"Our Winter Mule Ride: 1996" Mule Rides Tip by AKtravelers

Mule Rides, Grand Canyon: 8 reviews and 6 photos

  Plodding down the snow covered trail
by AKtravelers

On a 1996 trip to southern Arizona, we found that we had more time than expected (mainly because Tombstone was such a tourist trap) so we made the long drive north to the Grand Canyon. Since it was winter, exiting the car after five hours of driving north and up was quite a shock -- zero degrees fahrenheit on the South Rim! Brrr....(in fact, our windshield cracked on the drive)... So, again at the spur of the moment we decided to see if we could get an overnight mule ride to Phantom Ranch on the Canyon floor. After all, it was 55F/15C down there!
Because it was December and the park was relatively empty, we walked right into a slot on the next day's mule ride. The trip started in bitter sub-zero cold, but the mule's body was warm and the occassional methane emission from the mule in front of me would periodically send a wave of warm air my way. And, of course, every step down the canyon brought us into warmer and warmer air. Our group was small and we covered the ground quickly, as the mules need fewer breaks in the winter. It seemed like we were at the bottom in no time.
We had left winter at the snow-covered rim and entered autumn -- even the trees still had colored leaves. We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking around the canyon floor and relaxing by the Colorado River. The next day, we reversed our warming trend by climbing the South Kaibab Trail out of the canyon. If you want more details, check out the travel logue below.
In short, if you can stand a few hours of cold on each end of the trip, the winter mule ride is a great way to see one of the world's natural wonders without a world-class tourist horde. If you're in Arizona during the winter, it's an easy spur-of-the moment trip.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 5, 2006
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