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  1. #1

    Default Family friendly trip to Grand Canyon

    I want to take my family with five small children on a road trip from Albuquerque to the Grand Canyon. We have five days and would like to keep a pretty tight budget. My thought is to drive early in the morning Abq west to the petrified forest, have a long picnic and stretching time for the kids then drive to flagstaff. I figured a little dinner and hotel pool would be enough for the first night. The next day I was thinking slide rock park for the majority of the day and then drive up to page for the night. From page I would like to spend a day or two seeing the coolest Grand Canyon sights that the kids can enjoy and then drive home through the four corners area?

    I've never been to any of these areas, I am concerned about the kids being able to get to the attractions and about the whole trip being too hot...any suggestions would be great.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A More Efficient Ordering

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    On the plus side, your planned itinerary hits most of the major attractions in northeastern Arizona and the Four Corners area, but on the minus side, you are currently wasting a bit f time and gas retracing your steps, often to no avail. For starters, I'd plan to stay in the Flagstaff area while you are exploring the Grand Canyon. There are several reasons for that. First, it's closer to the Canyon than Page, saving you 100 miles of driving on each round trip to the Canyon. Secondly, there is a bit more competition for the tourist dollar in Flagstaff, meaning that you should be able to find rooms for less - you may even be eligible for a multi-night discount. Third, staying longer in one place means that the kids have one less motel room to get used to. Fourth, there is much more to see in the Flagstaff area than just Slide Rock and the Canyon, including Lowell Observatory, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and several national monuments.

    You could then make do with only two lodging needs: Flagstaff and Cortez/Durango in Colorado. From the Cortez/Durango area you can easily get to Monument Valley, Goosenecks State Park, Mesa Verde, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and the Million Dollar Highway. You'd then be within a relatively easy day's drive of home.

    Much of the area you'll be traveling through is over a mile in elevation, often as high as 8,000 ft. So while it may get warm, it shouldn't be as bad as what you'd experience if you just stayed in Albuquerque.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-06-2014 at 02:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Since it's about a day's drive from ABQ to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, you've got some good planning there.

    Petrified Forest NP and Painted Desert will take a couple of hours to drive through, if you decide to do that. This would include stopping to look at all of the petrified wood. Promise your kids (and follow through) a pool at the motel and they should be very happy.

    Slide Rock is a lot of fun as long as your kids all swim. Get there early in the day, particularly if it's a weekend, for best parking.

    Slide Rock to Page is about a 3-hour drive. You'll want to have reservations there if you plan to arrive late. (After a day at Slide Rock, that may be likely!)

    Two days at the Grand Canyon should be plenty. I'm not sure about the length of the drive to ABQ via Four Corners, though, so will leave that for someone else to comment on. You could always leave Grand Canyon in early afternoon on the 4th day and drive to Cortez, CO, then home on the 5th day.

    Too hot???? That's what A/C, swimming pools, Slide Rock are all for. Your kids will be fine. They may complain, and I sure did when I was a kid, but the thought of a pool or a fun place like Slide Rock always got me (and my kids) through it.


  4. #4


    Thanks for the quick and super helpful responses.

    I like the idea of staying in flagstaff, I am sure the all the driving will be harder on the kids, the reason I originally chose page was because of horse shoe bend and lake Powell. Since my kids are too young to do much hiking I wanted to give them memories and pictures of the stunning scenery. If we stay in flag where should we visit the canyon specifically? Is the cgi train worth the money?

    I think it will be really fun, my husband works weekends so our trip will be sun-thurs

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default South rim.

    From Flagstaff you would be visiting the South rim of the Grand canyon NP. The best way to enter the park [in my opinion] is to head north on US89 and then enter through the east entry kiosk on AZ64 to Desertview drive. This will have you follow the direction of the Colorado canyon as it carves it's way to the main rim area near the village, with lots of incredible viewpoints along the way. From this point you can ride the free shuttle bus up to Hermits rest, hopping on and off at various viewpoints. You can then exit through the south kiosk to Tusayan and take US180 to create a loop back to Flagstaff.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Children are never too young to appreciate the grandeur of Nature.

    I too would recommend staying in Flagstaff and entering via the east entrance. The Cameron Trading Post is a place you might like to stop. Think the children will like that.

    There are many short hikes which children of all ages can do. The views are so stunning, it will keep them interested. But what you must do first after arriving along Desert View Drive is go to the visitor centre and enrol your children in the Junior Ranger program. This will give them lots of activities to do, and earn them some souvenirs to take home. All of you will learn a great deal about the Canyon its history, geography and geology in an age appropriate way.

    The other thing you might get the children to do is keep their own record in the form of a journal, during this trip. This can be done at any age, and could take the form of simple sketches, a few sentences, the stubs from entry tickets, etc. All things which will remind them of the day's activities recorded in 15 or 20 mins before bedtime. (My two and a half year old grandson has a wonderful journal of his family's trip to Britain. One photo of the campground just shows the front fence, but he will tell you all about the pool behind that fence, and what fun they had. Another is his impression of the London Eye... a circle with a stick figure inside it.)


  7. Default

    The kids will love the trip, and it will be something they remember forever! I remember my parents packing us up in the minivan, I believe it was Zions National Park, and I was just excited to be somewhere new! One thing I would recommend with five kids is to have a lot of things to entertain them on the way. My aunt sent us with a bunch of dollar store gifts and games wrapped up as presents. We would get one every so often if we weren't fighting or being crazy :). "Board games quickly became an option that all of them could do not only to bond with each other,but us as parents as well.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-12-2014 at 03:59 AM. Reason: New members are not permitted to promote outside links.

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