Visiting the Grand Canyon

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Inexpensive lodging close to the South Rim?

March 2016

We're looking for a nice but economical hotel very close to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Any recent recommendations would be appreciated. Also other South Rim recommendations welcome, for easy hikes and out-of-the-way sights. Thanks.

Last Thanksgiving I took a very short trip to the Grand Canyon. Not wanting to waste time driving back and forth between the park and town, I paid the higher amount to stay in the park - but at the very cheapest place. We stayed at the Yavapai Lodge, and it was fine. I liked the fact that the layout had us more 'in nature' than I had expected (small groups of units with lots of trees around), and I could walk on a long trail right outside my door (but not in sight of the canyon without getting on the shuttle). It was too bad not to have a microwave or fridge in the room, and there's no wifi in the room, but they had a good central lodge with various food choices and wifi. I liked the fact they actually had recycling in the room as well as trash - why don't more places do that? Staff were friendly and it was quiet when we were there. - Enjoy!

Family reunion meet-up at the Grand Canyon

Oct 2013

My extended family is planning a destination reunion for the summer of 2014 or 2015. We are 15 people (8 adults, 7 kids age 3-16). We will be coming from the Bay Area, the East Coast and the midwest. We are thinking about meeting near the Grand Canyon. None of us have been there. Any recommendations on where to go/how to make this happen? We are interested in the history and culture and the geology/nature of the area, so we'd like to take advantage of that too. Thanks in advance! anonymous

We love the Southwest and go often. The Grand Canyon is beautiful. However, in summer it is very hot there. We try to visit in the Spring or Fall. Zion and Bryce might be a little cooler that time of year and offer similar geologic wonders. Arches National Park. Also Mesa Verde is incredible for the Anasazi architectural remains. Those places I believe are a little cooler. Good luck! Eden

I have visited the Grand Canyon about one dozen times, by air, car, or a combination. There are two major gateway cities for air travel-Las Vegas, particularly good for the North Rim, and Phoenix, Az, for the South Rim. The North Rim is more wild and much less crowded than the South Rim, but there are less facilities. Your group could fly to and meet up in either city, rent a van, or separate cars.

The Grand Canyon is much more beautiful than those black and white pictures in the old textbooks. You will love it. lynn

Rafting the Grand Canyon

Jan 2013

Any current recommendations about rafting the grand canyon this summer? Which segment, what company? Karen

AZRA! They were great. We did both segments back to back so we would not have to hike into or out of Shadow Ranch. Some other companies can helicopter you out. I liked the top section best. If you are active, take a hybrid trip where you can paddle the paddle raft part time. Otherwise you are a passenger on the oar raft unless they let you row the quiet stretches. There were more quiet stretches than I had imagined. Fantastic company, fab food, great side trips. Totally memorable. We went in July a few years ago. kathryn

My husband and I rafted the Grand Canyon two summers ago, and it was an amazing experience. There are three ways to 'raft' the canyon, and your choice will influence which company you use. The first option is a big, motorized craft which holds about 25 guests. It's very non-interactive; you sit on the big inflatable wearing a life jacket and watch the canyon go buy. The second option is an oar boat, which is a smaller inflatable maneuvered by the guide while the passengers again sit and watch. The third option--which is what we did--is a six-person paddle boat steered by a guide. All passengers have a paddle and actively participate in propelling and maneuvering the boat. It's very participatory, great exercise, and a lot of fun. We booked with Outdoors Unlimited, which was recommended by a friend in Oregon that owns a rafting company. I figured if someone in the rafting community was recommending OU, it was probably a good choice. We plan on doing the trip again in a few years and I would definitely use OU again.

In terms of trip options, you can do the upper river (generally 5 or 6 days from Lake Powell to the Bright Angel trail), lower river (8 or 9 days from the Bright Angel trail to Lake Mead), or the whole river (15 days from Lake Powell to Lake Mead). We did the lower river, and while 9 days seemed like a lot when we signed up for the trip, I was very sad when it was over and will definitely do the entire river the next time.

