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South Rim

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posts: 6
South Rim

We'd like to visit the South Rim in November. Any recommendations for a place to stay and hiking for a family of four (kids10+12)? Where would you recommend flying in to? Any other attreactions which aren't too touristy? Thanks.

Harpers Ferry, WV
posts: 1
1. Re: South Rim

I signed up for a hike in December sponsored by Four Seasons Outfitters. They can be reached at http://www.fsoutfitters.com/ However, it's my first time with them so I'm

not in a position to be a referal from experience. We'll see. Jacques

On the Road
posts: 1
2. Re: South Rim


Sounds like fun!

I used to live and work on the South Rim but haven't been there for a while so some specifics may need checking, but you need to ask yourself a few questions first:

Early or Late November? At 7000 feet, the South Rim is getting colder and it can snow at any time (usually does around mid-Oct for the first time). If earlier, the weather may be milder BUT DON'T FORGET YOUR SWEATSHIRTS/STOCKING CAPS AND GLOVES!!!! If there hasn't been much snow, the trails won't be icy. Later in the winter/spring ice can be a real issue on the upper portion of the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails as the sun doesn't get to shine on it.

Know that if you are coming out for Thanksgiving weekend it's going to be very busy. Pretty much, any time kids anywhere are out of school it's busy.

How much time do you have to spend? The average amount of time most tourists used to spend at the Canyon was a hair over 2 hours. They cheated themselves beyond belief. It seems to take a couple trips to really figure out what you really want to do. The first trip is just a "recon" mission--see what's available and where you want to devote your time and attention the next time. Two days is, in my opinion, the bare minimum of time needed for this part. Many will argue with me on that-in both directions.

How much money do you want to spend? The Canyon can be a great experience either way. Park Rangers offer walks and talks that are geared to different subjects. You've already paid for these activities through your tax dollars, you may as take advantage of them. The Visitor Center is one of the first stops you should make on arrival. They have a museum and slide show and loads of information on individual activities you can do. Be certain to pick up a copy of NPS's Grand Canyon Guide newspaper. It gives updated information on the ranger-guided walks available that month. Study the Guide. In fact, check the Park Service website (www.NPS.Gov) and see if you can get them to send out an information packet. It would have the current issue of the Guide, but if it still tells about day hikes like it used to, it will give you some great ideas before you get there.

What type of activities does your family like to do? GT'd if your kids don't want to disconnect from video games, you may have a problem. Bring a book to read at night or in case the weather goes south on you (go to the El Tovar and curl up on the couch in front of the big fireplace in the lobby). If you happen to be lucky enough to have a heavy snowfall (like, 20 inches), chill out, read or sleep while it's snowing and wait for it to quit and see the most incredibly inspiring sight in your life. But, waiting around while it snows does require some patience (also, it usually happens later in the season).

Check out the sunset or the sunrise. Closeby popular points for sunset are Yaki and Hopi points because they stick out a little farther north into the canyon. Mather and Yavapai is very nice at sunrise. One thing I learned was, even in the summer when it was crazy busy at the viewpoints and I wanted to be a bit more alone, all I had to do was walk about 50 to 100 yards along the edge away from the main area and I'd find my solitude. Ask the locals for their favorite recommendations.


How physically fit are you? Many people get deceived by the Canyon. They don't think about the 7000 foot elevation which makes the air thin for folks from lower elevations. Heart problems can be made worse. Hiking down seems easy so folks go down too far and then have to drag themselves back out.

Rule of thumb for hiking, 1 hour down takes 2 hours up. And, one hour won't get you to the bottom. Decide in advance how much time you want to hike-and be realistic. When a third of that time has gone by, turn around and come back up. Don't turn it into a death march or an endurance test for yourself or your kids or all of you will hate it.

Have good shoes that are broken in and cut your toenails (they will shove into the toe of your shoe when you are going down). BE CERTAIN TO TAKE, AND DRINK, PLENTY OF WATER and EAT, TOO! This is where the "Grand Canyon Guide" comes in. There's great information in it about what to expect, what to consider and what to bring on your day hikes. No one wants anyone to get hurt.

