Arizona

Know Before You Go | Visiting The Grand Canyon With Kids

A family shot at the most popular, safest, and easily accessible Mather Point look out at Grand Canyon National Park.

Thinking of visiting the Grand Canyon with kids? There are some things you should know before you go, and I’m not just talking about those sketchy guard rails.

The Grand Canyon is one of those things you have to see at some point in your life. It’s massive. So massive in fact, that your brain cannot comprehend just how wide and deep it is as you stand in front of it. You find yourself saying, ‘wow’ over and over again. It’s worth seeing!

That being said, it’s not the easiest place to visit. Especially with kids. I’m going to break down for you how a visit to The Grand Canyon works and what you need to consider before making the trip.

How Sketchy Are Those Fences?

We had heard about the sketchy rails at the park. In fact, if you want to walk the trails along the rim, there are no rails at all. No rails, guys! If you were to venture five feet to your right, you’d be met with a sheer 500-1000 foot drop. I don’t want to scare you, but on average, someone dies once a month at this National Park. There are lose rocks and gravel everywhere. That’s enough to make even the most confident parent anxious!

Because our kids are young and love to run (and often slip and fall), we opted to avoid the rim trails all together. It wasn’t worth the risk. We stuck to specific viewing points with fencing, and we still held their hands the entire time. This is why…

The Grand Canyon fences
That’s it, folks. This rail came to about my rib cage and there are nice big holes at the bottom dropping straight down. Do not approach without holding onto your kids!

A person could easily climb, lean, or slip underneath that railing. And it happens. Most of the accidents that occur are a result of people trying to get the best Instagram worthy shot, but people have leaned over too far or slipped beneath. No photo is worth your life. Keep a firm grip on those rails and your children!

Getting Around the Grand Canyon

Visiting the Grand Canyon with kids - what you need to know.
Obligatory sign picture.

Getting around Grand Canyon Park can be a tad frustrating. You cannot simply drive from point to point – at least not for a majority of the year. If you’re visiting from March through late Fall, you’ll park at one of several lots then take a series of shuttles to various look outs around the rim.

The main parking lot will allow you to walk to Mather Point, the most easily accessible and best fenced view. This is also where you’ll find the Visitor Center and shuttle stops for all the loops. From there, you’ll decide whether you want to take the Blue Route, Red Route, Orange Route, or Purple Route. All of these routes will take you to different spots within the Park.

Before you go, you need to decide how much time you want to spend within the Park and what you want to see. You could easily spend two days here if you wish to view multiple look outs, go for walks, and check out the various out buildings and museums. Take a look at the official site to get an idea. I don’t suggest simply showing up without a plan.

What Did Our Kids Think?

The one and only spot we didn’t cling to our kids at – Mather Point.

They thought it was cool for about five minutes. We spent four hours total at Grand Canyon National Park, but the kids found busing and transferring to be extremely tedious. To be honest, so did we. Keep in mind that they’re all under the age of 7. If your kids are older, this maybe wouldn’t be such a hassle. You also have the option of walking along the rim if your kids can be trusted to not wander too close to the edge.

The Park was extremely busy by 10am. Lines for the washroom were 40+ people long. Tour buses were unloading large masses of passengers. I originally planned to get the littles involved in the Junior Ranger Program, but after seeing a line of 20+ people at the desk, we quickly decided to skip it. Perhaps our visit landed on a randomly busy day (a week day after Spring Break), but I was told that it was nothing compared to Summer crowds. Yikes.

If you are concerned about the crowds, consider visiting in January/February. You will take the risk of road closures due to ice, but you’ll be able to drive your own vehicle to more of the spots since shuttle aren’t running. The further we got away from the visitor center, the less people there were at each look out.

Would We Go Back?

Visiting the Grand Canyon with kids

Visiting the Grand Canyon with kids, would we do it again? Probably not. We’ve seen it, marveled, taken a picture, and moved on. It costs $35 to enter and park a vehicle. It would only be worth going back to if we booked some kind of expedition into the Canyon, like a helicopter or horseback riding adventure.

There is nothing else close by to the Grand Canyon. The closest town is an hour away. We believe we made a very good call choosing our vacation base in the town of Sedona, approximately two hours away.

As for Sedona? Now that’s a place I’d return to. I’ll share more about that in another post.

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