Visiting the Grand Canyon with kids, on your own or in the company of other adults is an awe-inspiring experience that everyone should try to schedule at some point in life. Grand Canyon National Park is about so much more than just gazing at the canyon’s landmarks. From your first walk through the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to your exit through the park’s gates, the park is full of attractions and activities to create lifelong memories.
The Grand Canyon’s remote location, high elevation and desert climate can cause issues that may not exist in another environment. Educating yourself on Grand Canyon safety tips before traveling can help you arrive prepared for whatever the canyon delivers. Review the following sections to get additional resources related to safe travel to the Grand Canyon for families and adventure-seekers.
Traveling with Kids and Youth
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is a good place to start your Grand Canyon adventure. While there, you can rent a stroller, grab a snack or water bottles and find out what the park rangers have in store for visitors that day. Storytelling, history walks and talks are just some of the options that frequently appear on the park’s daily schedule of events.
Visitors who come to the Grand Canyon with kids should check into the special children’s program offered by the park’s rangers. Participants can sign up every day of the year for the Grand Canyon Junior Ranger Program. This program is available at hundreds of national parks across the United States.
At the Grand Canyon, kids can participate in qualifying activities in pursuit of a Junior Ranger badge and certificate. Teenagers, adults and even grandparents are invited to participate in this program, too. Serious young rangers can set a goal of achieving each of the badges offered at Grand Canyon National Park. These include the following:
- South Rim badge
- Phantom Ranch badge
- North Rim badge
Activities for families touring the Grand Canyon with kids or teenagers cover a wide range of interests. Naturally, hiking is a popular activity for park guests of all ages and abilities. There are trails to suit every type of hiker, from the most physically fit and well-trained individuals to those viewing the canyon from a wheelchair. One of the easiest trails is paved and includes over a dozen bus stops for the park’s excellent shuttle bus system.
Keep in mind that when visiting the Grand Canyon with kids, signing up for a tour can be one of the best ways to make sure you include all of the area’s must-see destinations. There are multiple tour opportunities within Grand Canyon National Park, including helicopter and airplane tours over the canyon. Other tour guides offer trips by bus or Jeep that stop at key attractions. Horse and mule rides are available down into the canyon, and some tour companies specialize in family-friendly rafting tours along the Colorado River.
Grand Canyon Safety Issues
Whether you are visiting the Grand Canyon with children, a group of friends or your significant other, safety should be your top priority. This is especially true if you live in another climate and are not familiar with the challenges of daily life in a desert environment. If you are traveling alone, Grand Canyon safety practices can be a matter of life and death.
Every year, the Grand Canyon National Park Service records hundreds of emergency incidents. Some of these are medical emergencies directly related to overexertion in the harsh desert climate. Hundreds of other incidents involve search and rescue missions to help people who have become lost or stranded within the national park. Sadly, some people are never found, and the park also records a number of fatalities each year from falls and other accidents.
You can avoid some of these situations by learning about Grand Canyon safety recommendations and being prepared for certain serious situations. For example, heat stroke and dehydration are a serious problem in desert climates. Therefore, every person driving on the remote roadways to Grand Canyon National Park should carry certain supplies in their vehicle, including a gallon of water for each passenger. Every hiker in the park needs a refillable water bottle and should fill it up at every opportunity.
Because cell phone service can be unpredictable in the park, park rangers suggest purchasing a certain type of emergency location device.
If you plan to go on a hike, you should take note of the hike smart tips. One of the most important tips is to remember that every hike to the canyon floor consists of two parts:
- The hike down
- The hike back up
Since walking downhill is significantly easier than walking uphill, hikers may encounter the most problems when they are trying to make their way back up to the rim.
In the summer months, lightning can pose a serious safety risk due to the frequency of heavy thunderstorms.
High altitude sickness is another risk for visitors to the Grand Canyon. This uncomfortable disorder results from the body trying to adjust to lower oxygen levels at higher elevations. It can affect some people more severely than others, while other people never experience it at all.
You can reach Grand Canyon emergency services by calling 911, as in other parts of the United States. Visitors in need of assistance can rest assured that the park’s first responders are well-trained in how to handle the unique situations that arise within Grand Canyon National Park.