One Day Itinerary in Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is on just about everyone’s bucket list! This was the catalyst to our epic Southwest road trip. This was the first stop we planned and definitely one of the most memorable!
My first and biggest tip for Grand Canyon National Park is to stay in Grand Canyon Village. The park is simply huge and if you stay outside, not inly will you miss the spectacular sunrises, but you will spend time driving in and out of the park. If you are only there for a short period, staying in the village is definitely worth it! Hotels inside the village range in price from splurge-worthy to bargain, so there’s something for every budget. Just book as early as possible to ensure you get a room!
We arrived at Yavapai Lodge at night after checking into our mule ride for the next morning. Our day in the Grand Canyon started early and ended late — but it was an amazing one! Here’s our must-do’s for a day at Grand Canyon National Park!
  1. Mule Ride

    This is definitely a splurge – a mule ride is not cheap. But 150% worth every penny! The trail ride down into the canyon with an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch is tricky to secure – this books up over a year in advance and starting in 2019 will only be available on a lottery system. But the Canyon Vista Mule ride is perfect for kids!The Canyon Vista Mule ride is a 4-mile ride that has you in the saddle for about 3 hours total (which is plenty long for smaller kids!) along the new East Rim Trail that was built by the National Park Service. While you are on the edge of the trail, you generally have a few feet between you and the drop, so it’s a little less nerve-wracking! Two things to know: First, safety is the #1 concern for a mule ride. Height, weight, age limits and dress codes are STRICTLY enforced. Make sure your children qualify before they arrive with their hearts set on a ride!  Second, while you are not right along the rim, you are up high on a mule and really close to the edge, so if you are afraid of heights, you may want to skip this!
  2. Rim Trail.

    Although it is a fairly long hike, it’s very low impact since the trail has a minimal elevation level the entire way through. For those who wish to bike the trail or who have little ones in strollers, the trail is ideally suited because it’s paved almost entirely throughout, making it easy to navigate.
    While it’s an easy hike in terms of terrain, there aren’t many places to stop for food or water along the trail, so, definitely bring snacks and plenty of water for the hike. I’d also advise traveling either in the early morning before heat kicks in or go during the late afternoon when it’s cooler and the trail is shadier.
  3. Lunch at Bright Angel Lodge.

    History buffs can’t help but love the Bright Angel Lodge. It has been around since 1935 and is considered to be a National Historic Landmark. It started out as a hotel, then transitioned into a camp before finally becoming a lodge. These days the lodge is home to 90 cabins, a family friendly dining options and is a known historical train station, which the kids thought was super interesting.
    We weren’t able to snag a room here, but just eating at the Harvey House Cafe inside the lodge is a treat! The restaurant is casual and comfortable with classic food your kids will eat – but you’ll appreciate the historical significance as you enjoy vintage diner food!
  4. Bright Angel Trail.

    The Bright Angel Trail is a dirt based trail that goes into the canyon – this is probably the trail you picture when you think of hiking the Grand Canyon! I wouldn’t recommend for little ones as the incline is rather steep and there are no guard rails along the dramatic drop-offs. But for children who are 10+, the trail should be manageable. It is recommended that you give uphill hikers the right away while on the trail and to choose the time of your hike wisely due to the heat as well as lack of shade at different points of the day.  We were there is April (as you can see by how bundled up I am!) so we were able to do the hike after lunch with no problem. We made it a mile down before we decided to hike up so we could make it to the sunset.
  5. Sunset at Yavapai Point.

    Located in close proximity to the South Rim visitor center, Yavapai Point is a wonderful vantage point for some of the most amazing views of the Grand Canyon and surrounding sights such as the Colorado River, and Bright Angel Canyon. You can also view the Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel and North Kaibab Trails from your perch at Yavapai Point.
    Get there early! Parking is very limited and the good vantage spots get crowded long before sunset.
When visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, there is an endless list of things to experience and places to explore. We only had one full day and two nights – but we could have easily spent a week and still had more to see! My list only covers a handful of the exciting things available for visitors to enjoy but trust me when I say, there’s something for the entire family to enjoy during the trip of a lifetime at the Grand Canyon!
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About Melissa

Written by Melissa Angert, editor of this fashion blog and author of Girlymama. You can also find her on Twitter as Melissa Angert. She is a mom of 3 living in Providence.