The Grand Canyon: A Family Bucket List Destination

It is one of the most studied landscapes in the world, with extensive fossil records, a multitude of geologic features and rich archeological history – yes, I am talking about the Grand Canyon. I have wanted to go ever since learning about it in school, and it was finally time to check this off my bucket list! We visited on Labor Day weekend, which many will tell you is a very crowded time to go. However, with proper planning, you can avoid the crowds altogether… or at least for the majority of the time.

Visiting the Grand Canyon is more than staring at one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders. A Grand Canyon family trip is all about adventure. It’s about the journey, and it’s about stopping to enjoy the desert’s beauty and mystery. The Grand Canyon area is virtually untouched. The area around it feels like you have stepped back in time, there are no skyscrapers or overcrowded roads. Be sure to arrive to the park before 9AM to avoid the lines getting in. I also recommend getting the America the Beautiful National Parks pass for $80, it costs $35 to get into the Grand Canyon itself.

Seeing a sunrise or a sunset is also something to make time for, we opted for a sunset and the colors danced along the canyons (SO pretty!). No matter how much time you spend here (we visited for 3 days), you are sure to experience the awe-inspiring moment every time you look out at the vast canyon. It is simply too beautiful to put into words.

I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about the Grand Canyon or our trip please send me an email!

Accommodations

We stayed at the gorgeous Clear Sky Resorts in Williams, AZ. This was way more than a stay, it was an experience in itself. If you are a fan of camping or glamping (or even if you are not), this is the place for you! Not only do you get to stay in a modern sky dome, but there are activities every day for the whole family. We stayed in the James Bond sky dome, and it was hard not to hum golden eye every single time we walked in!

Each sky dome has a telescope, full bathroom, a retractable ceiling to see the stars, a clear front dome to see outside with blackout curtains when not in use, there was a queen bed downstairs, and a double bed and single bed on the second floor, and an air-condition/heat unit.

The property itself has a playground, huge bounce pillow, bikes, corn hole boards, glow in the dark disk golf, live music, kids craft/activities on select days, and complimentary s’mores by the fire every night. There is amazing stargazing, it is called Clear Sky Resorts for a reason after all. We setup our telescope and were able to get a close up of the moon! There is also a food truck on site that offers delicious breakfast and dinner.

Clear Sky Resorts is located 20 miles from the Grand Canyon, and highly recommend for anyone looking for a unique one-of-a-kind experience!

Adventures

Bright Angel Trail – This is the most popular trail at the Grand Canyon. We went early and were fortunate to only see a handful of people here. This trail will take you to Phantom Ranch, which is the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked a mile into the canyon before turning around, and loved it! The trail is graded and well-maintained. You will come across a lot of mule droppings, as they use this trail as well.

A few things to note: there are some steep drop-offs, so keep your kiddos close. We held our girls hands and kept them on the inside of the trail at all times. The trail has a series of switchbacks that seem endless, with views are framed by massive cliffs. And remember – as far as you go down into the canyon… you have to then hike up. The hike up was obviously way more strenuous, so keep it in mind when thinking of where to turn around.

Grand Canyon Sunset – As I mentioned earlier, a sunset or sunrise while visiting is always a fun idea. We went for sunset to the rim trail at Mather Point. This is just behind the visitor’s center and the most popular viewpoint. It is completely railed, providing peace of mind with the kiddos. We watched sunset here and it was beautiful to watch the colors and shadows transform over the canyon.

Rim Trail – The Rim Trail stretches from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest, a distance of about 13 miles. Most of the trail is paved and flat. This is great for families with small children, as you can bring the stroller. It is also a great intro hike to many great viewpoint along the way.

Can you find us??

Historic Kolb Studio Art and History Exhibits – Just a short walk from the Bright Angel Trail trailhead, the Historic Kolb Studio Art and History Exhibits is a small place that is definitely worth stopping at. It was operated from 1904 until 1976 as the photographic studio of brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb. You can see how they photographed the canyon, it will make your stomach do flips! The history is pretty deep as well, great exhibit.

Junior Ranger Program – I will always recommend people have their children participate in the Junior Ranger programs at national parks, and the Grand Canyon is a great place to earn your badge! Our girls had a great time exploring and filling out there books, and had huge smiles as they were sworn in.

Desert View Drive – The same day we did the Rim Trail, we hopped in the car and drove the Desert View Drive. Private vehicles can drive east along the canyon rim for 23 miles to the East Entrance. Along the way you will see several stops for unmarked viewpoints and six developed canyon viewpoints. Each one will take your breath away, we had a great time driving and seeing wildlife (a lot to elk).

Appetite

Clear Sky Resorts Food Truck – We loved the food truck on site at Clear Sky Resorts. They have delicious food for breakfast and dinner. Order your meal and play ping pong or PAC-MAN in the dining dome! Try the quesadillas and the oh so cheesy pizza – you can thank me later!

Yavapai Tavern – Located inside the Grand Canyon National Park, Yavapai Tavern is a great option for some pub food and craft beer. With indoor/outdoor seating, this is perfect for families after a hike to relax and recharge. Try the elk chili – it is so good I went back the next day for more!

Grand Canyon General Store – If you are shopping here for groceries, you will find it to be overpriced. BUT, if you come here for lunch – it is a great stop! We grabbed some local brews from the fridge and some sandwiches. Sit outside and dine al fresco! There were a few other families eating outside and we were able to chat while the kids played, it was a great stop.

Until next time…

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