While it is typical for visitors to Grand Canyon to be bowled over by the sheer immensity, colorful layers, and mesmerizing qualities of one of the world’s greatest destinations, 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 up these 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.”
These are seven ways to make a Grand Canyon vacation even better.
Ride the Rails During Your Grand Canyon Vacation
A train opened up Grand Canyon to the world, and that train is still making daily roundtrip runs between Williams, Ariz. and Grand Canyon Village. Grand Canyon Railway is headquartered some 65 miles south to the historic Grand Canyon Depot. Vacationers taking Grand Canyon Railway depart at 9:30 a.m. and arrive at the South Rim just before noon. Some travelers opt to spend a few hours in the park before the return trip at 3:30 p.m. while many check in to a hotel for a night or two.
For more information visit www.thetrain.com.
Ride the Rim at the Grand Canyon
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 four-mile, three-hour mule ride includes an interpretive van ride from the historic Grand Canyon Village Mule Barn to the Yaki Mule Barn five 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 geologic formations, human history, fire ecology and more.
The interpretive mule ride is offered up to two times each day for rides for up to 20 riders per departure. From March 15 through Oct. 31 the Mule Ride departs at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and from Nov. 1 through March 14 the ride departs once each day at 9:30 a.m.
Motorcoach Tours at the Grand Canyon
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. Tours are conducted in comfortable, air-conditioned motor coaches that allow travelers to sit back and relax while taking in the scenery.
Stop and Shop at the Hopi House
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 American 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. In addition to selling jewelry, pottery, rugs and more, the Hopi House now contains interpretive displays depicting the work of famed architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s work, a display marking the door to “Nampeyo’s Apartment” that showcases the important role American Indian artists played in the development of tourism in the Southwest and the Hopi Door standing only four feet high leading into the Hopi House’s “Altar Room.”
Relax and Eat During Your Grand Canyon Vacation
If all of that activity has made you hungry, there are several options. El Tovar Dining Room is open for all three meals and is the most upscale choice. Originally staffed by the famed Harvey Girls, the dining room features murals by American Indian artist Bruce Timeche and has hosted presidents and various dignitaries through the years. Legend has it that President Theodore Roosevelt dined in a private room near the front door of the restaurants, but historians claim there is no documentation to support the story and that Roosevelt typically wanted to be in the center of the action.
Dinner reservations at El Tovar are required most of the year, but breakfast is a favorite of the locals. The Arizona Room is known for its steaks and regional choices while the Bright Angel Restaurant is family-friendly. Maswik Lodge offers a food court as well as a Pizza Pub. Grand Canyon Lodges offers local and sustainable cuisine and beverages whenever possible.
Nibble on an Ice Cream Cone
The Bright Angel Fountain in the Bright Angel Lodge has been serving scoops for decades. Built as a classic soda shop in 1955, the Fountain retains the yesteryear charm while serving some amazingly good ice cream. Nearly 165,000 scoops of it annually, in fact. Grand Canyon National Park Lodges sources its ice cream from Dreyer’s Ice Cream and its cones from Joy Cones in nearby Flagstaff.
Do It All During Your Grand Canyon Vacation
Grand Canyon National Park Lodges’ sister company, Austin Adventures, offers a guided six-day, five-night Grand Canyon Family Adventure. Developed for small, intimate groups, the trip includes a ride aboard the Grand Canyon Railway, interpretive park experiences, lodging and more. The trip also includes stops at classic Arizona destinations like Phoenix and Sedona.
Book Your Vacation
Visitors can book their rooms online by visiting www.grandcanyonlodges.com or by calling toll-free 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 from outside the United States.
More information about Grand Canyon National Park can be obtained at www.nps.gov/grca or 1-928-638-7888.
Note: This article was published as a courtesy to Grand Canyon Lodges and Xanterra.