Trail Riding in the Grand Canyon

There’s perhaps no better way to see the Grand Canyon—one of the seven wonders of the natural world and a national park since 1919—than through the ears of a sure-footed mule.

The Grand View

The only way to descend the canyon in the saddle is through one of the permitted mule outfitters in the park, but there’s enough horse camping available around each rim of the Grand Canyon so you can enjoy your own horses and get down inside the canyon on a mule.

Grand Canyon National Park & Kaibab National Forest

Grand Canyon Rides

May 15 to October 15 (North Rim); Year-round (South Rim)

Enjoy the view of the Grand Canyon from the back of a sure-footed mule. Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

The Facts: 2,300 | The elevation change, in feet, you’ll experience on the North Rim’s Grand Canyon Mule Ride to the Supai Tunnel. 

Outfitters work hard to provide mules suited for people of all riding levels. Courtesy of Crystal Mortensen, Canyon Trail Rides

You can take your own horses to camp and ride through Kaibab National Forest, around the rim of the Grand Canyon (home of the Kaibab squirrel, found only in the ponderosa pine forests surrounding the canyon). But when it comes time to entering the canyon (and trust us, you don’t want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience), you’ll need to book a trip through one of the mule-ride guides, who need a special permit to enter the canyon. Don’t wait, though—these rides book up to a year in advance for many of the outfits.

The well-trained mules are as sturdy as they are gentle, and they’re sizable enough to carry most riders. Mules have packed 600,000 people into the Grand Canyon since rides were first offered in 1887.

Don’t Miss This

Take an overnight ride with 1. World Famous Mule Rides deep into the canyon from the South Rim, staying overnight at the 2. Phantom Ranch—nestled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. 3. If you’d like an even more remote experience, try the Grand Canyon Mule Rides on the North Rim—some 90 miles from the nearest town of Kanab.

Stop at the 4. Big E Steakhouse for a ribeye after a day’s ride in the park, and cool off with a drink at the ice-cream soda fountain inside the 5. Bright Angel Lodge.

While you can’t ride your own horses down into the canyon, the views from the rims are worth it. Bring your own horses and camp at the 6. Mather Campground on the South Rim or the 7. North Rim Horse Camp on the other side of the canyon, but remember to check in with park rangers to obtain any required permits.

Get updated health papers and a negative Coggins test certificate for each horse you’re bringing to camp. 

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