A warning that if you do only the upper river, you have to hike out at the Bright Angel trail, which is an eight-mile, uphill, very hot hike to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. As we were hiking down the trail to meet for our launch, we passed a lot of miserable people who were hiking out. Erin

A day at the South Rim with two 11-year-olds

Feb 2012

I'm driving two 11 year olds to visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon over spring break. I have the first half of the drive covered (stopping in Anaheim and spending the next day at Disneyland). Then, I'm not sure what to do next! I figure we'll spend a day driving to the general South Rim area. I'd like recs on: What to do along the way Arizona/GC hotel (inexpensive, please) Places to eat in the GC area What to do at the GC I'm thinking the kids may ooh and aah for the first ten minutes of the GC view, and then be ready to move on. I figure we'll go to the visitor's center, and it looks like you can arrange short burro rides. We're going because one kid is studying the GC in science right now, and when I went to the GC, the sight blew my mind, and I'm hoping the kids might be mature enough to appreciate it. Thanks for your suggestions! Tumbleweed Mom

The rim of the Grand Canyon is really boring. You nailed it- you look at the view, ooh and ah, and then ask what's next. The food is really bad. I will not go to the Grand Canyon again unless i get to go down into the canyon. You can hike in and out (brutal) or take donkeys. If it's not booked, you can stay for a few days at Phantom Ranch. Once you're down in it, it's amazing. You can hike, swim, etc. There's a whole lot of nothing to do on top. If you are staying on top, bring mountain bikes so you'll have something to do. Previously disappointed

We stayed at the park accommodations near the west end of the south rim visitor center area; it was reasonably priced, motel-like rooms, as I recall. If you can get them up 'before dawn' to see the sun fill the canyon (5 minute walk from the hotel), I think they'll be impressed! There's a shuttle that takes you west along the rim and stops at several places where you can get out and rubber-neck, ending at a place with a snack bar. In the evening, hopefully happening during Spring Break, they have fire-circle park ranger presentations a bit east of the visitor center, which was fun and definitely kid friendly. Nils

Hiking into the Grand Canyon with a 9-year-old

May 2010

We are making our first trip to the Grand Canyon in June, will headquartered in Sedona but renting a car. Has anyone hiked down into the Canyon and back up to the rim with kids? Is it too much to do in one day? I hear you can stay in the Canyon itself and that it's also possible to go in and out via pack mule. Our son is pretty good about hikes but I'm wondering if it's too much to expect. Thanks for any recommendations re/strategy. We also want to go to the Petrified Forest. Karen

A day trip from Sedona to and down into the Grand Canyon is a loooooooong day. We did it, but did not go all the down to the bottom. Not sure you could do that in one day. Funny, it was easier coming up (for all of us) than going down.

I hiked to the bottom of the canyon and back to the top as a very fit twenty-something. This is a really serious hike, and would unlikely to be fun for a 9 year old due to the elevation change and heat, and might not really be doable for many kids. The bottom of the canyon is not spectacular as the river is fairly tame, and there is little view at the bottom. The really spectacular views are about half-way down, where you get a view of the immensity of the canyon. I would recommend trying to overnight in the canyon with sleeping bags if you are into that. Most of the trailheads are suitable. If you don't want to overnight, you can enjoy the canyon by just hiking down for 1.5 hrs, resting for a bit, and back for 2 hrs. That will be enough for a 9 yr old, and still be spectacular for everyone in the party. Also, you may want to consider visiting Havasupai, which is in the canyon and even has a hotel. That's really an unbelievable place. I used to live in Arizona near the Canyon and have been down at least a dozen times. Rocky feet.

You definitely should NOT plan to hike in and out in one day. Actually, you will find all kinds of grim signs along the Bright Angel trail warning you against doing exactly what you are thinking of doing -- pictures of little dead stick figures with their tongues hanging out. You can spend the night in the Canyon and get up early for the hike out. The night in the Canyon would be fun -- you can camp or take advantage of a lodge (forgot what it is called) on the Canyon floor.

If you try a down-and-back hike, in addition to the serious physical risks, you will risk missing out on the gorgeous beauty of the Canyon. It is truly spectacular and if you are worried about getting down and back, you're going to be rushed and miserable.

I did the hike out a few years ago after a rafting trip. Even though I was in good shape, and had trained for the hike out (with a heavy backpack), it was one of the tougher days of my life. The sun is beating against you for the majority of the hike out and you lose an insane amount of water and electrolytes hiking. So, take your time, be prepared for the hike out, and enjoy it. It's once-in-a-lifetime. It's great that you are going to do it with your son! Grand Canyon survivor

Hi - I went to a service training course at Grand Canyon (I work for the National Park Service) a few years ago in early July, and several of my colleagues there were search and rescue rangers who worked in desert parks (Death Valley, Mojave, Bryce Canyon). We went for a hike into the canyon and here is my experience.

