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World Famous Mule Rides

Travel Advisory:

The National Park Service has informed Xanterra Travel Collection that they are moving forward with the planning and eventual execution of major infrastructure rehabilitation projects, and that the projects will impact some of our concessions operations. Hence, we are pausing lottery entries / bookings for Phantom Ranch overnight mule rides beginning January 01, 2023 and hiker cabins for stays arriving May 01, 2023 onward. Portions of the Bright Angel Trail are anticipated to be closed at different times throughout the project.

We anticipate receiving more information from the National Park Service in autumn of 2022 and may adjust our operations accordingly. We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage you to seek lodging at one of our properties on the rim.

Mule Rides at Grand Canyon National Park
For the more adventuresome visitor looking to create the memory of a lifetime, take a mule ride down into the Grand Canyon or perhaps along the rim. We offer two guided rides using a time-honored method of canyon transportation: the sure-footed mule.

Horses may be iconic to the American West, but the equine of choice at Grand Canyon has long been its hybrid relative, the mule. These animals combine the sure-footedness of a burro with the larger size and strength of a horse, and have been carrying canyon visitors since the late 1800’s. More than 600,000 people have taken Grand Canyon mule rides since they were first offered in 1887. In 1904, Fred Harvey became the exclusive provider of mule rides at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Xanterra Travel Collection, then known as Amfac Parks & Resorts, purchased the Fred Harvey Company in 1968.

There is no Grand Canyon adventure more rewarding or more unique than a mule ride. The overnight rides go deep into the canyon, staying overnight at Phantom Ranch. If you think the view from the rim takes your breath away, wait until you experience the Grand Canyon from within. If you only have a short time to visit the South Rim, but are still longing for adventure, you can take the 2-hour Canyon Vistas Rim Ride. While it doesn’t take you into the canyon itself, the views along the way are stunning.

Travel Advisory:

Canyon Vistas mule riders should plan to provide their own rain gear as necessitated by local weather forecasts. All mule riders are strongly encouraged to check in at the Bright Angel Transportation Desk the day prior to their ride, and you must arrive to the Village Mule Barn 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure the morning of your ride. You must reconfirm your reservation at least two (2) days prior to your tour date by calling 928-638-3283.

Grand Canyon mule riders are able to take in the breathtaking vistas of Grand Canyon National Park while traveling along the rim of the canyon. Grand Canyon National Park Lodges offer a four-mile, three-hour mule activity (two-hours in the saddle) that departs five miles east of the Historic Grand Canyon Village at the Yaki Barn. Bus transportation is included to and from Yaki Barn and the Historic Village Livery Barn. The mule ride travels along the East Rim Trail built by the National Park Service. Wranglers will stop at least six times along the trail to provide interpretive information about the geologic formations, human history, fire ecology, and more. There are up to 20 riders per departure.

March 1st through October 31st
The Mule Rides depart at 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. (you must check in by 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. respectively).

November 1st through February 28/29th
The Mule Ride departs at 10:00 a.m. (you must check in by 8:30 a.m.).

PRICING – The cost of the ride is $155.77 per person, including tax, and is subject to change without notice. A souvenir water bottle is included.

RESERVATIONS — Mule rides may be reserved by calling 1-303-297-2757 or toll-free within the United States at 1-888-297-2757.

All riders must be present to check-in at the Bright Angel Lodge’s transportation desk preferably the day before the ride or at least 90 minutes before departure time. All riders must be at the Historic Village Livery Barn 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure. A short interpretive tour to the Yaki Barn and back is part of the adventure.

This remarkable adventure begins at the stone corral adjacent to the historic Bright Angel Lodge. Here our Livery Manager will prepare you for the ride by reviewing the safety requirements and provide you with information about the trail and Grand Canyon. Next, our Wranglers will saddle you up and prepare you for your adventure. The descent down the Bright Angel Trail is 10.5 miles and will take approximately 5 ½ hours. No worries, there are rest stops along the way. You will enjoy a box lunch at Indian Garden, and then proceed along the rock face of the Inner Gorge, across the Colorado River on the Suspension Bridge, and up Bright Angel Canyon on the north side of the river to Phantom Ranch. Overnight mule rides stay the night at Phantom Ranch, a rustic historic oasis nestled deep in the canyon. Each cabin is furnished with bunk beds, sink, toilet, bedding, soap, and hand towels. Showers and bath towels are available.

