Starting today, Oct. 5, 2009, Xanterra South Rim L.L.C.* is offering a new three-hour trail ride in Grand Canyon National Park. The “Abyss Overlook Mule Ride” replaces the seven-hour trip to Plateau Point.
Overnight mule rides to Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon are not affected.

From March 15 through Oct. 31 the Abyss Overlook Mule Ride departs at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and from Nov. 1 through March 14 the ride departs once each day at 10:00 a.m. All trips feature a maximum of 20 riders and will depart from the main livery barn in Grand Canyon Village. The cost of the ride is $110 plus tax. Water, snacks and “Bota Bags” are included. Rain jackets are available on the ride as well.

The ride follows a trail heading west through a forest of ponderosa pine, piñon pine and junipers to the rim of the Grand Canyon. The ride is approximately one hour and 15 minutes each way with a half-hour stop at the Abyss where riders can dismount to stretch their legs and shoot photos. The Abyss features a 3,000-foot vertical drop and views of many of the Grand Canyon’s colorful pinnacles, buttes and mesas. The rides return on the same trail.

Riders must check in at the Bright Angel Lodge’s transportation desk the day before or at least 60 minutes before departure time on the day of their ride and then be at the barn 30 minutes before departure. All levels of riders are welcome, but they must weigh less than 225 pounds fully dressed and be least 4 feet, 7 inches tall. Each rider must be able to speak and understand fluent English and be in good physical condition. Riders should not be afraid of heights or large animals. Riders cannot be pregnant.

More than 600,000 people have taken Grand Canyon mule rides since they were first offered in 1887. In 1904 the Fred Harvey Company became the exclusive provider of mule rides at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Xanterra Parks & Resorts, then known as Amfac Parks & Resorts, purchased the Fred Harvey Company in 1968.

Mule rides may be reserved by calling 1-303-297-2757 or toll-free within the United States at 1-888-297-2757 or sending a request via e-mail to reserve-gcsr@xanterra.com.

In addition to the mule rides, Xanterra South Rim operates six lodges in Grand Canyon Village as well as a variety of interpretive motorcoach tours, restaurants and gift shops.

Visitors can book their rooms online by visiting www.grandcanyonlodges.com or by calling toll-free 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 from outside the United States. You can learn more about the park by visiting www.nps.gov/grca.