We started EARLY morning (around 5:30 am) from them South Rim. I carried several liters of water with me for a half day hike, and I hiked about 1/3rd of the way down the trail to the bottom. While I did not drink all my water, I was glad to have it and was able to give water to people I met on the trail who needed it. The GC was steep and hard on my knees, even with a walking stick.

By 9:00 am the temperature had topped 100*F. I went down half-way down, and was back at the Visitors station at the South rim by 1 pm. By then it was 115*F. My colleagues went to the bottom of the Canyon, and stayed overnight at the Ranger Station. It was 127*F on the floor of the canyon, but they were enjoyed the relative bliss of 95*F cool down at the ranger station where they stayed.

Nevertheless, the medical team at the bottom of the canyon had to treat two of these five VERY EXPERIENCED desert Search and Rescue professionals for unbalanced electrolytes and heat exhaustion. Unbalanced electrolytes happen if you drink too much water in an attempt to cool down. They hiked back up the next morning, and were all terribly exhausted by the experience (but awestruck by it as well).

During my hike up (around 11:30 am) I saw a group of big men with big guts (shirtless and in flip-flops) carrying tiny 8 oz bottles of water. They loudly declared their intention to go to the bottom and make it back in time for a hearty steak dinner. No doubt, many of the five heli-lifts I saw that day were hikers like these.

The canyon is very beautiful, but it can be deadly if you are not prepared. Even with careful preparation it is wild, steep, exhausting, hot environment. Please DO NOT try to hike it in a day, you risk your life and the life of your family. If I seem insistent about this it is b/c one of my colleagues was late to the training that week... she was late b/c she had just come off an S&R mission at Mojave which concluded with the death of an elderly man in her arms from dehydration and heat exposure.

It is possible to do the canyon, but it takes more than a day, and it takes careful preparation. For information, contact the park and the Park's excellent cooperating association. Consider a guided tour as well - I hear the mule tours are wonderful (though not for people who are afraid of heights): sd

Hi, that sounds like a great trip! If you are considering hiking all the way down to the Colorado River and back in one day, though, I would highly recommend against it. It's at least an 18 mile round-trip hike, with 10,000 feet of elevation loss and gain (5000 down and 5000 back up). It can also be very, very hot, with virtually no shade. I did the round trip hike in a day when I was 18, but it was very long, and it was in March, so was cooler. Though I don't know your 9-year old, I know that the hike is very difficult and the Park Service discourages it for good reason. I've heard that camping at the bottom is great, though I've not done it. This would give a wonderful opportunity to see the canyon more leisurely and at night, which I imagine would be wonderful.

Speaking as someone who went to the Grand Canyon a few times, including once as an 11 year old boy, (I'm now 33), I would also offer the following suggestion, for what it's worth to you. At that age, I liked going places where I could climb on things, play in a river, etc. The Grand Canyon is very grand, of course, but when I went at age 11, the grandeur was kind of lost on me. In my experience, kids that age don't get as much out of views as out of close- up experiences (climbing, swimming, shorter hiking, etc). So, while the Grand Canyon is, of course, worth seeing, I would also recommend the following in the area:

Fossil Creek wilderness, near Strawberry, Arizona (not too far from Sedona). It's a couple miles down to a beautiful creek with crystal spring water and great swimming.

If you're adventurous, there are actually some little-known caves that are in the Grand Canyon. They are on Horseshoe Mesa. Just take the trail to Horseshoe Mesa, then look back up the hillside and you'll see a tiny opening in the cliff. Bring flashlights. They are undeveloped and require crawling around on hands and knees. They are not on any maps that I've seen.

I don't know how far afield you want to go, but Antelope Canyon is one of the most magical places I know of. It's on the Navajo reservation up near Page, AZ (a couple hour drive north of Flagstaff). It's best (and may even be required) to take a guided tour with a Navajo guide. see:

Have a great trip! southwest traveler

Hi, We hiked into the Grand Canyon with our ten year old son last year, spent two nights at the bottom at Phantom Ranch and then hiked up and out. We hiked down the S. Kaibab Trail and hiked up the Bright Angel Trail. My husband and I had done many hiking and backpacking trips to the Grand Canyon prior to taking this trip with our son. I have a lot of advice!

