visiting the grand canyon with kids

Ultimate Guide to Visiting Grand Canyon National Park With Kids

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Are you taking a family trip to Grand Canyon National Park with kids? From kid friendly activities like the Grand Canyon National Park junior ranger program to family and kid friendly hikes inside Grand Canyon National Park, we will help make planning your trip a breeze! Most tourists visit the South Rim when visiting the park, and that is what we will focus on in this post.

visiting the grand canyon with kids

How to get to Grand Canyon National Park

There are several ways to get to Grand Canyon National Park. Most out of state visitors fly either into Phoenix (3.5 hours) or Las Vegas (4 hours). There’s also a smaller airport in Flagstaff, just an hour from the South Rim entrance. If you live in Southern California like we do, it will take you about 8 hours to drive to the South Rim of the canyon.

If you fly into or drive via Vegas, be sure to make a pit stop in Oatman, AZ to see the wild donkeys roaming the street!

wild donkeys oatman arizona
oatman arizona wild donkeys

Best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park

The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park will be in the spring (March through May) and fall (September through November). The crowds will have thinned out and the temperatures are much cooler, making hiking much more enjoyable. Summer months are very hot and very crowded, and lodging books up months in advance. We went at the end of October and while it wasn’t very crowded, it was frigid! Temps were in the 20s one day and 60s the next. We even saw snow on our drive!

visiting the grand canyon with kids

Where to stay when visiting Grand Canyon National Park

Camping at Grand Canyon National Park

If you are tent camping or have an RV, there are several options for your stay. Mather campground is one of the most popular campgrounds and is open year-round. You can make reservations up to 6 months in advance, and it’s highly recommended during peak travel times!

Trailer village RV park is great for those traveling with an RV and has full hook ups. It is also open year round, making it a great option no matter what time of year you visit.

Best family friendly hotel in Grand Canyon National Park

Looking for the best kid friendly hotel inside Grand Canyon National Park? One of the best things about this National Park is that there is lodging right inside the park. There are several different family friendly accommodation options inside Grand Canyon National Park. In the past, we have stayed at Bright Angel Lodge and Thunderbird Lodge. On our most recent trip, we stayed at Yavapai Lodge. If you are traveling during the peak travel season, book well in advance as these book up fast!

The Yavapai Lodge isn’t anything special, but the rooms are nice and you’re inside the park, a short drive to anything you may want to do.

Room inside the Yavapai Lodge in the Grand Canyon
Yavapai Lodge inside the Grand Canyon

Best family friendly hotel outside of Grand Canyon National Park

Don’t want to stay in the park? There are several family friendly hotels outside of the park, just a short drive away. The Grand Hotel, Red Feather Lodge, Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon are just some of the options. You can see all the hotels near the entrance on this map:

Where to eat when visiting the Grand Canyon with kids

If you are staying inside the park, there are several food options so you don’t even have to leave the park if you don’t want to. At the Yavapai Lodge, there’s a restaurant and also a market where you can get groceries and a deli/coffee shop inside. The Maswik Lodge has a food hall, with several different food options to choose from. El Tovar has a higher end restaurants if you’re looking for something fancier. Bright Angel has the Arizona Room restaurant as well as the Bright Angel restaurants and coffee shop.

Just outside of the park, are many more options. There’s fast food (McDonald’s and Wendy’s) that are popular with families. Pizza Hut inside the visitor’s center, a pizza and pasta place, several steakhouses and a Mexican restaurant. For a National Park, there are quite a bit of options for dining!

Things to bring when visiting Grand Canyon National Park with kids

  • Kid Size Binoculars There are lots of things to see in the Grand Canyon so your kids will want their own binoculars.
  • Hiking Backpack: I can’t recommend the Osprey Daylite enough! It’s comfortable and perfect for day hikes. Even Milana liked carrying it for a bit.
  • Appropriate Footwear: You’re going to be hiking, so bring shoes that you can comfortably hike in. Milana has these Plae Charlie waterproof shoes that are great for hiking. I use these Merrell hiking shoes that are super comfortable for long hikes.
  • National Park Journal: Milana writes in her travel journal on every trip so I wanted to find one specific for National Parks and love the one we got.

Books for kids about the Grand Canyon

Things to do in Grand Canyon National Park with kids

Go on a hike! There are many options for hiking inside of the Grand Canyon. From easy, short hikes to more strenuous ones, you’re bound to find one that fits your family’s hiking level.

Best kid friendly hikes inside Grand Canyon National Park

Unlike many other National Parks, there aren’t many family friendly trails inside Grand Canyon National Park. If you’re thinking of hiking all the way down and back with your kids, keep in mind that it will take you at least 4 hours to walk to the bottom and longer to walk back up. Definitely not kid friendly!

  • Yavapai Point: This is a 1.6 mile out and back trail that is good for families with young kids.
  • Grand Canyon Rim Trail: Just as it sounds, you are walking along the rim here. Do the entire thing (12.7 miles) or a part of it. It’s great for all skill levels and offers some beautiful views!
  • Bright Angel Trail: Now I won’t say this is kid-friendly because well most kids won’t be hiking 18.4 miles down a steep downhill only to come back up a steep uphill. But you can do a portion of this trail at least just be aware there are no barriers and if your kids are runners, this isn’t something you should attempt. We hiked just a little bit down because Milana wanted to see it.
visiting the grand canyon with kids
Trail near Bright Angel Lodge
Rim Trail
visiting the grand canyon with kids
Mather Point
visiting the grand canyon with kids
Rim Trail
visiting the grand canyon with kids
Rim Trail
visiting the grand canyon with kids
Bright Angel Trail

Explore the Grand Canyon on bikes

If your family likes bike rides, you can rent bikes for your entire family right inside the park. Bike Grand Canyon has adult and kid bikes to rent hourly, half day or full day. There are several different rides you can take, the best for families will be the Hopi Point to Hermit’s Rest ride. A shuttle drops you off at Hopi Point and picks you up at Hermit’s Rest to take you back to the bike shop.

Grand Canyon Junior Ranger Program

Be sure to stop at a Grand Canyon visitor’s center to pick up a Junior Ranger Booklet and badge. There are several to choose from and each is park specific, meaning the activities go with whatever park you’re visiting. And don’t forget to ask for a passport stamp, we put ours into our National Parks journal.

If you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon with kids, we hope this guide was helpful to help plan your trip. We spent 2 nights inside the park and that was plenty. Unlike other National Parks, you can cover a lot of ground in 2 days!

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