On the evening you arrive you will enjoy a hearty meal served family-style in the Phantom Ranch Canteen. After breakfast the morning of your departure, you return via the South Kaibab Trail. The ride back up is about 7.8 miles (5.5 hours). Upon your return to the rim, you will be met by a driver who will bring you and your party back to the Bright Angel Lodge.

If you have special dietary needs, such as glucose intolerance or food allergies, please advise the reservation agent at the time of booking. Phantom Ranch will do their best to accommodate all special requests.

One-night ride (available year-round)

  • $705.13 for the first person or 2 people for $1226.40.
    • Each additional person is $542.65.
  • Phantom Ranch accommodations.
  • Sack lunch, steak dinner, and breakfast (June 1st to August 31st 5:00am breakfast; September 1st to May 31st 6:30am breakfast).
  • Rates are subject to change without notice.
  • All rates quoted in U.S. Dollars and include applicable taxes.

Two-night ride (available November to March only)

  • $1028.98 for the first person or 2 people for $1690.22.
    • Each additional person is $704.00.
  • Phantom Ranch accommodations.
  • Breakfast and sack lunch for both days.
  • Steak dinner on the first night and stew dinner on the second night.
  • Rates are subject to change without notice.
  • All rates quoted in U.S. Dollars and include applicable taxes.

We provide a small plastic bag (approximately the size of a 10-pound bag of ice) for essential toiletries, extra clothing, swimsuit, etc. Duffel service is available for additional personal items at an additional charge. Duffel service must be reserved and purchased in advance. In order to avoid late fees or charges for extra duffels, duffels must be dropped off on time and must meet weight and dimension requirements. Guest is responsible for providing their own duffel. C-pap machines may be carried in by duffel service, or in the mule saddlebag, depending on the size. Please advise the booking agent if you will have a C-pap machine.

All riders must be present to check-in at the Bright Angel Lodge’s transportation desk preferably the day before the ride or at least 90 minutes before departure time. All riders must be at the stone corral, across from the Bright Angel Trail Head, in Grand Canyon Village 15 minutes before the designated time given at check-in.


Additional Information

Our mules are thoroughly trained, and are well adapted to the unique environment and work situation at Grand Canyon. Although we have over 100 years of experience working with mules, they are animals and not always predictable. The restrictions we place on our rides are intended for safety and to avoid distracting or disturbing the mules. There are always elements of risk due to trail conditions, other trail users, and sudden appearances of wildlife native to Grand Canyon. While serious accidents or injury seldom occur, risk is minimized by carefully following the trail guide’s instructions. All riders must sign a risk acknowledgment agreement before taking the ride.

  • Rider must be at least 9 years old.
  • Riders must be in good physical condition.
  • Phantom Ranch: Riders must weigh less than 200 pounds (90 kg), fully dressed.
  • Canyon Vistas: Riders must weigh less than 225 pounds (102 kg), fully dressed.
  • Riders must be at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall (1.44 meters).
  • Each rider must be able to speak and understand fluent English.
  • Riders should not be afraid of heights or large animals.
  • Riders age 17 and under (unless emancipated) must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older (or emancipated).
  • Long sleeve shirts, long pants, broad brim hats, and close-toed shoes are required.
  • Ski caps and gloves are recommended for winter riders.
  • Rider’s height must be proportionate to his or her weight.

Mule Ride Departures

Check-in: riders should call 928-638-3283 to confirm their reservations 2 days prior to the ride. This will allow us to inform you of any weather or trail conditions that may affect your trip.

We strongly urge you to check in at the Bright Angel transportation desk the day before your trip. By doing so, we can prepare you in advance so you can be ready to go the following day. If you are unable to check in the day before, you must check in by 5:45 am the day of the ride for the Phantom Ranch overnight ride and no less than an hour and a half prior to departure for the Canyon Vistas ride. Failure to check in on time may result in the cancellation of your reservation and forfeiture of your deposit.

