As part of a larger Arizona/Utah trip, we had the opportunity to add the southern rim of the Grand Canyon to our itinerary. We are so glad we were able to fit it in and even scored a room on the rim.

A few points about our trip:

  1. August. Yikes. We knew what we were getting into but we had to be sure to prepare adequately. You’ll find the prep for this throughout the guide but in summary, I would definitely do it again.

  2. The haze. As much as you try to plan and simplify a trip ahead of time, there are always factors that you can’t control. For this trip, the haze from several California fires had moved into Arizona and Utah and for a few days had a big impact on visibility. It didn’t keep us from hiking but did change the experience of some of the notable beauty of certain locations.

  3. A piece of a big trip. This guide is really helpful if you are adding in the Grand Canyon into a larger trip. If this would have been the primary location for our trip and we would have had multiple days, we would have approached it differently.


Timeframe: 24hrs

Trip Type: Selective

With such a short timeframe, we knew we would have to be selective on what we could do and what would have to wait for a future trip.


Required: Car (4WD/AWD not required)
Optional: Plane

There is no way around needing a car to visit the Grand Canyon. So if you fly, you will need to factor in a rental car.

The three closest places to fly into are Phoenix (3hr 29m), Las Vegas (4hr 8m) and Flagstaff (1hr 28).

There is a shuttle once you are in the park. We didn’t get to try it this trip due to timing but would definitely utilize it for future trips so we wouldn’t have to worry about -, especially during peak season.


Packing for the Grand Canyon will vary based on the time of year that you visit and how far down you plan to go into the canyon. We visited in August and needed to be prepared for excessive heat.

A good friend of ours always says, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” While we do think there is some weather that can put a damper on a good adventure, having the right gear makes the chance pretty small.

Check out our Warm Weather Guide <link> to see what all we recommend you should bring specific to the weather. In general, here are the primary items you should make sure to bring:

  • Hike boots/shoes: If you plan to go on any trail that leads you into the canyon, every family member should have proper footgear. With gravel trails that include elevation changes and sharp drop-offs, shoes that have good traction are a key safety feature.

  • Hats: We do simple ball caps style hats because they’re easier to wear but they do leave the back of your neck exposed so it could be worth considering a large brim hat. Check out Casey’s favorite:

  • Backpacks + water bladder: We do believe every person should carry their own backpack but we don’t always insist on the water bladders. There are times we use a lightweight water bottle to just keep things easy. However, during any hikes with warm enough weather to make you sweat more than just from movement, we highly recommend bladders. Everyone needs to be able to get a constant flow of water without having to stop and take out water bottles.

  • No Cotton: For anything that touches your skin, make sure it does not include any cotton. It’s the worst. Don’t forget to check the under garments and socks. Cotton does not dry quickly and can irritate the skin. Select clothes that are breathable and will dry quickly.

  • Sunscreen: All the sunscreen. We specifically like a good spray face sunscreen so we can reapply often and quickly even if our hands are dirty.

  • Collapsible hiking sticks: These are more of a nice to have and are questionable with kids.


When you plan to enter the park should be considered. Early morning and later in the day are ideal to avoid the lines. In 2017, my sister and eye did a quick half day visit. When we were leaving the park around noon, the line of cars was over 2 miles.

You can find park maps and other guides here.


So much to be aware of here. From the elk and her baby camped out in front of our lodge as we tried to bring in our luggage after dark to the bold, pesky squirrels that were too interested in our snack breaks. Respect them. This is their territory. They will most likely win any altercation (just ask Channing about her Zion experience, ha).



Eating in the national parks can always be an adventure on its own. For this trip we only ate one dinner and had already stocked up on lunch and snack items in Phoenix. We did eat dinner at Fred Harvey Burger in Bright Angel Lodge. The food was okay and of course on the higher end. For a comprehensive list of dining and marketplace options, visit the NPS page. A couple of tips:

  1. Make reservations for any sit down dining options you would like to do, especially during peak season. Peak season reservations kind of feel like you're planning a trip to Disney.

