Visiting Grand Canyon with a Baby or a Toddler (Full Guide!)

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by admin

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. But you may be wondering, is it safe to bring young children to the Grand Canyon? Is it easy to visit the Grand Canyon with young kids? We’re here to tell you that it’s definitely possible (and enjoyable!) to visit the Grand Canyon with a toddler. By planning easy excursions, staying mindful of safety considerations, and bringing the proper gear, you will definitely enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime trip! We recently visited the Grand Canyon with our toddler, and we’re sharing everything we learned from our 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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Grand Canyon with a baby or a Toddler

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About the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon didn’t earn its title as a Natural Wonder of the World for nothing! It’s 277 miles (446 kilometers) long with an average width of 10 miles (16 kilometers). At the widest point, it is 18 miles (29 kilometers) from rim to rim. In some places it is over a mile (1,857 meters) deep!

The Grand Canyon family road trip

In case you were wondering, the other six Natural Wonders of the World are: the Northern Lights, Mount Everest, Paricutin, the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Victoria Falls, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Indigenous people have inhabited the area surrounding the Grand Canyon for thousands of years. Many consider it to be a holy site. The first known European to visit the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas (in 1540). 

The Grand Canyon has been known by many names. The indigenous people have called it: Ongtupqa (from the Hopi), Wi:ka’i:la (from the Yavapai), and Bidááʼ Haʼaztʼiʼ Tsékooh (from the Navajo).

The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River slicing into the rock walls over time. It’s estimated that the Colorado River has been flowing in this area for the past 5 to 6 million years! Over time, tributaries leading into the river have also cut through the canyon walls, leading to the widening of the canyon. The result is the Grand Canyon as you see it today.

Theodore Roosevelt first visited the area in 1903. He worked to establish the region as the Grand Canyon Game Preserve. In 1919, the Grand Canyon became the 17th U.S. National Park.


Guide Books on the Grand Canyon

As you prepare for your trip to the Grand Canyon, don’t forget to pick up a guide book! Here’s a few to consider:

           

(Click on any of the above book images to link to purchase.)

The Grand Canyon was one of several stops we made on our three-week road trip. See our post here to see our full road trip itinerary!
 

Women's sweaters banners for Fall 2022


Baby and Toddler Safety Tips for the Grand Canyon

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Research current weather and road conditions. The National Park Service posts updates on conditions here. 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
  3. Do not 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! 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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!)
  6. Don’t throw rocks (or anything else) over the edge of the canyon. You could injure hikers below, or you could start a landslide.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
safety at the grand canyon
Even some of the areas that have guardrails can be precarious for a toddler. Supervise young children closely at all times.

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! Linked here
    • 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’ve linked the jogging stroller that we use here
    • 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 have linked it here.
    • Sun hat. When your toddler is out walking around, you’ll want to protect their face and neck from the sun. Linked here.
    • Ergo. If you have an infant or younger toddler, you may be more comfortable using this baby carrier. We have linked it here
    • 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 have linked one here
    • 10 Essentials. Whenever you go hiking, it’s important to bring the 10 Essentials for safety preparedness. We wrote a blog post outlining recommended products here


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 (linked here) and just folded it in half prior to boarding. All our drivers allowed us to board. 

stroller on the shuttle at the grand canyon
One bus driver had us place our stroller up here. Other drivers had us place it on the ground.

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!

view of the Grand Canyon

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 here (with detailed information on each of the overlooks!)

woman and toddler at the grand canyon

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. 

woman with stroller at the grand canyon

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.

grand canyon with a toddler

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 here, so check it out if you are planning to complete that trail!

Trail of Time at the Grand Canyon

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!)

trail of time at the Grand Canyon

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. 

trail of time with a toddler at the Grand Canyon

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. 

Horseshoe Bend

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. We wrote a complete guide on Horseshoe Bend here

horseshoe bend trail


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.

For a full list of lodging options in Tusayan, click here

Booking.com  

Tip: If you’re looking for flights, I recommend checking the SkyScanner website to see the best prices for your dates of travel!

 

 


Guided Tours of the Grand Canyon

One excellent way to see the Grand Canyon and nearby sights is to take a guided tour. You won’t have to worry about planning the travel details, and your guide will be knowledgeable about the local spots. You’ll also get the opportunity to see and do some pretty unique things to personalize your trip. Some guided tours you might be especially interested in include:

 


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. Their dinner menu is linked here. 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! 

Big E Steakhouse and Saloon
Barbecue chicken at the Big E Steakhouse and Saloon

 

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!

breakfast at grand canyon

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!

Grand Canyon Chocolate Factory


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 complete the paved trails. That way, our toddler could easily rest and get a break from the sun. It’s also important to closely supervise young children at all times. 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, 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 with 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!

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Pinterest Pin for the Grand Canyon

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DisclaimerWe 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. 

Hi! I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading Spanish novels, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!