Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Kelly
Thinking of traveling to the Grand Canyon with a baby or a toddler? As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is certainly a bucket-list destination. We recently visited the Grand Canyon with our toddler, and we had the best time!
By planning easy excursions, staying mindful of safety considerations, and bringing the proper gear, you will definitely enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime trip! In this post, we’re sharing everything you need to know about visiting the Grand Canyon with a baby or a toddler.
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Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon with Young Children
There are a few things to keep in mind to prepare you for a safe trip with your baby or toddler at the Grand Canyon.
- Research your planned hikes and trail conditions. You’ll want to know which hikes have steep drop-offs, which viewpoints have guardrails, and which trails are paved or unpaved. (More details on that below!) When you arrive, you can ask a park ranger about any current conditions you should be aware of, especially as it relates to hiking with young children.
- Research current weather and road conditions. The National Park Service posts updates on conditions. If it’s going to be warm or sunny, you’ll want to bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and a sun hat with a wide brim.
- Don’t feed the wildlife. Don’t approach wildlife and don’t offer animals human food. We saw plenty of signs saying the most dangerous animal at the Grand Canyon is the squirrel!
- Stay on marked trails. If you leave the trail, you could get lost or encounter a steep drop-off. Be sure to stick to the clearly marked trails.
- Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from the edge of the rim. There are documented fatalities from people getting too close to the edge and falling. (Your personal safety is not worth the selfie!)
- Don’t throw rocks (or anything else) over the edge of the canyon. You could injure hikers below, or you could start a landslide.
- Closely supervise your child even when there are guardrails. A toddler could climb through many of the guardrails. As shown in the picture below, some of the guardrails are placed around areas that have cave in a bit. Just be sure to have a close eye on your child at all times.
- Learn from a Park Ranger. The National Park Service put out a podcast and article about hiking safely with infants and toddlers. There are lots of great tips!
|The Grand Canyon was one of several stops we made on our three-week road trip.
Essential Items for Visiting the Grand Canyon with Children
These products will help you to make the most of your trip to the Grand Canyon with a baby or a toddler!
- Child harness backpack. If you want to do any unpaved trails, you’ll want to carry your toddler. This is the pack that we use, and it is super light. It’s also more affordable compared to some other brands. Bonus that it has a built-in sun shade!
- Stroller. There are several paved trails that are much easier to use with a stroller. (That way your toddler can take a nap or get a break from the sun.) We brought a Thule jogging stroller to the Grand Canyon, and it worked out perfectly for us.
- Stroller sunshade. This product is a game-changer. It covers your stroller completely to protect your toddler from the sun. (You won’t have to worry about the sun shining on those little legs!) It blocks up to 97.5% of UV rays. It’s air-permeable, so your toddler will be able to breathe. It has the added bonus of making the stroller darker, so it can be especially helpful at nap time. We were so glad we brought this with us.
- Sun hat. When your toddler is out walking around, you’ll want to protect their face and neck from the sun.
- Ergo. If you have an infant or younger toddler, you may be more comfortable using this baby carrier.
- Insulated water bottle. This water bottle will keep you water cooler for longer. Trust us, there is nothing better than gulping ice-cold water on a hot day. We’ve had this water bottle for a long time, and we are glad we made the switch!
- 10 Essentials. Whenever you go hiking, it’s important to bring the 10 Essentials for safety preparedness.
Should You Bring a Stroller to the Grand Canyon?
One of the first things you’ll have to decide is if you want to bring a stroller to the Grand Canyon. We think that having a stroller with you will make a big difference as you plan your day. If you can bring your stroller, your baby or toddler will have a place to nap and a place to retreat from the sun.
The Grand Canyon shuttles allow small, foldable strollers on board. Bulky jogging strollers are prohibited. The drivers just ask that you have your stroller folded and ready to go. We brought our stroller and just folded it in half prior to boarding. All our drivers allowed us to board.
4 Family-Friendly Hikes at the Grand Canyon
Now that you know you can bring your stroller with you, you can start planning some stroller-friendly hikes!
