Visiting the Grand Canyon With a Baby
Creating Memories for a Lifetime
When most people think of the Grand Canyon they think of beautiful vistas and the awe inspiring backdrop for their posed family photos. When a Mom of small kids thinks of the Grand Canyon all she can see is the unsecured edge of a sheer drop ending in a rocky landscape 150ft down (at a minimum). Panic and anxiety already highlighting the trip not yet taken.
I am here to assure you Mama, you can visit this natural wonder with your small child and also make it through the visit with said child still in tow. My son was just barely over a year old when I visited the park with my family and we had an amazing time. The sunsets are to die for and the hiking paths are very well maintained. Here are some things to consider when planning the trip to the South Rim!
Bring All The Carriers
I brought a total of 3 options to keep my son secure while we explored the Grand Canyon. My Ergobaby for quick carrying moments and for the on and off the tram, which I will go into more detail later. We brought the Osprey hiking backpack for longer times of walking and also the stroller for when no one wanted a large infant attached to them or we were going to be on easy ground. Honestly we could have done the entire trip with just the small foldable stroller and the large metal framed carrier wasn’t entirely necessary but having the different options was nice.
Bike Rental Option
There is also the option to rent bikes with the pull behind carts for children to ride in if you would like to see the park this way. One of our family members wasn’t big on bikes which is the only reason we didn’t do it but it would keep your little one strapped in, safe, and give them something to constantly look at! It could be a great option, especially for families with more than one kid.
Ride the Tram (Red line)
This was the best option to see a lot of the park without having to walk a lot or get in and out of the car. On the second page of this digital pocket map, and all the way to the left of the second page you can see the red tram line. During this part of the trip we used the stroller for some of it and the soft shell baby carrier for the rest which kept him from getting to anxious. Having him safely attached to my back or front while on the tram meant I didn’t have to worry about him wandering around or getting injured in case of a quick stop. He loved looking out the windows as we drove and the new interior with lots of people to look at was also a huge hit. Every corner you turn on the rim of the canyon is different and the views never get old! With the tram option you can chose to stay on and skip stops if you want or you can get off and stretch your legs at every stop. This will mostly depend on how often you want to load and unload the stroller from the tram and how much time you have. We were rushing to catch the sunset at Mohave Point and boy was it worth it!
If you will be staying in the immediate area of the Grand Canyon the elevation causes some pretty dramatic temperature changes. We visited in the middle of June and it was around 90 degrees and sunny during the day with an almost 40 degree temperature drop into the 50’s once the sun went down. This meant that during the day we were in shorts and tank tops, including the baby, but by 6 or 7pm the jeans and sweatshirts were coming out!
Pack All The Snacks
This is most likely a no brainer for anyone but it cant hurt for a little reminder. There is a grocery store and a few other shops in Tusayan (the town outside the park) as well as a McDonalds, but once you get inside the actual park these little shops are harder to find and may not be very convenient for you to get to. So make sure you have plenty of options in the car as well as in your pack whenever you go out exploring!
For us the car ride to the Grand Canyon was about 5 hours which included pulling our camper up 6000 ft in elevation from Phoenix. My son usually sleeps pretty well in the car but with two of us in the back seat with him this seemed to be too much of a distraction for him to handle. So of course he was awake for most of the trip and didn’t fall asleep until we were only about 45 minutes from our destination. Thankfully I had download a few TV shows onto the iPad for him to watch which did a fairly good job. This also came in handy when he was getting antsy from being in the car for a while when we were at the park itself or to keep him busy while we were getting things done around the campsite. Word Party has been a great options for him at his age and they let you download the 15 minute episodes!
Be Flexible and Try to Enjoy It!
As you well know by now, everything is subject to change once you add a kid to the mix. This meant sometimes we ended up just driving around the park while the little guy took a much needed nap in the car seat or we couldn’t stay quite as long at the cool geology museum as I would have liked (I’m kind of a history nerd). However there is still so much to do and almost nothing can ruin the amazing views.