Personally, I'd probably recommend a day hike down to Cedar Ridge on the South Kaibab Trail. Average time round trip is 3-4 hours. Pack a lunch to eat when you get there, take a break and come back up.

Don't feel you MUST walk into the Canyon. The Rim trail is very pretty and wheelchair accessible. Your chances of seeing mule deer and maybe elk are excellent.

Mule rides: Check at the Bright Angel Transportation Desk in the lobby of the Bright Angel Lodge about availability and rates. They used to take a wait list for cancelations if the ride is sold out. Basic physical requirements are probably still: at least 4'7" in height, under 200 pounds fully dressed, able to speak and understand fluent English and not afraid of heights or large animals. Take a little walk down the Bright Angel trail. If you can't handle the heights on your own two feet, putting you up another 6 feet up on a mule won't help. Even if you don't want to do the ride itself, find out when orientation and departure at the corral is. It's fun to watch the wranglers, and the dudes, size each other (and the mules) up for the first time.

Bus Tours and Air Flights: Both are great ways to see the Canyon. Both are more environmentally friendly than they are given credit for. The information you get from the guides will just help you appreciate the grandeur. When my mom was dying of brain cancer and couldn't remember my name, she remembered her flight over the Canyon.

Airports from Boston (I assume) to the GC area: Check rates for flying into Las Vegas or Phoenix and either renting a car or hopping on a puddle-jumper to Grand Canyon Airport.

If you fly into Phoenix, you will probably end up driving up to the Canyon (@225 miles or so). There may be some companies that offer flights between Phx and the Canyon, so do a little internet searching. I don't know if you can rent cars at the GC airport, but there is taxi/shuttle service available. If you drive up, be sure to drive through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon (if the weather is good). Study an Arizona map-there's lots of Native American sites and ruins in the area you'll be driving through.

For sure there are several companies that fly from Las Vegas to the Canyon. International tourism helps make that a booming business. Most of those commuter flights include a tour of the Canyon in one direction. Again, search the internet and see what suits your situation best. If you drive from Las Vegas, it's about 300 miles and you'll go over Hoover Dam.

As far as a place to stay at the Canyon, it depends on what's available. If you aren't hitting the holiday try to stay inside the Park. Everything is a lot closer, you won't fight traffic at the entrance gate as much. Xanterra is the park concessionaire (and has to answer to NPS if things aren't right) and you can get more information on the rooms at their website (just google "Xanterra" and you'll find it). Of the hotels inside the park, the El Tovar is the elegant historic hotel right on the rim, very pretty and the priciest of the bunch. Kachina, Thunderbird (more modern) and Bright Angel (also historic) are also right along the rim. Maswik is about a 5-10 minute walk (depending on where your room is) to the Bright Angel trailhead on the rim. Yavapai, which is closer to the Visitor Center, is the only one where a car is desired if the shuttle service inside the park isn't running. Maswik and Yavapai have cafeterias, El Tovar and Bright Angel have restaurants.

Outside the park is the village of Tusayan. There are also several hotels there. It's about 7 miles from the rim if I remember right. National Park Service has no control over these lodges. The IMAX theater is in Tusayan. "Grand Canyon, the Hidden Secrets" is great. The next place to stay is 30 miles south at Valle, or 60 miles south in Williams.

I hope this helps you a little bit. I would check out the National Park Service website (www.NPS.GOV) and the Xanterra website for in-park information.


posts: 6
3. Re: South Rim

Thanks so much for all the information!

Seattle, WA
posts: 3
4. Re: South Rim

All the previous post have supplied good info!

For hiking in November, the top portions of most trails may have lingering snow that has iced-up. This can make it virtually impossible to get below the rim unless you have instep snow cleats, but I wouldn't try it with kids.

See my previous thread for detailed lodging, dining, shopping and side trip recommendations.

Scenic Airlines flies in from Las Vegas, with an airtour included, but winter weather conditions can be iffy. otherwise you can also fly into Flagstaff and drive or take a shuttle like Open Road Tours, but Flagstaff weather can also be iffy. Phoenix is no problem year round and Open Road also offers shuttles to Grand Canyon from there.

Have fun!!!


posts: 130
5. Re: South Rim


Thank you for all the great information.

I'll be staying in the canyon in May. all this information will come in quite handy.