Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hot Tips for Taking Kids to the Grand Canyon

Some of the vacations that my family enjoyed the most were trips with the kids to the Grand Canyon. out west. Along the way, I learned a thing or two about taking grade school age children to Arizona. Unless you have stood on the South Rim it is impossible to grasp the expanse. When taking kids to the Grand Canyon,  it's prudent to do a little more advance planning for this trip than for other destinations.


The Grand Canyon is divided into the North Rim and the South Rim. They are each very different to the other. The North Rim is higher in elevation and cooler. The South Rim is in the dessert and (in my opinion) has the best views of the canyon. For these reasons, this article concentrates on taking kids to the Grand Canyon, South Rim.
It's prudent to exercise more caution here than at some other vacation destinations. Using these tips can help you have a better vacation.

Learn before leaving
There are plenty of sites on the internet where you can learn more about the Grand Canyon. Taking kids to the Grand Canyon is fun but you (and they) need to understand some of the challenges. Underestimating the effects of heat, terrain or altitude can be disastrous. The National Park Service page, Things to Know Before You Come, is a must read.

Lodging
Make hotel reservations as soon as possible. Cabins within the park fill at lightening speed. We booked four months out and had to stay an hour away in Flagstaff. Cabins and lodges that were closer were full.

Heat sickness
When it comes to taking kids to the Grand Canyon it pays to be vigilant about the dangers of heat sickness. Locals sip on sports drinks and water when walking in the heat. Your family should too. Children and the elderly are the most susceptible. Encourage the kids to drink throughout the trip.

Kids and the shuttle
Free air conditioned shuttles are the most convenient and best way to see the South Rim. Adults may be spellbound with the scenery but youngsters may need something to do on the shuttle. Bring age appropriate quiet games that can be used on the shuttle if you bring young kids to the Grand Canyon.

Stay away from the edge
The vastness makes depth perception difficult to judge and the boudaries may be missed in the excitement of a vacation. Keep a close eye on kids at the Grand Canyon. Make them stay far back from fences and barriers. Above all, never let them climb or play on fences or retaining walls.

Food
The easiest thing to do is pack a picnic. My kids munched often at the Grand Canyon but never ate more than a few bites at a time. Salty snacks and small sandwiches were the order of the day. I carried these, and frozen water bottles, in my insulated backpack at all times and had more in a cooler in the car

Let the kids take photos.
Taking kids to the Grand Canyon means lots of photo ops. Even children as young as five or six may enjoy taking photos as much as being in them. An inexpensive digital camera or disposable variety adds fun and memories to the trip.