The Grand Canyon: Hiking, Mule Tours, Condors and Whitewater Rafting

September 7, 2007 at 11:01 am 4 comments

Hiking on the Rim or Below the Rim.
Trails around the South rim are relatively flat and easy to walk.California Condors Free shuttles can take you to any point along the trail so you can hike back — or hike out and shuttle back. We hiked both East and West from El Tovar. The West trail (left from El Tovar as you face the canyon) was just a gravel trail, either right along the rim or somewhat away from the edge — how daring are you? The trail East (right from El Tovar as you A mule tour into the canyonface the canyon) was blacktopped for easier walking. In our two days, we probably hiked over 15 miles along the top of the rim — and with every step, we saw a different and even more spectacular view.

More Canyon Options.
The more adventurous and sure-footed folks take the trails down into the canyon, but are requested to discuss theirPhantom Lodge at the bottom of Grand Canyon — accessible by foot or mule.
plans with the main trail office. (They want to help visitors avoid getting lost.) Mule tours are also available and those mules looked pretty sturdy. Various tour and guide services are also available. The Park Service maintains 7 resorts there including El Tovar. Here’s a photo of Phantom Lodge at the very bottom the canyon — accessible only by foot or mule.

International Visitors at the Canyon.
Wherever we went, we ran into folks from around the world, almost like you do at Disney World. We truly have an outstanding natural wonder that everyone seems to enjoy.

1) Map of South Rim.
Print up this map for a good overview of what you’ll find at the South Rim. There’s also a good trip planner you can print.

2) California Condors. These extremely rare birds are a One of the rare California Condors in flight.treat to watch as they fly overhead at the South Rim. Their wingspan is close to 10 feet. They were near extinction and now 60 call Arizona home. They seem to like watching the park visitors as much as we liked watching them. Many were always in view near the El Tovar resort area.

3) History, Culture, Geology. While every view is spectacular, you may also enjoy learning that the Grand Canyon is all about ancient Indian cultures, geologic formations, ancient seas, unique flora and fauna andHopi House near El Tovar. exceptional archeological finds. Knowing just a bit about these things helps you appreciate the Grand Canyon even more.
5) River Trips. A variety of river rafting trips are also available.
6) Mule Trips and Horseback Rides. Single-day and overnight mule trips can be booked well in advance through Xanterra. Trail rides on horses are available from a private stable.

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Entry filed under: Grand Canyon, Phoenix.

El Tovar Resort at the Grand Canyon A Day of Fine Art in Kansas City

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gcmaven  |  September 10, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    “Hiking on the Rim or Below the Rim. The West trail (left from El Tovar as you face the canyon) was just a gravel trail, either right along the rim or somewhat away from the edge. ”
    Sounds like you’re talking about the rim trail. But if so, when did you take this trip? It had to be years ago (you’ve dated this story Sep 2007). The rim trail has been paved all the way from Pipe Creek Vista on the East Rim to Maricopa Point on the West Rim, well west of El Tovar for years. Or by saying gravel trail did you mean the Bright Angel Trail that goes down into the canyon, 9+miles to the bottom instead of the trail that heads west and east from behind El Tovar?

    “The Park Service maintains 7 resorts there including El Tovar” The park service doesn’t maintain any of the hotels and lodges (there are no resorts) here. They are operated and maintained by Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C.

    “Here’s a photo of Phantom Lodge at the very bottom the canyon” The place is called Phantom Ranch, not Phantom Lodge.

    “6) Mule Trips and Horseback Rides. …Trail rides on horses are available from a private stable” There are trail rides on horseback through the national forest, outside of the national park boundaries.

  • 2. tish  |  September 11, 2007 at 10:13 am

    gcmaven —

    Thanks for your insight and corrections. We were there in mid-June this year. The trail I took along the rim was absolutely not paved. It was gravel and at times very close to the edge and rocky. (When we felt it was too rocky close to the rim, we could easily move a bit away from the edge and walk along the blacktopped road instead, but could still see the canyon.) The trail going the other way from El Tovar was paved right alongside the rim — it was distinctly different for walking and more suitable for people who don’t feel surefooted. That was our experience. We did not descend into the canyon itself.

  • 3. Tobey Cockrell  |  October 22, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    i was wondering if it is posibble to rent a mule ride to the bottom, and camp over-night in a tent. I dont know anything about rules and regulations in the park.

  • 4. las vegas tours  |  July 2, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Payson Arizona offers some of the most challenging hiking in the area. Hiking the Mescal Ridge Trail is a one day excursion, not for the average hiker. This physically demanding trail leads outdoor fanatics across the peaceful Tonto Creek and up a trail that climbs over a thousand feet to the top of the world famous Mescal Ridge.


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