First, if you've never been to the GC before, read as much as you can about the park, the trails, the hiking and so on. Also, carefully consider the time of year. The heat of summer will be a deal breaker. Spring or fall are best. Do NOT underestimate the summer heat! And do not underestimate how much more difficult it is to hike up and out than it is to hike down.

Hiking to the river and back out in a day is a very strenuous undertaking and the park service does NOT recommend it. There is about a 5000 foot elevation gain/loss between the rim and the river and even the hike downhill is strenuous! It is about a 16 mile hike but remember, not all miles are created equal! These are strenuous miles!

Again, if you've never been before, consider doing something like a day hike along the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point (a scenic spot that you can view the river from.) Even this is a 12 mile round trip hike that may take as long as 8 hours.

As far as staying at the bottom goes, good luck! You can backpack and stay at the bottom but you must have reservations in advance (go to the GC nps website to learn more.) There is a wonderful rustic lodge called Phantom Ranch at the bottom too. It has single-sex dorm lodging and a small number of cabins that a family can stay in. Typically Phantom Ranch is booked 13 months in advance. (Again, see the park service website to learn more.)

That said, our little family planned more than a year in advance, got reservations at PR and drove to the GC for spring break. I hiked challenging, uphill trails in Tilden with my son at least once a week in the months leading up to our trip and talked about the 'mental challenge' of the trip and got him all psyched up for it. We had a wonderful family trip and he was a champ of a hiker! But I would never consider going to the river and back up in a day with a 9 or 10 year old. Ever. GC hiker

I've hiked and backpacked numerous times in the Grand Canyon with my kids, at ages from 6 to 13. Yes, you can do it, too. I would recommend against a mule trip - probably boring for a kid to sit all day, a pain in the rear (literally), smelly, and quite expensive. I'd recommend a dayhike rather than backpacking because of the time of year (it gets very hot at the bottom in June!), difficulty getting a place to stay (reservations for camp spots start 4 months ahead), and because you don't have to carry nearly as much weight to dayhike. I'd also recommend getting a very very early start on your hike(s) to beat the heat.

Now, here are some hiking suggestions, based on starting from Sedona, which is 2-2.5 hours from the South Rim:

1) Leave Sedona at 5:30 am, drive to the main South Rim area (eat snacks in the car en route), park near the top of the Bright Angel Trail (ample parking available), and start hiking by 8 am. Hike down the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens (about 4.5 miles), and then 1/2 -1 mile further down the trail along Garden Creek. Garden Creek has many trees, pools and small waterfalls, unusual for Grand Canyon dayhikes; pick a spot, and hang out/rest/eat lunch/nap/bathe through the heat of the day. Start back up at 4-5 pm, and expect to be out well before dark (8-9 pm). There are water fountains along the trail every 1.5 miles. Total hike will be ~10 miles, 3000' of elevation loss and gain, all on a very good trail with a very constant grade. You'll have shade most of the way back up.

2) Leave Sedona at 4:30 am, drive to the Park (again, breakfast in the car), and then east a few miles along the Rim to the spur road to Grandview Point. Park at the Point, and hike down the Grandview Trail, starting by 7:30. Hike as far as Horseshoe Mesa, an old mining area with great views, and spend the day there. The Mesa is roughly 1/2 way from Rim to River. You can hike out to the northern tip of the Mesa and see the Colorado River still far below you. There are some old ruins to explore, as well. Return the way you came. Bring lots of water - there's none on the trail or on the Mesa. Total hike will be 6-7 miles, ~3000' of loss and gain, on a good but narrow and sometimes steep trail. This hike is harder and hotter, but with better view, than #1. On a cloudy or cool day (unlikely in June), it would be better. On a hot day, the shade and water of garden Creek