1. The Rim Trail
The Rim Trail has a series of scenic overlooks and is best accessed by taking the Hermit Road Shuttle. Taking the Hermit Road Shuttle was probably the highlight of our toddler daughter’s road trip. She loved sitting in the front row, holding onto the bars, and saying “vroom vroom!”
The shuttle route connects Grand Canyon Village with Hermits Rest. It’s 7 miles long, and there are a total of 9 scenic overlooks. You can decide to hop out at one or all nine of them. There are also paved trails that connect some of the overlooks. So, you can decide to walk some of the seven miles if you’d like. We wrote a complete post on the Rim Trail (with detailed information on each of the overlooks!)
If you don’t get off the bus and just ride the shuttle, the ride is 80 minutes long roundtrip. We recommend that you plan to do this activity for a half day. We found that the shuttle was much busier in the afternoon, and relatively quiet in the morning when we visited in June. We didn’t need to wait in any shuttle lines when we arrived between 9-10am during our visit. (Note that the outbound buses stop at all nine overlooks, and the return trip buses stop only at four of them.)
The nine shuttle stops are: Trailview Overlook, Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, The Abyss, Monument Creek Vistas, and Hermits Rest.
If you’d like to walk a portion of the way along a paved route, disembark at the Monument Creek Vista. There is a 3 mile trail for bicyclists and pedestrians. It is fully accessible up until Pima Point.
When you visit the view points, just be mindful of your toddler if you approach any steep drop-offs. Either keep your toddler in the stroller, or be sure that you have a close eye on them.
2. Trail of Time
The Trail of Time is a relatively flat paved trail that takes you through a geological timeline of the canyon’s creation. It is 2.83 miles long (4.56 kilometers). Each meter you walk along the trail represents a million years of geological history. It really gives you an appreciation for the magnitude of time! Time is marked by bronze markers embedded into the trail. We wrote a complete post on the Trail of Time, so check it out if you are planning to complete that trail!
You can reach the beginning of the Trail of Time at the Yavapai Geology Museum.
It’s an excellent activity to do with a toddler. It’s not every day you can walk through millions of years of time! Plus, you can make lots of puns as you stroll through time. (It feels like this hike is taking forever!)
There are some areas where the trail skirts near the edge of the canyon. Again, be mindful if you have young children walking with you.
3. Shoshone Point Trail
One of the hidden gems of the Grand Canyon is the Shoshone Point Trail. It is off the beaten path, so there tends to be less visitors here.
This is an out-and-back trail that is 2.1 miles long with only 150 feet of elevation gain. When you reach the end, you’ll be rewarded with excellent views of the canyon. The trail is not paved, but it’s a dirt trail. A jogging stroller would likely be fine on this trail, but use your judgment.
4. Mather Point
This is not so much a trail, as it’s just a short walk from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The viewpoint is named for Stephen Tyng Mather, who was the first director of the National Park Service. At this viewpoint, you will have expansive views of the entire canyon. It’s an excellent place to catch a sunrise or a sunset. There is an ADA-accessible ramp that takes you to the viewpoint, so this is a good stroller-friendly place to visit.
Toddler-Friendly Attractions Near the Grand Canyon
In addition to the trails, there’s a lot for a little toddler to do in the vicinity!
Grand Canyon Railway
If your toddler likes trains (and what toddler doesn’t?), you could book a trip on the Grand Canyon Railway. It’s about a two-hour ride, and it’s an efficient way to see a lot of the surrounding area.
Children are allowed in three of the six classes (Pullman Class, Coach Class, and First Class). And, children under age 2 are free!
Bearizona Wildlife Park
About an hour south of the Grand Canyon is Bearizona Wildlife Park. They have a drive-through wildlife park and a self-guided walking tour. You’ll see animals such as jaguars, sheep, and bobcats. Many of the animals in the park have been rescued due to conservation efforts.
If you have enough time for a day trip, you can take a short road trip to Horseshoe Bend. The total drive time is about 2.5 hours each way. Horseshoe Bend was one of the most impressive viewpoints we have seen during our travels, so it’s well worth the time spent.
