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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Grand Canyon Family Adventures Inlcude Hiking, Stargazing, and Campfire Tales. Grand Canyon RimNorthern Arizona provides a family vacation high like no other. The combination of amazing scenery and plenty of energizing activities makes it easy to disconnect, relax and have fun. No two day will match but everyday will be memorable. Camp along the South Rim or ride a mule to the canyon floor. Learn about the Sinagua or participate in stargazing sessions. Ride the train to the rim or go on horseback through the forest. Our list of favorite makes it easy to just do it.

Stand on the edge and look north. Grand Canyon National Park South Rim encompasses 1,218,375 acres along the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona; the Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site and a powerful and inspiring landscape. First opened in 1919, today the Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five million visitors each year. The immense size of the canyon, as well as its stunning natural beauty are the main reasons its popularity – the canyon is a mile deep, up to 18 miles wide and 277 miles of river run along the bottom of the canyon. Bonus points: The Grand Canyon National Park has a Junior Ranger program for kids, which is a great way to discover the canyon. Bonus Points: The National Park Service is current implementing a cell phone audio tour for visitors at seven stops along the South Rim between Yaki Point, located at along Desert View Drive, and Trailview Overlook, located along Hermits Rest Road; there will eventually be 20 to 25 stops along the South Rim. The cost of the audio tour is free except for the minutes used on a participating visitor’s cell phone. Advice: The options for exploring the canyon are numerous and can be tailored to all levels of fitness and interest – check out the website for all the details. (Grand Canyon South Rim 1(928) 638-7888 or www.nps.gov/grca)
 
Stand on the edge and look south. The higher and cooler (temperature-wise) Grand Canyon National Park North Rim is home to the Grand Canyon Lodge and a large campground. The North Rim is remote (212 miles from the South Rim), smaller and less crowded than the South Rim – it’s a great place to escape with your kids. Several hikes wind along the North Rim, including a five mile hike through the pine forest on the Widforss Trail which is ideal for active kids 10 and up, and the more challenging 9.4-mile round-trip hike down the North Kaibab Trail which features the waterfall at Roaring Springs. Advice: Something to keep in mind is that the three developed viewpoints on the North Rim offer a sense of looking across the expanse of the canyon, rather than into its depths – an entirely different perspective than the South Rim. (The entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim is located 30 miles south of Jacob Lake on Highway 67. (928) 638-7888 or www.nps.gov/grca)
 
Shoot for the stars. This summer the National Park Service, the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (South Rim), and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix (North Rim) will host the eighteenth annual Grand Canyon Star Party (June 21 – June 28, 2008) on the South and North Rims of Grand Canyon National Park. During the Star Party, free star gazing programs will be offered, and numerous telescopes will be set up to help participants view planets, star clusters, galaxies and nebulae at night – and the sun by day! In addition, amateur astronomers from across the country will volunteer their expertise. (South Rim details at www.tucsonastronomy.org/gcsp.html and North Rim details at SaguaroAstro.org)

Ride to the rim with your kids. Arizona TrainGrand Canyon Railway makes it easy to get to the edge and have fun along the way. On September 17, 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway made its first journey to the Grand Canyon. Before the train leaves, visitors should check out the Wild West show. Even after the train departs everyone should keep their eyes peeled – you never know when bandits might show up. The Railway offers a several family getaway passages which are ideal. Famous passengers on the Grand Canyon Railway include Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, William Howard Taft, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, Doris Day, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates. Bonus Points: Perhaps most exciting for families the wintertime Polar Express Train reliving the awesome tale created by Chris Van Allsburg. (Grand Canyon Railway 233 North Grand Canyon Boulevard, Williams, 86046. Toll-free 1-800-THE-TRAIN or www.thetrain.com)
 
Make new discoveries. The Museum of Northern Arizona is definitely a family friendly facility showcases the heritage of the Colorado Plateau. The timelines displayed are very useful to children. One of the most interesting exhibits displays the evolution of food through the ages. If you plan to be in the area for a few days call about the children’s programs, they also have a terrific gift shop with beautiful t-shirts at the lowest prices in the area. The Museum of North Arizona has a fantastic Discovery Program for children ages 4 to 18; during the summer fifty-four classes which explore the wonders of the Colorado Plateau are offered. Bonus Points: In the summer months the Museum of Northern Arizona hosts four festivals which high the region’s cultures. The festivals include the Zuni Festival of Arts and Culture, the Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, the Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture, and a Celebration of the People (Celebraciones de la Gente). Need to know: The third Friday of each month is your opportunity for a behind-the-scenes tour of the MNA collections. (The Museum of Northern Arizona. 3101 N. Fort Valley Rd., Flagstaff, 86001. (928) 774-5213 or www.musnaz.org)

Hike to into the sunset. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is located off of Highway 89, the Sunset Crater Volcano is a place of rare beauty and natural wonder. Born in a series of volcanic eruptions which occurred sometime between 1040 and 1100, the Sunset Crater Volcano profoundly affected the lives of local people and forever altered the local ecology and landscape. The lava formations are impressive and may be viewed from well-marked hiking trails or from roadside vantage points. This a terrific place to hike with children. The trails are well-maintained and easy to follow. Bonus Points: You can even explore the lava flow trail online via the national park’s website. (Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. 6400 North Highway 89, Flagstaff, 86004. (928) 536-0502 or www.nps.gov/sucr)

Encounter the past. Wupatki National Monument is located on the road north from Sunset Crater, Wupatki connects with centuries of sunsets. In the shadow of San Francisco Peaks, it is a terrific place to hike with the kids. On site visitors will see four distinctly fascinating pueblos once inhabited by the Anasazi and the Sinagua people. There are never crowds but always plenty of inspirational vistas. At this site it is best to take a guided tour unless you are familiar with the history of the dig. The trails are easy to walk even with a stroller (Wupatki National Monument. Located 21 miles off of US 89, north of Flagstaff. (928) 679-2365 or www.nps.gov/wupa)

Walk along the edge and into the canyon. Walnut Canyon National Monument is seven miles east of Flagstaff Walnut Canyon National Monument provides yet another glimpse of early residents’ habitats. Nearly a thousand years ago the Sinagua lived along these canyon walls and farmed the fields along the rim. Well-constructed trails allow energetic families to descend into part of the canyon and view the habitat. This one is not to be missed, but wear your walking shoes and forget the stroller. The trail hugs the canyon wall and circles the edge of many small habits. For youngsters it is a perfect way to see how the residents used to live and to imagine life for a child in those times. (Walnut Canyon National Monument. (928) 527-0246 or www.nps.gov/waca)
 

Content researched and posted by Family Travel Files staff and images by National Park Service and Grand Canyon Railway. Copyright 2014.
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