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To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

Level Contributor
13 posts
14 reviews
To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

I am taking my 4 kids ages 10-17-one with sensory issues and one just plain chicken on a multi-park trip--Grand Canyon being our first stop. Contemplating the mule ride into the canyon from the North Rim. We are here only about 24 hours. Is it worth the time, money and arm wrangling?

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
51,355 posts
206 reviews
1. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

Its a thrill and something they won't forget. But only you know your children. The downside is that they'll miss seeing some of the view points that would require more time just to get to. The upside is that they'll get to experience the environment below the rim. That, to me, would be the best choice, but not if your kids aren't willing and able. It's not just a ride. It's an interactive experience and fear cannot be involved.

Destination Expert
for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
16,059 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

Since you are doing multiple parks, there is also a horse ride down into the canyon at Bryce , and at Zion is another horse ride. All done by the same company.


If the kids have fears,of the three, the one at Zion would be pretty tame for them.You are in the canyon looking up from relatively flat land, rather than dropping into the canyon from above like the others.

Edited: 6:03 pm, May 23, 2013
Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
3. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

For what it's worth, mules have a very highly tuned sense of self-preservation: they won't do anything to get themselves hurt much less anyone riding them. Mules that carry children are hand-picked for gentleness of temperament and calm demeanor. It's a special honor in 'muledom' to be chosen as a "kid mule."

That said, Grand Canyon mules will walk on the edge of the trail - nothing to be done about that. They must keep their mounts nose-to-tail with the ones in front of them, which means occasionally giving one's mule a solid swat with a riding crop. Maybe show the kids videos on YouTube, there's plenty of them. Also: if the trail boss senses that anyone - kid or adult - may not be able to handle the trip for whatever reason, they do reserve the right to not let them ride.

However, if they can manage it, like RedRox says, it will be an unforgettable adventure experienced by only a few lucky folks.

New York City, New...
3 posts
1 review
4. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

There's an easier way down into the canyon. You can drive. Yes, Drive. It's the take-out road for some of the raft trips. You drive on Route 66 and turn north in Peach Springs. It's Hualapai land, and you pay a small fee, but the 17 mile road down into the canyon is spectacular. You have to park and walk the last mile along Diamond Creek to the river...the rolling, amazing Colorado river. I think there may be a hotel down there now so check it out.

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
5. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

@traveler6266: you are correct on some counts, not so on others.

It is true that you can drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon via the Diamond Creek Road. It is a beautiful drive, BUT it's a dirt road and all that that implies. Therefore should only be attempted in a properly equipped vehicle, one with 4WD and adequate clearance. And it should be your own vehicle and not a rental. Driving on unpaved roads constitutes off-road driving and will void your rental car insurance policy, leaving you liable for potentially costly repairs. A poster on here did it in a Ford F-150 recently (their own) and had no problem; but in a rented Ford Taurus or other such vehicle, I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole!

Also, there is NO hotel or other overnight accommodations on the Grand Canyon floor in the area that this road goes to (Diamond Creek). The only overnight lodging (bunkhouses, cabins) on the canyon floor is Phantom Ranch, which is far upriver from Diamond Creek and only accessible by mule or on foot.

In TiredinTexas' case, exploring the Inner Canyon via the Diamond Creek road will probably not be practical as it looks like their Grand Canyon vacation is centered around the North Rim, which is hours away from Peach Springs. However, if you're traveling to the South Rim area, and your vehicle is not equipped for off-road driving, day tours down the Diamond Creek Road are offered from Williams or Flagstaff. Info on them ->: http://bit.ly/YugXPx

Hope that helps.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
5,573 posts
73 reviews
6. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

The most practical & spectacular place to get down to the Colorado in the "canyon"(on a hard surfaced road)is at Lee's Ferry... Easy side trip to add to a North Rim Drive... There is a campground,historic structures & toilets... This is also where the river trips through the canyons "rig" & launch . There is a large covered area with tables to eat a packed lunch & watch the process... carracar

Aubrey, Texas
Level Contributor
10,527 posts
169 reviews
7. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

I have not done the mule ride yet my experiences at GC are memorable. One of the memories is hiking up Bright Angel trail and seeing some unhappy faces on the mule riders headed down the trail. I don't doubt it can be a fun time for some, but I've done my share of horse riding and that saddle can get downright uncomfortable if you aren't used to it.

With the limited time you have, I suggest you use it exploring all the viewpoints. The views are all different yet the same--spectacular. If you want to experience the canyon from inside, hike part way down Bright Angel trail depending upon your fitness level.

In the end, the canyon isn't about doing, it's about seeing.

Edited: 10:10 pm, May 31, 2013
Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
Level Contributor
5,991 posts
12 reviews
8. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

Quote: "I think there may be a hotel down there now so check it out."

I'm sorry, but that's just funny!

In the end, I agree with texhills, carracar, and K-Bot. Stick to the Grand Canyon itself, visit the viewpoints, and maybe Lee's Ferry for a float trip. The mule ride is not necessary to fully experience the GC. I teach riding lessons, and can tell you from experience that kids who are "chicken" or have sensory issues, will not do well on a mule. First, mules are bigger than horses (in general), and kids have to have the right mindset for riding. If they are scared or nervous, just putting them on a tall animal won't necessarily cure them. They have to WANT to ride. Otherwise, it's miserable for everybody, including the animal.

Lastly, the wranglers at the Grand Canyon are very "no-nonsense". If your kids aren't "okay" with riding, they aren't going to let them go, end of story.

Edited: 6:56 pm, June 01, 2013
9. Re: To ride a mule or not. This is my ?

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