Family Friendly Grand Canyon Trips
Did you trade in your backpack for a diaper bag so many years ago? Do you daydream about that one time when you and your partner rafted the Colorado River? When you and your college friends took a helicopter tour over one of the most majestic sites in the world? Or have you always wanted to take your weekend hiking trips to the next level? Do you have memories of visiting the Grand Canyon as a kid, standing at the South Rim and being in complete awe? Wish that your dad would have taken you whitewater rafting? Or that your mother would have agreed to tent camp in the backwoods of a national park?
Why taking the kids on outdoor adventures is the right choice
If you were an adventurer or an outdoors-loving traveler prior to having kids, and they hear you talk about it, they will most likely want to do it too. Kids are curious and adventurous by nature. It’s time to reignite that passion and share it with those who matter most.
If you have been an armchair dreamer about being active and soaking in the great outdoors but fear of the unknown or feeling like you physically may not measure up to the challenge, it is time to change that. You want to be a model for your kids. You don’t want to transfer generational fear. My mom was terrified of water. But I could swim like a fish by the time I was five because she was determined for that to not be my story. (Thanks mom). Just be smart about what you choose to do based on your experience and ability. Push yourself, but be practical about the direction because remember this is supposed to be fun for all of you.
Outdoorsman Gabe Grayum writes “Immersing kids in the wild is the best way for them to develop a deep love for the outdoors. They’ll be the next-generation stewards of our wild places, and you’ll be helping them build a healthy exercise habit.”
A report out of the UK found that “if children do not form a connection with the great outdoors before they are 12, they are far less likely to later in life.”
Most of us already know in America that overconsumption is a very real problem. The best thing you can do for your kids is teach them an appreciation for their natural surroundings. Provide your kids with more opportunities than things. Your 12 year old is not going to remember that cell phone you bought her 20 years from now even if she was super excited about it when she got it. She will, however, remember the time you both fell climbing into a row boat and nearly took the guide out in the process. Make memories and instill a thirst to explore.
Family and kid friendly Grand Canyon adventures
There is a lot of great info out there for family friendly Grand Canyon experiences. So this list is nowhere near all that there is to be found. But we put some effort into handpicking a few options that may appeal to those who have never done anything like this before as well as experienced hikers. Be sure to check out the additional tips and links in the last section of this post after you browse the options and take the time to share your experiences.
North Rim Family Hiking Adventure
- Overview: This is a half day trip classified as a family class and has a Level 1 hike level rating (perfect for beginners). An instructor from the Grand Canyon Field Institute will guide you and your crew from the North Rim General Store along the Transcept Trail to the North Kaibab Trail. This is a well maintained trail that will take you to the Coconino Overlook.
- Age Limits: Children must be 8 or older
- When: Offered June, July, August and September Monday through Friday
- Cost: $45 for GCA members and $49 for non members
- Overview: This is a great way to experience the Colorado River leaving out of Page Arizona via the Glen Canyon Dam. An experienced guide will take you along a 15.5 mile full day adventure on a much calmer ride to experience the river with a midday stop at Petroglyph beach to stretch, swim, see the ancient petroglyphs of Native American tribes. A bistro bag lunch is provided. This trip gets great reviews.
- Age Limits: Children must be 4 or older
- When: One daily departure per day from March 1- November 15
- Cost: $82 total per child age 4-11 and $92 total per age 12 and up
- Overview: This trip leaves out of Las Vegas with a 60 minute helicopter flight over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon’s West Rim. You and your family will enjoy a one of a kind viewing experience as you descend into the canyon and fly over the Colorado River. Then you will enjoy a short river raft cruise with a beach stop off for lunch. Your trip will wrap up with a chance to shop for souvenirs before the return to your hotel. Check out the other family friendly options that include access to the Skywalk.
- Age Limits: Ages 8 and up
- When: Check for availability for season
- Cost: Prices start as low as $439.99 plus fuel charges per person
- Overview: AZ Raft adventures have quite a few trips to choose from. What makes this one perfect for those who have a bit of reservations about hardcore hikes with the kids is that because it is a full canyon trip, you really aren’t required to physically hike down to the lower canyon or back up to the upper canyon. Yet each day there are stops to hike or chill and your family will camp each night along the Colorado River. This doesn’t mean that the trip won’t require the physical endurance that it takes to help unload, tear down, go on hikes, cope with heat, etc. But this trip offers an overall great experience. Imagine 8 days on the Colorado River exploring the Grand Canyon.
- Age Limits: 10 and up
- When: Dates can be scheduled April through August
- Cost: $2565 per person
- Overview: You and yours will be picked up in Las Vegas, take a small plane ride to Bar 10 Ranch in Arizona. You will have access to horseback riding, hiking, skeet shooting and atv riding. Country entertainment is weaved into this trip along with a helicopter cruise, a rafting trip with medium to low intensity rapids, camping, side canyon hikes and more.
- Age Limits: 7 and older
- When: Dates can be scheduled April through September
- Cost: $2341 per person for 2015; $2379 per person for 2016
Additional tips and resources
A lot goes into planning a family adventure. By choosing a guided tour of some kind you will have both the element of excitement and the security of a knowledgeable person by your side. This is especially helpful for those just breaking into the beautiful world of outdoor adventures and for those who have never visited the Grand Canyon. Whether you are planning a day long guided trip, an extended trip, or simply planning on camping in the park check out these tips and resources:
- Start planning early. Many tours and trips fill up a year in advance (but people will also cancel for various reasons so if you are determined keep checking in)
- Single parent? Consider getting a group together if you would be more comfortable with more adults helping out with the kids.
- Plan the trip that works for you and your family. Keep the heat, the cost, pace, level of hiking difficulty, experience and comfort with water in mind
- Planning for a family vacation is great incentive to work on your fitness
- If you want to do some camping on your own away from designated areas you will need to obtain a backcountry permit.
- Check out the National Park Service for more info on family friendly trips, stay up on park alerts and the Junior Ranger programs for the little ones
- Take the time to read all of the information carefully for any trip you plan to take. You can download itineraries, be clear on what is provided, what you need to bring, what fees are included and excluded, etc.
- Read the reviews. This is a great way to pick up on extra tips from people who have hiked certain trails, advice on how much water you should bring, etc.
More sites for kid friendly Grand Canyon activities and tips
Do you have a story to share about taking your kids on a Grand Canyon adventure? Any tips and advice for rookies?