Standby Waitlist for Rides

Persons arriving at the Grand Canyon without mule reservations can place their names on a waitlist for the three hour Canyon Vistas ride or overnight trip. Every day, Bright Angel Transportation Desk starts a wait list for the following day. Names are taken IN PERSON only starting at 6:00 a.m., and over the phone at 7:30 a.m.

During the winter it is reasonably easy to obtain the mule ride; however, summer visitors may encounter long waitlists. Please inquire at the Bright Angel Transportation and Activities desk to get information regarding the current waitlist.

Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch is a comfortable oasis nestled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The friendly staff at Phantom Ranch stands ready to ensure your comfort and share with you the wonders of this unique wilderness location. Learn more about Phantom Ranch.

As part of our world-famous mule rides, we’re happy to provide the following items to make the most of your experience: a new canteen when you check in that you get to keep when you’re done; and for our Phantom Ranch overnight mule riders, a small plastic bag to put your overnight things in for transport to Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch guests will want to take clothes to change into once they arrive at the ranch. For all mule rides, we require that hats, cameras, glasses, and sunglasses be secured to your person–see below!

Required Items for Your Ride

  • Wide-Brimmed Hat (April through October only): The hat must tie underneath your chin – we have string or you can buy a hat at the Transportation and Activities Desk. Ball caps are not allowed, as they do not provide enough coverage.  In the winter months (November-March), a warm hat that fits snugly to your head is required to protect from the cold.
  • Long-Sleeved Shirt: Lightweight in the summer to protect from sunburn and dehydration. Wear a tank top or T-shirt underneath if you like. In the winter, a long-sleeved shirt combined with sweaters or sweatshirts.
  • Long Pants: No shorts or capri pants.
  • Smooth, hard soled, closed toe shoes, similar to a cowboy boot, are recommended: In the summer, tennis shoes are acceptable. Flip flops are not allowed. For the winter, shoes that provide insulation from the cold, such as a winter boot, are highly recommended. Shoes with a heavy tread are never encouraged, as their tread may get caught in the stirrups.

Recommended for Your Ride

  • One compact camera, or one pair of binoculars per person: They must be on a strap or string around your neck, leaving your hands free. A cellphone can be used as a camera, as long as it has a neck strap and you leave it on silent.
  • Rain Pants: Experience has taught us that when it’s cold, wet, and windy, waterproof and windproof pants keep you warm and dry.
  • Gloves: Recommended from October through May.
  • Swimsuit/Shorts/Water Sandals: For Phantom Ranch riders, Bright Angel Creek is perfect to get in and cool off from April through October.
  • Scarf or Bandanna: Year-round. Cotton for summer, wool or silk for winter.
  • Layered Clothing: During winter months-thermal style underwear, fleece, wool shirts, sweaters, jackets, etc. for temperatures below freezing.
  • Flashlight: Many guests find a flashlight helpful on overnight trips.
  • Sunglasses: Good quality with UV protection. Eyeglasses must be secured by a string or strap.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, lip sunscreen, or moisturizer is always recommended.

Not Allowed Any Time of Year: Backpacks, waist packs, extra camera lenses, camera bags, full-sized video cameras, two-way radios, or purses. Wallets and keys should be moved from a back pocket to a front pocket so you don’t lose them on the trail (or sit on them all day, leaving an indelible impression). No talking or texting allowed on cell phones during the ride.

Available at Phantom Ranch

Guests spending the night at Phantom Ranch often wish to purchase a variety of items for sale at the bottom of the canyon, including beer and wine, snacks, stamps, post cards, T-shirts, first aid supplies, and toiletries. Major credit cards and cash are accepted, but personal checks are not. Cash is best.

Bright Angel Gift Shop

The gift shop at Bright Angel Lodge has an assortment of essential hiker and mule rider items, such as first aid kits, blister treatment, hand and foot warmers, Chill Skins, phone lassos and electrolyte replacement items.  Be sure to stock up so you are well prepared for your Grand Canyon adventure!