Mule Rides in the Grand Canyon

People have been riding mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon since 1904; today the tradition is so popular that visitors book their reservations up to two years in advance! If you’re interested in learning more about Grand Canyon mule rides, here is all the information to get you saddled up and rarin’ to go. Riders travel down the canyon walls on the backs of nimble footed mules that pick their way as delicately as any mountain climber. Led by well trained and experienced guides, mule rides Grand Canyon tours stop every 30 to 45 minutes to rest the mules and drink water; dehydration is a very real risk in the immense heat of the canyon.

Mule trails and donkey rides in the Grand Canyon fall into three categories:

One day trips follow the Bright Angel Trail halfway down the canyon and back. Tours stop at Plateau Point which juts out 1,300 feet above the Colorado River. The trip takes seven hours. Tickets cost over $100.00 per rider including all taxes and a boxed lunch.

Two day trails travel 10.5 miles down to the Colorado River and then 7.3 miles back up to the South Rim. Riders spend the night next to the river at Phantom Ranch, the only lodging that exists on the canyon bottom. After a boxed lunch on the trail there is a hearty steak dinner and breakfast is served the next morning. Tickets cost over $350.00 for one rider; two riders cost over $600.00 including all taxes and meals.

Three day trails spend two nights at Phantom Ranch, allowing visitors more time to explore the river and canyon bottom. Tickets cost over $500.00 for one rider and over $850.00 for two including all taxes and breakfast, lunch and dinner on the first night and a stew dinner on the second night. Riders must purchase their second day breakfast and lunch separately.

Some height and weight restrictions apply to riders and the tour will weigh and measure everyone to verify. Participants must be over 4 feet 7 inches tall (1.38 m) and weigh less than 200 lbs (91 kg). Riders cannot be pregnant, must understand fluent English, be fit and in good physical condition and be unafraid of large animals and heights.

The National Park Service recommends booking Grand Canyon mule rides well in advance ; trips may be reserved up to 23 months previous. To book your mule ride, contact Xanterra at (888) 297 2757 from within the U.S. or call (1) 303 297 2757 internationally. A waiting list exists of people hoping to book spots opened by cancellation, though the chances of actually finding a trip this way are slim. For waiting list information, contact the transportation desk at the Bright Angel Lodge by calling (928) 638 2631.

If you can’t get mule ride reservations in time for your trip to the Grand Canyon, horseback riding expeditions are available. Spend a few hours on horseback exploring the different canyons around the Grand Canyon; contact Apache Stables at (928) 638 2891 for information and reservations. The Havasupai Tourist Enterprise offers longer multi day rides; contact them at (602) 448 2121.