While it is typical for groups that visit the Grand Canyon to be bowled over by the sheer immensity, colorful layers and mesmerizing qualities, the second reaction is often to seek out activities.
As the primary operator of accommodations, restaurants, gift stores and activities for more than a century, Grand Canyon National Park Lodges offers seven ways to make a visit even more special.
“There’s a reason the Grand Canyon makes the ‘must-visit’ list of travelers around the world,” said Bruce Brossman, regional director of sales and marketing for Grand Canyon National Park Lodges. “While there’s nothing needed to enhance the unparalleled beauty of the Grand Canyon, there are plenty of things visitors can do to make the overall experience even more memorable.”
1. Ride the rails
Photo: Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Grand Canyon Railway, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
A train opened up Grand Canyon to the world, and that train is still making daily roundtrip runs between Williams and Grand Canyon Village. Grand Canyon Railway is headquartered some 65 miles south of the historic Grand Canyon Depot. Passengers taking Grand Canyon Railway arrive at the South Rim just before noon. Some travelers opt to spend a few hours in the park before the return trip, while many check in to a hotel for a night or two.
2. Ride the rim
Although visitors have ridden the Grand Canyon’s famous mules into the canyon since the late 1800s, it is only within the past few years that a rim ride has been available. The interpretive Canyon Vistas Mule Ride was an instant hit when introduced in 2013. The 4-mile, three-hour mule ride includes an interpretive van ride from the historic Grand Canyon Village Mule Barn to the Yaki Mule Barn, 5 miles to the east. The mule riders spend two hours in the saddle, riding along an East Rim Trail built by the National Park Service for the rides. Wranglers stop along the trail to provide interpretive information about the area including geologic formations, human history and fire ecology.
The interpretive mule ride is offered up to two times each day for up to 20 riders per departure. From March 15 through Oct. 31, the Mule Ride departs twice a day, and from Nov. 1 through March 14, the ride departs once each day.
3. Experience by motorcoach
One of the most popular ways to view and learn about the Canyon is on a motorcoach tour with drivers who are well-trained and entertaining. Tours include a two-hour tour to Hermit’s Rest along the West Rim; a three-hour, 45-minute tour to the Watchtower along the East Rim; and 90-minute Sunrise and Sunset tours. All tours include extensive interpretive information offered by drivers and stops at scenic points along the way.
4. Stop and shop at Hopi House
Photo: Grand Canyon National Park
Hopi House, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
Since it opened in 1905, the Hopi House has been much more than a retail operation. The building has played a significant role in educating travelers about the culture, traditions and artistic contributions of the native residents of the region. For many years, the Hopi House housed American Indian artists who introduced their works to tourists from around the world.
To this day, the Hopi House is renowned for offering American Indian products that visitors know are authentic and sold at competitive prices.
5. Relax and enjoy a bite to eat
There are several dining options. El Tovar Dining Room is open for all three meals and is the most upscale option.
Dinner reservations at El Tovar are required most of the year; breakfast is a favorite of the locals. The Arizona Room is known for its steaks and regional choices, while the Bright Angel Restaurant is more casual. Maswik Lodge offers a food court and a Pizza Pub. Grand Canyon Lodges offers local and sustainable cuisine and beverages whenever possible.
6. Or an ice cream cone
Photo: Grand Canyon National Park
Bright Angel Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
The Bright Angel Fountain in the Bright Angel Lodge has been serving scoops for decades.
7. Do it all
Grand Canyon National Park Lodges’ sister company, Austin Adventures, offers a guided six-day, five-night Grand Canyon Family Adventure. Developed for smaller groups, the trip includes a ride aboard the Grand Canyon Railway, interpretive park experiences and lodging. The trip also includes stops at classic Arizona destinations like Phoenix and Sedona.
For more information, contact Grand Canyon National Park Lodges at 888-297-2757, or visit grandcanyonlodges.com.
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