Grand Canyon Family Vacation

“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”


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The famous chasm carved out by the Colorado River is the headliner of this Grand Canyon family vacation but with all Northern Arizona has to offer, it is not necessarily even the highlight.

At the Grand Canyon, we’ll gaze over the rim to the depths below, looking at the millions of years of effort created by the Colorado River. We’ll then rent bicycles and ride along the South Rim’s 13 miles of paved roads and separate paths, including the Hermit Road Greenway. We’ll explore the Visitor Center and learn about the Grand Canyon’s archeology, human history, and conservation.

But Northern Arizona is a magical place filled with so much more than the Grand Canyon. Walnut Canyon National Monument. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. The Red Rocks of Sedona. Slide Rock State Park. We’ll explore it all. And while Arizona is hot in the summer, we’ll spend our nights in the cute small town of Sedona, at Grand Canyon National Park, and in the university town of Flagstaff, higher in elevation and thus significantly cooler than in the lowlands around Phoenix.

We love this area of the world. But we especially love it for a family tour because of the incredible national parks and monuments, the educational opportunities, the beautiful vistas, the outdoor activities, and the fun places to stay. Throw in lots of pool time and a bunch of youngsters born to have fun and you have a Northern Arizona and Grand Canyon Family Vacation you will never forget.

(Photo courtesy of Bright Angel Bicycles, our bike rental provider at the Grand Canyon.)

Private Tour Info

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  • Cost Per Person: $2,500
  • Single Supplement: $800
  • Private Tour Minimum: 10
  • Activities: Hiking, Bicycling, Star Viewing, and Five National or State Parks
  • Difficulty: All Abilities
  • Guides: Allan Wright

Other Info: -> Kids staying in a room with their adult(s) receive a 15% discount - not combinable with alumni discounts
-> This trip is appropriate for kids ages 5 - 18
-> Adults wishing to have their own room can pay a single supplement of $800
-> Aunts, uncles, and grandparents are welcome, too!

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Trip Highlights

  • The Grand Canyon - by bicycle on a closed off road!
  • Slide the natural waterslide at Slip Rock State Park
  • Hike the rim of an actual meteor crater and a separate volcanic crater
  • Sunset in the red rocks of Sedona
  • Star and planet viewing at Lowell Observatory

We meet in Phoenix at 1:30 PM, either at the airport or a downtown hotel if you arrive early. It will be hot in late June in Phoenix but we are headed north to higher elevation and lower temps. In two hours we'll be checking into our hotel in famous Sedona, land of the red rocks and (for those who believe) spiritual vortexes. We'll immediately cool off in the pool before departing for an early evening visit to Red Rocks State Park for a short hike and picnic dinner.


It will be a busy day, so we depart relatively early at 8:00 AM for the Grand Canyon. However, on the way we'll stop at Slide Rock State Park which runs along Oak Creek, the premier recreation area of Sedona. The featured activity of this park is the natural rock slide, 80 feet of slippery rock under Oak Creek. We then load up and finish the drive north to the Grand Canyon. Just looking over the rim will give you chills but we'll also rent bicycles to cycle on the closed-to-cars Hermit Road. The Grand Canyon is a destination everyone needs to see at least once.


After breakfast, we'll do the Trail of Time walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon. With rocks placed in time order along the trail, we'll learn about the geology of the canyon while viewing it from above. We'll say goodbye to the Grand Canyon and hello to another park, this one formed by a volcano, at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Around the year 1085, the ground erupted in a shooting geyser of flaming rock. Much of the material cooled in the air and fell as cinders, forming a 1000-foot high volcanic cone. We'll also see "lava bombs" of rock that shot out of the ground and huge lava flows that swept over the ground. How would you have liked to have been one of those early peoples living in the area at the time? We'll learn about this amazing event and take a hike up an older, smaller volcano that will give us excellent views of the region. When we are done, we'll drive back south to the fun university city of Flagstaff, one of our favorite towns in the entire west, and check into our family-friendly hotel. In the evening we'll split up, with kids doing a fun Mexican restaurant while adults enjoy something a little nicer.