Where to Stay at the Grand Canyon with a Toddler
Lodging at Grand Canyon Village
The hotels within the park are: El Tovar Hotel, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, Yavapai Lodge, and Maswik Lodge. These hotels tend to book up early, so be sure to plan your trip in advance. The advantage to staying within the Grand Canyon Village is that the shuttles are easily within walking distance.
Lodging at Tusayan
You can also stay in the nearby town of Tusayan. (Only a 12 minute drive away from the park.) This is where we stayed. The downside is that you will have to wait in line to enter the park each day. We left early in the morning, though, and we never had to wait more than 5 minutes to enter the park.
We stayed at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn. This hotel had both an indoor and an outdoor pool, and a huge fitness center. We especially liked the indoor pool because our toddler could play in the pool and we didn’t have to worry about sun protection. The common areas were also very beautiful, and we really enjoyed our breakfast there each morning.
Dining Ideas Near the Grand Canyon
Restaurants in Grand Canyon Village
El Tovar Lodge Dining Room: Reservations are required for lunch and dinner, so if this is a restaurant you want to check out, be sure to book early. The dining room is very rustic, with lots of natural stones and pine. For cocktails, they have an entire section on Grand Canyon Mules. They serve steaks, seafood, and chicken, along with several vegetarian options. Fine dining with a toddler can sometimes be rough, so you can always visit at lunch or breakfast too!
Maswik Food Court: For a casual and quick meal, you can stop by the food court at Maswik Lodge. We were able to stop by here for lunch very easily after we completed the shuttle at Hermit’s Rest. They serve a variety of sandwiches and wraps. They also have a grab-and-go menu which makes taking lunch out on the trail very easy.
Restaurants in Tusayan
Big E Steakhouse and Saloon: You’ll find lots of comfort food at this steakhouse. It has a saloon theme and is equipped with a small stage where there is sometimes live performances. Definitely a fun place to take a toddler!
Plaza Bonito: This is a great option for Mexican food. (We went there twice!) There’s lots of seating and we never needed to wait for a table.
We Cook Pizza & Pasta: This is a counter-service restaurant with tons of pizza and pasta options. This is a good option for a quick meal!
Breakfast at Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn: Each morning we had yummy breakfast at our hotel. It wasn’t free, but it was fairly affordable and very delicious!
Grand Canyon Chocolate Factory: For dessert, you can pick up homemade fudge, caramel corn, chocolate candies, or ice cream. They served chocolate covered strawberries which would be perfect for a date night!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you take a toddler to the Grand Canyon?
You can absolutely travel with your toddler to the Grand Canyon. When we visited the Grand Canyon with our daughter, we found it helpful to take our stroller and stick to the paved trails. That way, our toddler could easily nap-on-the-go or get a break from the sun. It’s also important to closely supervise young children at all times while at the Grand Canyon. Many of the trails and lookouts have steep drop-offs.
Can you take strollers to the Grand Canyon?
You can definitely pack a stroller with you when you visit the Grand Canyon. The Rim Trail and the Trail of Time are especially well-suited for strollers.
Which part of the Grand Canyon is best for kids?
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is an ideal destination for families with young children. There are museums, paved trails that are perfect for strollers, and plenty of restaurant options.
How many days should I spend at the Grand Canyon with kids?
If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon with kids, you’ll be able to complete most of the activities within one or two days.
Summary: Our Trip to the Grand Canyon
We allocated two days to spend at the Grand Canyon with our toddler. We’re grateful we gave ourselves two days, because it turns out we had car trouble on the second day and spent the entire day fixing our tire.
We were very cautious around the Grand Canyon’s rim. We closely supervised our toddler at all times.
We are so glad that we visited the Grand Canyon with our toddler. Seeing the Grand Canyon in photos is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is quite another! We especially enjoyed the Trail of Time and the Rim Trail. Our daughter’s favorite part of the Grand Canyon, though, was the shuttle bus!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information. Please note that safety and weather considerations at the Grand Canyon change daily, so this article can’t tell you whether or not it’s safe for you to hike with your child to these locations on any given day. This post is for informational purposes and not for personal advice. We merely share our experiences.