Part of a day trip, the mules will carry you on a seven-hour ride to Plateau Point on the Bright Angel Trail. Plateau Point offers a panoramic view of the canyon and the Colorado River.
However, there are mule trips for those of you who want to head into the canyon for a night or two with a stay at Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch, the only lodging accommodation on the floor of the canyon, offers dormitory rooms and rustic cabins. They serve dinner and breakfast to mule trip riders. The overnight trips generally take riders down the Bright Angel Trail and up the South Kaibab Trail.
A mule trip, however, is not like taking a bus tour to see the sights. Remember you’re RIDING those mules.
The trails into the Grand Canyon are steep, and they can be hazardous. The sure-footed mules have been carrying tourists and supplies into the canyon for years, and they have a great safety record, but you need to pay attention to keep it that way. You will be led by wranglers who know the mules and the canyon well, so be sure to listen to what they tell you.
These mules are tall – and I do mean tall. In fact, they are larger than some horses. The mules are trained to walk on the outside of the trail – away from the canyon wall, so they don’t brush up against the rocks with the supplies they are carrying, or the tourists who are riding. This also means, unfortunately, that you will also be on the outside edge of the trail. Hikers who pass you are expected to hug the rock wall and let the mules pass on the outside. Get the picture? Tall mules, walking on the outside will leave you hanging over the Grand Canyon. Afraid of heights?
You don’t have to be an expert rider to take a Grand Canyon Mule Trip. The wranglers will teach you the basics and watch over you. Even if you’re an experienced rider, be forewarned: you will probably be pretty sore after a five or six hour ride down to the floor of the canyon.
To take a mule ride, you must not weigh more than 200 pounds (91 kilograms). You will be weighed with your clothes on. You must also be at least four feet, seven inches (1.38 meters) tall, and you must be able to speak and understand English so you can understand the wranglers. Their instructions and warnings are vital to a safe and fun trip.
Even with all these caveats, these trips are very popular. Make reservations well in advance, especially during popular times. They accept reservations about a year in advance.
This may not qualify as a way to play cowboy, but a Grand Canyon Mule Trip will be something you’ll never forget.
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