While the beautiful Grand Canyon National Park is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the west, there is much more to do than hike! Check out a roundup of some of our favorite activities below, from train rides and Navajo cultural demonstrations to lake activities and more!
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway was completed in 1901 to the Grand Canyon, but went out of business in 1969 when the automobile became more popular than riding trains. In 1989, two entrepreneurs brought the Grand Canyon Railway back into business. Part of the renovation included completely relaying the train tracks, due to the dilapidated state of the abandoned system. When visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, skip the car (and parking hassle) and make your entrance on the Grand Canyon Railway! Your journey will begin at the train depot in Williams, AZ. The trip will take you 2 hours, and includes a one-of-a-kind tour of the route to the Grand Canyon.
They had to completely re-lay all these tracks because they were abandoned and in complete disrepair. When visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, skip the car and make an entrance on the Grand Canyon Railway! Starting at the train depot in Williams, AZ, the railway to the Grand Canyon is about a 2 hour journey, offering rides every day of the year, save for Christmas Day. Visit during the holiday season when the railway transforms into the Polar Express, transporting your family to the “North Pole” while sipping hot chocolate and relaxing in your pajamas! Travelling without youngsters? There’s a nice treat for passengers 16 and up: the luxury car! They offer multiple classes on the train, so there’s a class of service to fit every budget.
Located in Page, Arizona, Lake Powell is just on the border of Arizona and Utah, an easy, gorgeous, drive from the Grand Canyon. With over 2 million visitors per year, it’s a popular but tranquil destination for your family to enjoy the breathtaking views of Lake Powell. Also at Lake Powell is Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon that has become the most-photographed and most-visited slot canyon in all of the American Southwest.
The best way to explore it? Antelope Canyon Boat Tours! The erosion of Navajo sandstone from flash flooding and rainfall formed Antelope Canyon. With the water smoothing the edges and carving the corridors, the result is a flowing texture in the rock. The sights at Antelope Canyon are overwhelming to take in, and the tranquility is a welcome departure from the daily buzz of life.
Also located in Page is Horseshoe Bend, a bend in the Colorado River that’s shaped like a horseshoe! Located 5 miles downstream from Lake Powell, and 4 miles southwest of Page, AZ this 1.5-mile round trip hike makes for a challenging, yet doable trek, and the views from the overlook are breathtaking. Be sure to keep animals leashed and small children close to you. It can get quite busy, so try to get there early to witness the beauty of Horseshoe Bend yourself!
Navajo Interactive Museum
There are over a dozen federally recognized Native American tribes in Arizona, the Navajo Nation being the largest reservation in the United States. Covering over 27,000 square miles, the Navajo Nation spans 3 states: Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, and is home to over 300,000 people! One spot you can’t miss when visiting the Navajo reservation is the Navajo Interactive Museum, located in Tuba City. It answers a lot of questions about the Navajo people, the areas, the reservation, the schools, the government, and their way of life.
Split into 4 quadrants, visitors enter in the east and move counterclockwise in a circle through each directional symbol: east, south, west, and north. The east stands for new beginning, new birth, the south represents the teenage year. Then, from south to west, as you ‘become an adult’, there is more learning and teaching. Finally, from west to north you ‘go to your old age’. You go in a full circle, so that you become like a child again.
Visitors get to see hands-on demonstrations (such as carding and spinning wool for Navajo rugs). The Navajo Interactive Museum has lots to see so you and your family can immerse yourselves and learn about something new: the Navajo way of life.