exploring the Grand Canyon on foot. The South Rim is 231 miles (372 km) from Phoenix and roughly the same distance from the North Rim. There are two entrances to the South Rim, east and south. The East Entrance is accessible from Highway 64 in Cameron. The South Entrance is just north of the town of Tusayan. The vast majority of visitors enter the South Rim through the South Entrance. Use the East Entrance during the peak season and avoid long lines.
Getting Around
A free shuttle bus operates along four routes. The Hermit Road and the road to Yaki Point/South Kaibab are CLOSED to private vehicles from March through November. Be prepared to park your car for the duration, hike or take the bus. South Rim hiking ranges from easy to extreme. Review both the difficulty and length before departing on a hike with kids. None of the trails are circular, no matter where you hike you will be walking along the same path on the return, and none of the hikes into the Canyon are easy. Ranger led nature walks are a great way to enhance your child's knowledge and appreciation of the Grand Canyon. Backcountry permits are required for camping outside of the designated campgrounds. Bicycles are permitted on all paved and unpaved Grand Canyon National Park roads. They are prohibited on all other trails. A mule trip is an alternative means of exploring the canyon below the rim whether you take the 7-hour trip to Plateau Point or the overnight trek to Phantom Ranch on the canyon floor. The Grand Canyon can also be toured by helicopter and small plane.
When to Travel
The best time of year to visit the South Rim is in May and October. Expect snow in winter and rain in summer and crowds during the high season. The peak season isn't limited to summer weekends and the month of July but includes the week between Christmas and New Year, Spring Break, and holiday weekends throughout the year. Don't be fooled by 'cooler' temperatures on the rim, during the peak summer months (June - August) the daytime temperature along the Colorado River can reach 120º F (50° Celsius) and hiking in the canyon is discouraged during the peak heat hours.
Health & Safety
Select your hike with care. Be sure the trail does not exceed the ability of the slowest and least experienced walker in your family. Take similarly graded walks and build up your endurance prior to departing on a family trip. Particular attention is warranted during summer months.
Hours & Seasons
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round but some facilities may be closed in winter. The Hermit Road and the road to Yaki Point/South Kaibab are CLOSED to private vehicles from March through November. Ranger-led programs are offered daily. Location varies. Family programs are offered from mid June through late August. Age range varies.
Admission & Fees
Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park is charged per vehicle unless you are traveling on foot, bike or motorcycle in which case the fee is per person. Commercial vehicles are charged on capacity. A back country fee is charged for all multi-day trips in the canyon. Admission to the various visitor centers and range-led programs are free of charge.
Things to Keep in Mind
Wear sturdy shoes and keep a close eye on the kids notwithstanding the guardrails along the South Rim. Much of the Rim Trail is wheelchair accessible; bikes are not permitted on the trails. The minimum height for mule rides is 4'7" (1.38m), the maximum weight 200 lbs (91kg) fully dressed. During the peak season, reservations should be made months if not a year in advance. Head to Yavapai rather than Mather Point during the peak season and enjoy comparable views with roughly 1/4 of the crowd. Make the trip to the Desert View Information Center and enjoy the views in near solitude.
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Travel Trivia
Puerto Madryn is located on the shore of which Ocean: