Grand Canyon Rim to Rim with kids: Relaxing at Phantom Ranch
If you’d like to see our 4,750 mile road trip route for our Utah National Parks and Grand Canyon Adventure, click here.
Reaching Phantom Ranch after our two day Grand Canyon rim to rim with kids hike down the North Kaibab Trail was exciting. The 14 or so miles we hiked to get here had been humbling because we were pretty tired even with 7 mile days, and so far our hike had been downhill! We wondered what was it going to be like going up? The twins also had this weird sunburn-like, painful and scaly rash that had developed over their calves that was really bothering them. The constant heat was tiring too. It was almost 120 degrees in the sun and about 95 in the shade. All in all we were pretty beat and bedraggled so it was such a relief to arrive to the Phantom Ranch bustle.
Nothing better than Lemonade and Frozen Snickers Bars!
The Phantom Ranch Canteen sells cold drinks, coffee, apples, bagels, candy and my personal favorite- frozen snickers, and we enjoyed sitting inside the cool room playing cards and games while drinking lemonade and iced tea. The also sell other necessities like blister treatment and sunscreen just in case you may have forgotten something. It was pretty crowded here considering we had seen very few people on the trail. People arrive to Phantom Ranch three ways- hiking in, riding in on mules or rafting in on the Colorado River and all three groups were here enjoying the air conditioning and cold drinks. It was nice to sit and chat with different people and hear about the adventures they were having. While I don’t think I will ever ride a mule down, a rafting trip sounds amazing!
We eventually left the canteen to head back to our site since we had to finish setting up our camp. The campground sits right alongside the Bright Angel Creek so its cold water offered a respite from the extremely hot canyon temperatures and once we left the air conditioned canteen we spent a few hours splashing around the creek in between setting up our tents and gear. We had packed our swimsuits for this purpose and you could see people doing the same thing at every site to relax and cool off.
Looks like we’re heading South!
Dave had called the reservation number from the phone at the Phantom Ranch Canteen by this time to see if we could find a place to sleep on the South Rim since we were still thinking about changing our itinerary. (This previous post describes why.) He walked back to our site to let us know he had been able to book us into the Yavapai Lodge for the next two nights. The kids still wanted to complete a rim-to-rim hike so it was settled- we would hike the entire way out of the canyon to the South Rim the next morning (!!) via the Bright Angel Trail. We would all check in to the lodge and Dave would wake up early to hike the entire rim-to-rim trail the next day to get the car and come pick us up. Sounds like a crazy plan, right? It seemed slightly so to me as well but we decided we would do it anyway since everyone felt so motivated. Our plan was to wake up by 5 and get on the trail early and just do whatever it took to get up the 9 miles. Even though we were all tired, we were excited as well and made sure to spend the afternoon relaxing and taking it easy so we would have enough energy for the next day.
We spent the entire afternoon playing in the creek which did wonders to rejuvenate us all. Around 4, there was a ranger program being given in the late afternoon and we all walked over to attend. The program was about the split twig figures found throughout the region made by ancient canyon dwellers. The ranger also had materials for each of us to try making our own split twig figures which was really fun. I actually still have mine in our china cabinet as a tiny memory of our trip.
Grand Canyon Junior Ranger: Phantom Rattler
The kids also turned in the Phantom Rattler packets which we had picked up when we first arrived. This is a special Grand Canyon Junior Ranger badge that can only be earned at Phantom Ranch. Since it is not especially easy to get to the bottom of the canyon, they earn a special patch and for this reason, the kids value this Junior Ranger patch the most over all their other ones.
Since it was still early we walked over to the Colorado River to explore. On our way we passed the corrals that house the mules who carry people and supplies down to Phantom Ranch. Several deer were hanging around the corrals probably to get the food and water left out for the mules. Not too far from here was the mighty Colorado. The river is huge and it was running fast so it was an awesome sight. We walked the loop that crosses the silver bridge to the other side and then returned by the black bridge and took in the beautiful views.
Good Night, Phantom Ranch!
After our walk, I made our dinner which was minestrone soup that I had dehydrated at home along with butterscotch instant pudding made with powdered milk. The kids were almost too tired to eat and I had to practically force feed Garrett who was falling asleep in his bowl. Dave took Sophie and Naomi to the evening ranger talk while I helped Maya and Garrett get ready for sleep and then worked to get things as ready as possible for our hike the next day. We loved our day at Phantom Ranch. The next time we hike into the Grand Canyon, I will make sure to add an extra day here as there are several day hike trails that we were just too tired to take. I set my alarm and we all fell asleep anticipating our challenging day tomorrow.
Have you ever been to Phantom Ranch? What did you think?