South Rim of the Grand Canyon Family Trip
Our family mountain bike trip to the South Rim is one of the best ways to visit the Grand Canyon.
We start our trip on the Arizona Trail which takes us through beautiful ponderosa forests on the plateau above the canyon. Two days in the forest brings us to the edge of the big ditch.
On day three, a dramatic hike into the canyon offers us a new perspective of this incredible landscape. The riding on this trip is quite gentle with very little elevation change, making it a great opportunity to learn about singletrack.
We avoid the crowds along the rim of the canyon and camp instead in more remote areas which we have all to ourselves. We finish the trip with a ride along the West Rim Drive which is closed to vehicles. This gives us a chance to visit many of the classic viewpoints by bike.
The van is always close at hand on this trip and there is very little climbing. The rolling singletrack of the Arizona Trail is a great place for those just getting into mountain biking.
We’ll begin our journey up to the South Rim with a shuttle from Flagstaff to Tusayan. Our scenic drive will take us into one of the largest continuous Ponderosa pine forests in the world. Here we’ll start our ride over 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. The terrain rises gently up to the rim and the riding is fun and easy. Today, we’ll pedal up to 20 miles on rolling forest roads through open stands of large trees. Wildlife here is abundant and it is quite common to see wild turkeys, mule deer, elk and coyote during the ride. Tonight we’ll camp less than two miles from the rim near the Grandview Fire Tower, where a climb to the top will offer you views above the treetops down into the canyon and beyond. TOTAL MILEAGE: 20 miles, other options available
After a hearty breakfast we’ll set out to enjoy some of the finest riding in Arizona. The morning offers a chance for the family to explore the hidden secrets of the ponderosa forest along the rim together, and hit some awesome singletrack on the Coconino Ridge section of the Arizona Trail on the way back home. This trail covers 800 miles from the northern to southern state lines and was completed on December 16, 2011. This South Rim section is especially fun! We’ll return to our camp beneath the Grandview Fire Tower tonight and then drive a short shuttle over to Grandview Point after dinner to watch the sunset paint the walls of the canyon with colors and images you won’t soon forget. TOTAL MILEAGE: 25 miles, other options available
Today we’ll ride a variety of trails and forest roads that will lead us to our camp inside Grand Canyon National Park. We’ll begin with a fun five mile section of the Arizona Trail that follows the southern boundary of the park. This will bring us to a network of forest roads and bike trails that take a circuitous route into Tusayan. Small ups and downs combined with fun corners and a smooth trail surface make this very enjoyable riding indeed. After a quick stop in Tusayan, you can either ride or get in the van for the cruise to our home for the next two nights at Mather Campground. Inside the park, the opportunities for activities are endless. TOTAL MILEAGE: 18 - 26 miles, other options available
Today we’ll get a chance to explore Grand Canyon National Park on bike and on foot. We’ll begin with an easy ride from our camp along the bike path to the top of the Bright Angel Trail. One of the best known trails in the canyon, the winding path takes us back in time as we descend through the rock layers of sandstone, shale, and limestone. The scale of the canyon becomes more and more apparent the farther into it you descend. The Bright Angel Trail offers resthouses with shade and water every one and a half miles on the way down. This makes the trail great for the family to see the inside of the canyon without having to carry big packs. After returning to the top of the trail, we’ll have a chance to check out a ranger program or two. Our guides will help the kids get their Junior Ranger Badges as they learn about the mysteries of the canyon’s geology, history and even tour the canyons vibrant night sky, which is among the darkest and least disturbed in the country. We will return to our camp in Mather Campground to finish off the day with s‘mores and stories of what we’ve learned. TOTAL MILEAGE: 3 miles riding, 3 - 6 miles hiking
For our last day of the trip, we’ll connect with the scenic West Rim Drive, which is a great 16 mile round trip paved road ride. The views while riding are spectacular and stopping at the viewpoints will give you the opportunity to view some of the Grand Canyon’s famous viewpoints. Powell Point, The Abyss, and Hermits Rest are all great places to hop off the bike and check out the views. You may opt to visit the El Tovar Hotel or the Kolb Studio, the home and business of the Grand Canyon’s pioneering photographers. We will regroup at the van for lunch and then return to Flagstaff where our journey ends. TOTAL MILEAGE: 10 - 20 miles, other options available
We will be without vehicle support during all singletrack sections of the trip but the van is never too far away. Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety, and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventures.
Riding Surface: Dirt roads, smooth singletrack trails and pavement.
Overall Rating: Introductory
Technical Difficulty: Easy
Physical Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Altitude: 6,000 - 7,500 feet
For travel logistics and a packing list, please download the complete trip itinerary.