Riding a Mule to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

October 18, 2012 by

Day Trips, Things to Do, Unforgettable Experiences

Riding a mule in the Grand Canyon

Riding a mule in the Grand Canyon. Photo credit: Grand Canyon NPS via Flickr.

There are many reasons why a Grand Canyon visitor might choose to ride a mule down the trails. The altitude is 7,000 ft (2,100 m) above sea level, making overly strenuous climbs even more of a sweat-a-thon; there may be those in your group that would prefer a more unique experience than the average trail walk; and, probably the best reason—it’s a chance to be riding a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

It can take five or six hours to ride down, depending on the size and speed of your group. Mules are strong and capable animals, and they can handle switchbacks with ease, but riders should be able to follow directions and retain important information in case the mule gets temporarily startled. There are opportunities for lodging at the bottom, too, if you feel like staying for a few extra nights.

If a mule ride is not your only reason for visiting the Grand Canyon, look into multi-day trips that offer rafting the Colorado River and/or Jeep tours in addition to mule rides—many of them are all in the same package, so you can pack more variety into a single trip.

Some restrictions might apply according to your tour provider, such as weight (usually 200 lbs/91 kgs), height, and spoken language. Remember, too, that rates can vary according to season. South Rim trips are available all year, but North Rim trips are usually just in summertime. Be sure to tell your guide about any health problems you might have—and think carefully about the trip if you’re particularly afraid of heights (at times you’ll be riding on the outside edge of the trail).

Word to the wise: if your heart is set on a mule-ride, make sure to investigate availability months before your trip. Much like the Inca Trails of Peru, Grand Canyon activities attract people from all over the world and thus can become booked far in advance.

-Natalie Grant

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