3. Leave Sedona at 5:30 am, drive to the main South Rim area (eat snacks in the car en route), park near the top of the Bright Angel Trail (ample parking available), and take the shuttle bus (stops right at the top of the Bright Angel Trail) to Hermits Rest. Start hiking from Hermits Rest about 8:30. Hike down the trail 1.6 miles to the junction with the Dripping Springs Trail (1400 vertical feet below the rim), turn left, and follow the Dripping Springs Trail 1.1 miles to the junction with the Boucher Trail. Continue on the Boucher Trail (to the right at the junction) towards Yuma Point, 2.5 miles further. Yuma Point has stunning views; lunch there, then return the way you came. This hike is quite flat after the first 1.6 miles, and because most of it only 1400' below the rim, it will be cooler than the other two. Great views, very little shade, on a pretty good but sometimes narrow trail, with huge dropoffs not far away for most of the hike. Much less heavily used than the first two hikes. From the Dripping Springs/Boucher trail junction, you can also go gently uphill on the SDrippings Springs trail for ~ 1/2 mile to the springs themselves. They're not scenically impressive, and in June may be running little if at all. Plan to carry all your water for the whole day on this trip. Total hike: 10-11 miles, ~1500' of loss and gain.

4. There are miles of trails along the South Rim. Get a map from the rangers, and just go. Shoshone Point is about a mile from the closest parking, usually pretty devoid of other people, and has great views. Other points along the Rim can be accessed with much shorter walks. Temperatures are much cooler on the rim, if it's just too hot to go lower.

For all of these hikes, an alternative is to stay closer to the Rim the night before, either campiong in the National Forest just south of Grand Canyon, or in a motel in Tusayan 7 miles south of the Rim, or in the Park itself at Grand Canyon Village. That will let you either get up later, or start hiking earlier, or both.

Bring water, hats, sunscreen, and snack food to dole out to your kind on the hike up (does wonders for morale; works for grownups too).

Have fun. The Canyon is truly spectacular, never more than when you're inside it rather than just on the Rim.

Do NOT hike into the Grand Canyon with your son! Hiking down into the Grand Canyon is very serious business, and sadly many people do not know this. People die there multiple times each year--no joke. The hiking itself is extremely difficult even for very experienced hikers, not to mention in summertime when it gets hot (100+) and is very dry. Mule trips exist but are booked long in advance (and are not all that enjoyable); ditto for Phantom Ranch, the only accomodations at the bottom. You hike in without reservations, and rangers will force you to hike out right then and there (which is the last thing you will want to do, believe me). With your kid, stick to the rim. (Also note: Sedona is a long drive away, Flagstaff is a better jumping-off point with MUCH cheaper motels.) travelwriter33

It was interesting to read the many informed responses about hiking into the Grand Canyon. I just wanted to recommend a very interesting (but sad) book that we bought while we were at the GC called, 'Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon.' It is a history of all the known deaths in the Grand Canyon and it is very sobering, educational and yes, somewhat entertaining! Don't be discouraged about going, but heed the warnings, stay on the 'right' side of the fences, be informed and be responsible for yourself and use common sense! There is a companion book about Yosemite with a similar name and I'll tell you, you'd be surprised how many people meet their maker as they pose for a photograph near the edge or discount a warning sign! safe vacation lover

To be honest - Stay in Sedona and hike and hike all you want. It is gorgeous there, there are places where there is water to play in and the hiking is spectacular and much more appropriate for a 9 yr old. First it is pretty far from Sedona to the Canyon. IT takes longer than you think to hike in, you have to pack all your water (you can refill at the bottom), very very few folks hike in and out the same day. In fact most folks do alternative methods out (helicopter, etc.) and most highly seasoned hikers will not do a round trip in a day. And actually, the canyon is gorgeous, but I really think Sedona is much prettier and so much more accessible. Everywhere you look and walk is incredible. There is a variety of hikes. Drive to the canyon and look in and then go back to Sedona. been to both

Phoenix to Grand Canyon around New Year's Eve

Sept 2009

We've booked plane tix to see the Grand Canyon in late Dec/early Jan with our 3&5yos. Yes, we realize it can be rather cold in AZ around that time, we'll dress appropriately. We're looking for in- and out-door adventures to consider for our family between Phoenix and GC. We'll be in the area for 4 full days sandwiched by 2 half days. We considered ''The Polar Express'' and a day train to the GC, but after reading the reviews on tripadvisor have decided not. Our kids are happy hikers and in moderate temps will easily do a mile or more; longer is depending on stops/interests along the way. We're happy to carry them for some too. We're not looking for themeparks or shopping, other other pricey man made pursuits... anyone have ideas for us? adventuring