  2. Most restaurants, like Fred Harvey Burger, don’t actually have an outside view so if you want to see the sunset on the rim, we recommend making reservations for after sunset.

  3. Double check the hours. On the rim by Bright Angel and the village, there are no coffee or breakfast options open before 8am so if you plan to get out early, be prepared to have your own breakfast and caffeine options ready to go. The only place that appears to have coffee before 8am is Yavapai Lodge Coffee Shop at 7am.


Kid Score: 3

Parent Score:

Full trip distance: 3.8

Total elevation gain: 1,184 ft

Elevation intensity: 1 ft up for every 8.5 ft forward

Time: 2 hrs

This is a great trail to start your day, especially if you’re staying at one of the lodges by the rim since it is within walking distance. We started out around 8am which meant we were some of the first ones out and crowds weren’t bad. This is an out and back trail. The full Bright Angels trail actually goes all the way to the bottom so you will pass several backpackers coming out. At this point, they are exhausted so make sure your kids are following trail etiquette and stepping out of the way when necessary.

Elevation when you decide to go into the canyon is something to keep in mind in general, but especially with kids. Going down is generally easy from an exertion standpoint but with that comes a false sense of security as they try going too quickly and lose their footing pretty easily. On the other hand, for as easy going down is, they will use all their energy trying to make it back up. I say this as a consideration, not something that should keep you from doing it. Children are balls of energy and are so capable. Take it slow, don’t point out the hard road ahead and keep it fun.

The 1.5 Mile Resthouse is a good perk of this hike. They have bathrooms. As much as we push hydration, lack of bathrooms tends to be the unintended consequence. This is a great place to fill up water bottles/bladders and get a good protein snack before making the trek upward.

Kid Score: 4

Parent Score:

Full trip distance: 1.8

Total elevation gain: 685 ft

Elevation intensity: 1 ft up for every 7 ft forward

Time: 1 hr

We did this trail after hiking to 1.5 mile resthouse. You could take the bus system to this location but since this was a quick trip for us, we checked out of the lodge and drove on E Rim Dr. The parking lot at the trailhead was closed when we were there so we had to park in a lot off of E Rim Dr. just past Yaki Point Dr. Shortly after crossing the street you are able to pop on to the Rim Trail that will get you to the South Kiabab Trailhead. There are restrooms here and it has some great view points to enjoy your lunch in the shade.

With us being here in August, it was good that we did this shorter hike second and got the longer one knocked out before it got too hot. You are fully in the sun and while we had sunscreen and the kids had sun shirts on, the sun was intense. We also fully refilled our water bladders plus added ice (before we checked out of the hotel).

The reward at the end is an amazing lookout called Ooh Aah Point. This is the perk to this trail over 1.5 mile Resthouse. Take some great pictures before starting back up those switchbacks.

Kid Score: 2

Parent Score:

Full trip distance: 12.7 but fully customizable

Total elevation gain: N/A

Elevation intensity: N/A

Time: Customizable

The Rim Trail is an easy hitter and you will find yourself on it more times than not as you explore the Grand Canyon Village. It is a long, paved trail that just follows the rim. Just head to rim and start at any point. It is great for strollers and generally has some good railing along it to ease some anxiety. The beautiful part about this easy trail is that around every corner you feel like you're getting a completely different view of the canyon. While there are some notable locations for sunrise and sunset, you can still get good views from this trail as well, just find a bend in the right direction.

One downfall to this trail could be the crowds. Since it is so accessible, this is the main trail that all visitors go to. When my sister and I went in December, it was packed but we still enjoyed it and were able to get some good views. When we went on this trip in August, it was not packed due to the heat.

I will note that the kids did not give this trail a high score. They found it "boring" and didn't like that it was paved. Apparently paved trails to them do not meet their hiking expectations. However, when we were there, the haze from the 2021 California wildfires had moved in and muted the view a good bit and honestly made it less impressive. I was there in 2017 with my sister and the colors were unbelievable. I believe had they seen it in its non-hazy form, they would have rated it differently.