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10 Activities For Kids At Grand Canyon South Rim


Searching for a great place to spend you family holiday? Try the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This National Park is packed with many different physical and educational activities that will appeal to kids of all ages. Here's a list of ten activities to get your planning "juices" started:

Ranger Programs - Rangers are trained naturalists who love to share their know-how about the Canyon. Topics range from the California Condor restoration program and geology to fossils and astronomy. The Junior Ranger program is specifically made for kids, and includes adventure hikes, field classes (teaches using binoculars, field guides, and other tools or a naturalist), and games determined by local ecology. Kids can get sworn in as Junior Grand Canyon National Park Rangers once they complete the program.

Museums - The Canyon View Information Center, near Mather Point, provides numerous outdoor exhibits about the Park. Inside, Rangers man the information desk and are happy to help you decide what you want to do when you arrive. The Center also houses a number of interpretive exhibits. Similar in purpose is Verkamp's Visitor Center, located east of the El Tovar Hotel. Built in 1906, this building started out as a gift shop, but was converted into a visitor center and features some excellent pioneer history exhibits. Learn how the Canyon was formed and how old it is at the Yavapai Observation Center's Museum of Geology. The Center's Canyon-facing wall is all glass and provides intense views of the Gorge. Kolb Studio, built on the edge of the Canyon's rim in 1905, hosts free art exhibits and houses a huge early 20th-century movie camera used by the Kolb brothers.

Take a Ride on the Free Shuttle - The Park has an excellent transportation system that's free to all visitors. It stops at the most famous South Rim landmarks (Mather Point, Hermit's Rest, Yaki Point) and trailheads (Bright Angel and South Kaibab). It's comprised of three loops: The Village Route (blue); Hermit's Rest (red); and Kaibab Trail (green).

Day Hikes - There are many great hikes for kids. Bright Angel Trail is located next to Kolb Studio in Grand Canyon Village. The well-maintained trail is a delightful stroll down. It's the hike up via steep switchbacks that will determine how far you will go (consider taking the Ranger-led adventure hikes for kids). Two places to consider: Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse and Three-Mile Resthouse. The South Kaibab Trail, too, is in excellent condition and offers several outstanding lookout points for kids. The Rim Trail skirts the Canyon's edge from Hermit's Rest to South Kaibab. Generally, it's flat terrain and never goes into the Canyon. It's excellent for strolling and includes access to the key South Rim lookout points. Note: Dress in line with the season and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and foods like salty trail mix.

Mule Rides - These trips fill up fast. There's a cancellation sheet maintained at the Bright Angel Lodge, and you might get lucky, but it's not likely as these popular trips are booked 13 months in advance. The best trip for kids is the Three Hour Abyss Overlook Mule Ride, which follows the Rim through Ponderosa Pine forest and a Juniper and Pinon Pine woodland chock full of wildlife.

Horseback Riding - One- and two-hour trail rides led by Apache Stables, located outside the Park's main gate in Tusayan. These rides traverse the Ponderosa Pine forest outside the South Rim. Twilight trips and wagon rides are also available.

Digital Photography Workshops - Limited time only. Call Park to get dates and times. Professional photographers lead photo walks in the Park and discuss the proper way to use your digital camera to take stunning landscape and wildlife pictures.

Helicopter Tours - Get a bird's eye view of the Canyon. Helicopter tours depart from Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan. Routes fly over the South Rim's pine forest and over the Dragoon Corridor, the deepest, widest part of the Canyon. See rock temples and shrines and the North Rim before returning to the airport.

IMAX Theatre - See in 34 minutes what would take a lifetime! The IMAX screen is huge. Seats are stadium style. The cumulative effect is similar to actually being there. The Theater, managed by National Geographic, features excellent exhibits, an expert staff, and a food court. Raft trips can be booked here as well. Ticket cost: Adults (11 ): $12.50. Youth (ages 6 - 10): $9.50.