There are great things in Phoenix/Tucson. One of my favorite places is the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Gives you a good sense of the Native American culture in the area. Tucson also has an interesting desert landscape museum of some sort (name escapes me). In both places you can probably find some good native Am. crafts stores. Phoenix/Tucson weather can be very pleasant at that time, and GC can be downright cold. On the way, you might want to stop in Sedona. There are some nice hikes along oak ck. canyon and other locations, and the weather can be chilly but isn't usually bone-chilling. If you're really adventurous you can try camping out, but there are plenty of hotels in the area also (book ahead-it can be very busy; also, there are lots of ''new agey'' types who will probalby flock there for nye, since there's a ''vortex'' spot nearby).

Grand Canyon activities with 8 year old?

June 2007

A professional conference and a family reunion will cause us to drive by the Grand Canyon this July. Since we've never been, I'm researching possible ways to visit and see it. The options are overwhelming! I don't want to spend more than a couple of days, don't think our 8-year-old is probably up to hiking all the way down (and I'm not so sure about us parents, to be honest), and don't want to spend many hundreds of dollars per person. But I am willing to splurge a bit for something memorable. The mule ride sounded interesting, but it sells out 9 months in advance. Any recommendations? burr

Hi there, We just drove through the Grand Canyon on our way home from Tucson. My kids are a bit younger (3&5). We just walked along the south rim, got an ice cream, watched the sunset and stayed over in a hotel in the park. Then we headed out - so it was a quick trip for us but frankly, with young kids, there is not a lot to do. They have to be 4'7'' tall to ride the mules!

What I would do if/when we go again is stay in Williams and take the steam train to the Grand Canyon for the day. It would make the day much more exciting and fun for the kids (my son would LOVE the train ride) and you would still get to see how beautiful the canyon is. You can also camp in the park and that would have been fun and special for the kids as well.

Something to check into ... Good luck and have fun! Kristie

Grand Canyon River Rafting, girls only

March 2006

Planning a girls only trip and need some advice/recommendations. Any rafting companies recommended? Specific guides? Time of the year to go? Minimum/maximum number of days to spend? Any advice on logistics? Any other advice that I haven't thought to ask? Thanks for your responses in advance!!! Celebrating Our Milestone Birthdays

Check out for their great Grand Canyon river trips. A group of us went on the 6 day last summer and had the time of our lives. It was the best trip we ever took (and we've all traveled a lot). Go for the 6 day, not the 3 day (too mild, end of the trip for guides, not as scenic). They were a top notch outfit - fantastic guides, great food, big safe yet awesome raft, cots to sleep on, perfect in every way! Would go again!

You may have your heart set on the Grand Canyon and I certainly wouldn't blame you. I wanted to throw out a recommendation anyway. In Stanley, Idaho there is a company called Rapid Transit. They run trips (I think 7 days or so) down the Middle Fork of the Salmon river. I have done this trip twice with friends and it is truly one of the most beautiful remote places I have ever seen. (I have done a lot of hiking around the Grand Canyon and it's great as well). I would at least check it out. The guides are wonderful, usually play guitar, set up tents and cots for you and cook gourmet dinners. This is one of those undiscovered things. I believe the Grand Canyon trips run anywhere from 7 days to 3 weeks. Kim

Rafting on the Grand Canyon's Colorado River

Sept 2005

Hi - My husband has decided that he'd like to celebrate his 50th birthday next year with a family raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Now we just need a great company to raft with, and would appreciate any recommendations, cautionary tales, or advice about specific companies, times of year to go, other relevant advice. Our kids will be 10 and 12 and are good swimmers and hearty campers. I think one week would be better than two, which seems one week too long. The website has recommendations for California and Oregon trips but not Arizona's Colorado River. Many thanks for your input. D

