The amazing thing about the Grand Canyon is that it really is grand in every sense of the word. It is so much more than a photograph could ever depict and exploring the Grand Canyon with kids makes for an incredible family holiday.
If you’re planning to visit this corner of the country then make sure you tag on a trip to Sedona too. In this post we tell you all about visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, the best of Sedona with kids as well as the best way to get from the Grand Canyon to Sedona.
Guest Post and photos by: Domonique Matthews of The Simple Proof
Disclosure: This post my contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
We began our Grand Canyon family vacation in Scottsdale, AZ. It was Spring Break so we spent the first two days resting and playing at the Scottsdale Kierland which was exactly what we all needed to get on vacation mode quickly.
From Scottsdale we drove north towards the Grand Canyon. We were amazed at how quickly the geography changes once you leave the sprawling Phoenix area. The cacti end, the concrete turns to red rock and you quickly realize how diverse the desert really can be.
On our drive north we stopped in the Verde Valley to stretch our legs and check out Montezuma Castle. The Native American caves are nestled into a limestone cliffside and were built and used by the Sinagua people. There is a short self-guided trail we walked to learn more.
The Grand Canyon with kids
From here we continued on to the Grand Canyon itself. When we arrived, we were all excited to catch our first glimpse of this natural wonder of the world. The Grand Canyon is easily accessed by all ages and abilities. We spent our first day up on the Grand Canyon South Rim. The paths are well paved, vistas all around, park rangers giving talks, happy visitors to take photos, gift shops, nature centre, markets and more.
The shuttle service is really helpful. The shuttles take you from point to point along the South Rim. You only need to park once at the main Visitors Center, then make your way to the different lodges, campsites, and trails via the shuttle service which runs continuously throughout the day and into the night. This is not only an easy way to get around, it practically eliminates traffic surrounding the South Rim.
If you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon then it’s worth noting that the North Rim is open from may 15 to October 15 each year. After October 15, the North Rim is only open for day use until December 1st.
We didn’t get to Grand Canyon East Rim but if you’re travelling with older kids or teens then this is where you should go. This is one of the most difficult areas of the Grand Canyon to access but you’ll see fewer crowds and close-up views of the Grand Canyon.
If you’re looking for ideas on visiting the Grand Canyon West Rim then this is a great post.
The next day we got up early and took the shuttle towards the South Kaibab Trailhead. This is a pretty steep trail with loose dirt and gravel and while it does not have much shade, it has unbeatable views on your quick descent into the canyon. Plan to visit as a day trip and allow lots of time. Remember to bring plenty of water for everyone and pack a lunch. Also be advised that the trails are very dusty and when raining, they will become mud quickly. Bring appropriate shoes and clothes and remember the temperatures can drop quickly in the evenings.
Where to stay in the Grand Canyon with kids
We stayed just outside of the park (about 5miles from the rim). We had been a little disappointed that we missed the boat on making reservations in time to book one of the rooms or cabins at the El Tovar Lodge or The Bright Angel, but it turned out just fine. Lesson learned, book early to stay in the Grand Canyon with kids – earlier than you think especially for a family of 5!
The Grand Hotel in the Grand Canyon village was just what we needed with a comfortable clean room, a restaurant and at a good price. It’s also located very close to the park entrance. We had dinner at the Bright Angel Lodge in the Arizona Room. There were lots of options for everyone and fantastic views of the canyon. There are a few shops in old art galleries and even an ice cream shop.
Sedona with kids
From the Grand Canyon south rim to Sedona it is 114miles, which means you could theoretically visit either destination as a day trip. However, Sedona is so stunning – and the Grand Canyon so impressive – that both merit at least a couple of days. One other option for travelling between the two is on a train ride. The historic Grand Canyon Railroad runs a full-day tour from Sedona or Flagstaff.
We, however, chose to drive and took Hwy 89 south through Oak Creek Canyon. Impressive is the best word for this scenic drive. The canyons, the rock formations and the trees made for one remarkable journey. We stopped at Slide Rock State Park for some fun in the canyon and sliding on rocks into the chilly creek waters.
After an afternoon playing here, we continued on to our hotel in Sedona. If you’re wondering where to stay in Sedona with kids then I can highly recommend the Enchantment Resort. It is one place we have heard about for years and feel fortunate that we were able to experience the beauty of Sedona and Arizona through the looking glass of the Enchantment. It is located within Boynton Canyon, a breathtakingly beautiful part of Sedona.
We were greeted by gracious and helpful employees who showed us around and presented us with our lovely accommodations. From each and every angle a view was to be seen, one as sensational as the next. We swam and hiked together. The girls had a morning at the Camp Coyote while my husband and I took a few minutes to exercise and relax poolside at the Mii Amo spa. My son played on their putting course and played tennis safely navigating himself at the resort on his own.
I can’t recommend taking the kids to the Grand Canyon enough. We have already started plotting our return. We have only just begun to explore this part of the west. Next time we want to see it from the bottom of the canyon. Sedona will forever hold a special place in our hearts. The red rock is one of the most striking and impressive landscapes I’ve ever seen.