After breakfast, we'll shuttle a short 20 minutes to Walnut Canyon National Monument. The Grand is not the only canyon in northern Arizona. Gashing through the rolling high plateau, Walnut Canyon is 20 miles long and hosted permanent dwellings from about the year 600. Five hundred years after that, communities built cliff dwellings within the jagged walls of the canyon, which we can still see this day 900 years later. We'll explore the history of these early inhabitants of this land on a walk into this beautiful area and then have a picnic lunch in the park. In the afternoon, we'll shuttle to Meteor Crater, "the world's best preserved meteor impact site", which was formed about 50,000 years ago with a blast equivalent to 20,000 pounds of TNT. Later that afternoon we'll again have pool time (or an optional hike). Back in town, we'll have a final dinner together at Beaver Street Brewery, one of Flagstaff's fun eateries with a nice outdoor seating area, before meeting again to tour Lowell Observatory and using their five telescopes to learn about the stars and planets - a treat for those living in cities who rarely ever see the true night sky.


We are on our way back to Phoenix and the airport. But on the way we have one final stop, at Verde Valley Archeology Center. Here we learn how archeologists do the work that creates the results we have seen in our recent explorations. Afterwards you can grab an early lunch on your own and then we'll drop you off at the airport in Phoenix by 2:00 PM for your flight home.

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Trip Accommodations


Located just outside Sedona's busy center, this resort is perfect for families. Each unit is a self-contained condo, with different sizes available depending on your family. Plus we can enjoy ping pong, a playground, horseshoes, and four outdoor pools!


Yavapai Lodge is one of several lodges on the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park. It is centrally located, within short shuttle rides of all the main sights, and within walking distance to a store, restaurant, and post office. Please note our lodging in the park is dependent on getting group reservations, so could change to another lodge in or near the park.


This hotel targeted to families is the number one rated hotel in Flagstaff. A mini chain with only four locations (Flagstaff, Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, and the original in Little America, Wyoming). The hotel has a huge pool, horseshoes, volleyball,  badminton, and playground, so plenty to do when we have down time. It is also famous for its ice cream cones!

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Arrival & Departure

We meet you at 1:30 PM on Day One at the airport in Phoenix (or slightly earlier at a local hotel if you arrive the day before). We arrive back to the airport at 2:00 PM on our final day. This allows you to fly into and out of Phoenix without taking additional days of vacation.

What's Included?
  • One or two Zephyr guides accompany each trip.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If kids stay in your room, they get a discount of 15% off the tour price. If you are a solo adult in your family group, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All meals except two lunches are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
  • All trail fees and permits are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED Beverages, two lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses, and travel to and from the destination.

Arizona is hot in the summer. But we'll be at higher and thus cooler elevations. Flagstaff, where we spend much of our time, has a hot but manageable average daily high of 85 degrees during the time period we are there. Because we are on the high forest plateau, nighttime temperatures drop 30 degrees and are a very pleasant 53 degrees on average. July and August get afternoon monsoon rains but we should be there before these hit, likely leaving us with blue, clear skies.

Type of People Who Will Enjoy This Tour

Kids of any age are welcome but this trip is most appropriate for kids five through 18. We as guides can vouch that kids are the true experts at having fun and it makes this tour special for everyone. It takes kids about five minutes to go from unknowns to fast friends! This trip includes activities that both kids and adults will enjoy, sometimes together and sometimes separately. We know you love your little darlings, but we realize it is nice to have an occasional break for an adult drink or longer hike — our guides are more than happy to oblige you in this! We plan a couple of separate activities and dinners for kids and adults (your older teenagers can make up their minds which group they would like to join these times!). Keep in mind that our definition of family is quite liberal: traditional nuclear families, single parent households, and aunts, uncles, and grandparents are all welcome.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.


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