Good friends of mine just took a 7 day river rafting trip down the Colorado this summer - the same reason - to celebrate #50! They loved it and the company they used, Arizona River Runners. Their web site is Valerie

a few ideas though my trip was 11 years ago so can't remember the name of the company. went in late May, weather was warm enough and there were not the huge crowds of summer tourists, (however Northern Arizona does get cold at night and cold! winters so you might want to research typical May weather to decide.) Otherwise you might try for later summer which would be more crowded but the sun has warmed the river some by then. I had to choose between 5 days or 10 days, though without kids, was very glad I was able to do the 10 days. 7 would be good, as you said one week, but if your choice is 5 or something more, you can really see a lot more, and much more remote parts of the canyon, by going longer (even though the first 5 days are incredible, too.) My trip ended at a place where we got helicopters out and landed on the Utah side (and bus back to the south rim). The shorter trip would end at one of the spots where you can hike out of the canyon. You can probably get a ''dragon'' map of the river at REI (forget the proper name of these) and see where the different stops along the river are. Flagstaff is a cute mountain town with shops, some good restaurants, hiking, etc. if you decide to stay along the way to the G.C. Happy Rafting. Signed: chris

The Grand Canyon is a wonder, and it is a privilege to be there. It is considered ''Mecca'' in the river rafting world - I have been down there three times and consider it to be one of the most life changing experiences of my life.

Because I am a river rafter myself, my trips have been ''private trips'' organized by friends, however I do know of a couple companies that are highly regarded. In order to give you an appropriate recommendation, however, I would need to know what you are looking for. Do you want to travel downriver in an oar raft with guide and a few other people? Or do you want to be on a big motor rig with up to 35-40 other people? Two reputablecompanies that do a very good job are Outdoors Unlimited and Oars, to get you started.

I disagree with you about timeline - in my humble opinion one week would be far, far too short to experience the wonder of the place. If you go on a one week trip, you are going to be in a motor boat, flying past some of the best side hikes and scenery that the world has to offer. When I was down in the canyon, I would often see these folks flying by and think of how much they were missing.

Feel free to contact me - it would be a pleasure to help your family with what could very well be a trip you will all cherish for the rest of your lives. Mary

My best friend just returned from what sounds like an awesome trip. this is what she had to say: Hi - I just returned from a Grand Canyon rafting trip. It was incredible. I went on a two week hybrid trip with AZRA ( I wanted to have the option of paddling, and also the option of lounging around. It was also important to me that there was no motor boat associated with the trip. The two week trip travels approximately 225 miles on the river - and it is awesome. The AZRA guides were knowledgeable, skilled, safe and fun. The oar boats had 5 people (4 guests and 1 guide) and the paddle boat had 7 people (6 guest and 1 guide). Everyday you can just jump on whatever boat with whoever you want to hang out with that day . The weather was perfect. It wasn't too hot during the day and it was very nice in the evening. I think a trip in the middle of summer would be a bit too hot. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks...I think the minimum age for some of the trips is 12 - so you'll have to check that out for the 10 yr old

The one week trip means you only travel half the canyon. If you start at Lee's Ferry (16 miles below the dam) you will hike out at Phantom Ranch - in the Grand Canyon. It is a tough vertical hike (with your pack) and, though beautiful - it is not a mellow way to end a raft trip. You also miss most of the super big rapids. People who were on our trip who left us at Phantom Ranch regretted not doing the entire trip. The alternative is to hike in at Phantom Ranch. 4 people joined our group at Phantom Ranch. They also had a tough time coming down (in fact guides had to hike up and assist them down) - and they had wobbly legs for about two days. I suppose if you go on a motorized trip you can do the entire thing in a week - but it looked like a very different experience. It depends on what the person really wants to do.

We found the people at Rivers and Oceans ( to be very helpful in getting info about all the different outfitters and trip options. They were not helpful as a travel agent. I suggest doing your research through them and then booking a trip directly with the outfitter that is offering the trip.

Have fun. Shahana

Where to stay near the Grand Canyon

Oct 2003

I'll be heading down south for a conference the last week in December with my husband and (then) 11 mo. old son, and we were thinking about extending our trip to drive over to the Grand Canyon after the conference is over. Does anyone have any recommendations for 1) places to stop on the way to the G.C. from San Diego, 2) places to stay in the Grand Canyon area, and 3) places to stop on the way back? (I know this is a big territorial area, really Grand Canyon-related advice is what I need the most!) Thanks so much for any advice! MLA mama

There's a fabulous lodge on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure what it's called but there's only one so I'm sure you can find info on it online. It's much less touristy than the south rim and you can either stay in the lodge itself or in little cabins located all around it. It's the only place to stay at the Grand Canyon as far as I'm concerned. Cameron