Most of the four million annual visitors to the Grand Canyon arrive in their own cars and use them to tour the park. Yet ditching the family gas guzzler at the end of your road trip to Grand Canyon National Park is a surprisingly easy way to get the most out of your visit to this million-plus-acre natural wonder.
Once travelers arrive at the Grand Canyon, they need not get back behind the wheel until they leave, according to Jon Streit, general manager of Xanterra South Rim. "Car-free vacationing can be surprisingly easy," he says. "Our car-less visitors are free to sit back and enjoy the scenery."
Guests may park for free in a variety of parking areas around the South Rim, including lots in the Grand Canyon Village and satellite parking lots. A free National Park Service shuttle picks up guests every 15 minutes, stopping at numerous destinations along the South Rim and in the town of Tusayan. Convenient stops are located near all Grand Canyon park lodges.
Visitors have been using the Grand Canyon's "long-eared taxes"--surefooted mules, that is--for more than a century. And last year, Xanterra South Rim introduced a new shorter ride that has proven popular with visitors not quite ready for an adventurous two-day mule trip all the way to the Canyon floor.
The Abyss Overlook Mule Ride lasts approximately three hours, departing from the historic Grand Canyon Livery Barn in the Grand Canyon Village twice daily in warmer months and once a day November through mid-March. Only 20 riders are allowed per tour, which costs $110 and includes water, snacks, bota bags, and rain jackets.
Riding the long-eared taxis also comes with some specific conditions: You must weigh less than 225 pounds fully dressed, stand at least 4 feet 7 inches tall, understand English, be in good physical condition (and not pregnant), and have no fear of heights or large animals.
The ride follows a trail that heads along a section of the historic Grand
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