Stretching for over 270 miles is a trench in the earth that is up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep. Visiting this impressive canyon is awe-inspiring. Almost indescribable. It certainly leaves me breathless every time.
Located in northern Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most famous US national parks. Theodore Roosevelt declared it “the one great sight which every American should see.” So in 1919, the National Park Service took over preservation and protection of the land around the Grand Canyon.
Although the depth of the Grand Canyon can be explored to connect both rims, for most visitors the park is split into two parts. The north rim and the south rim. Over 90% of the park’s visitors visit the south rim. The south rim is more developed and easier for most visitors to access due to its proximity to main roads and cities. However, on the north rim there are additional great views and a wider variety of above-rim trails. Adventurous visitors can also hike into the depths of the canyon or run the rapids along 225 miles of the Colorado River.
If you have read our National Parks and Your Pet post written in 2017 (prior to the start of our National Parks adventure), you will notice that we only listed 6 National Parks as pet-friendly. These were the parks that had online policies posted that allowed you to explore the majority of the park with your pet.
- Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
- Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Grand Canyon National Park was not on this list, but it should be. Sure, if you want to hike below the rim, you need to leave your pup behind. And if you want to explore the north rim, you will be significantly limited. Dogs are only allowed on the Bridle Trail on the North Rim. But for the vast majority of visitors, who are coming in through the south rim anyway, this park actually has a lot to offer for those visiting with pets.
Just like many of the other national parks, Grand Canyon National Park allows leashed dogs in the campgrounds and developed areas. Although not allowed on the shuttle buses, visitors with dogs are allowed to hike the named trails above the South Rim. While this didn’t seem like a lot when reading the website, functionally, it turned out to be several miles of trails with amazing views of the Grand Canyon. We certainly didn’t feel like we were missing out when we took the dogs to this national park.
If you want to take a day hike into the canyon, there is even a south rim kennel available. Find out more information about kennel services at Grand Canyon’s website.
There are campgrounds at both the north and south rim. On a past trip without the pups, we camped at the Mather campground and had a lovely experience. However, on this trip, we utilized the free dispersed camping in the surrounding national forest, Kaibob National Forest.
We spoke with a ranger of Kaibob National Forest prior to arriving and he recommended a couple of locations near the Grand Canyon that were open for dispersed camping. We ended up taking Forest Road 302 about ¼ mile away from the main highway leading to Grand Canyon National Park. There were a plethora of pull-offs and existing campsites to choose from. All were wooded with conifers. We even saw some elk. Many of the campsites were full, but there was decent spacing between them. We loved it and wished we could have spent more time there. I managed to forget to take a picture, but it was a lovely free campsite.
Activities in the Surrounding Areas
Prior to arriving at Grand Canyon National Park, we took advantage of the Sedona area of Arizona. Only a couple of hours from the Grand Canyon, Sedona is a destination in its own right.
We stayed at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. It was another nice campground with showers. The hiking trails had limited elevation change and were relatively short in length. There were a few “lagoons” that made for some nice scenery to hike around.
Our highlight in the area was our hike to Devil’s Bridge. I have this post by DogMomDays to thank for our decision to add this hike to our list.
Devil’s Bridge is a great trail in a beautiful area. There are a couple of ways to approach the trail itself, but we parked near the Dry Creek Trailhead and hiked Chuckwagon trail to the Devil’s Bridge Trail. The day was moderately hot, but there was a nice breeze. Make sure to bring plenty of water and don’t hike when it is too hot out. Heat can be deadly! Most of the trail was relatively easy, but there is a natural staircase near the bridge. Glia handled the stairs no problem. She is basically a mountain goat. Our smaller dog Sasha is only 12 pounds. She did most of it herself but did need help on a couple of small sections.
The bridge itself is an impressive feature. Walking out across it was not as bad as I thought it might be, but it certainly took a little courage for me to consider walking across it. We had plenty of time to admire the view as we waited for others to take their photographs. We ended up leaving the dogs off the bridge as we didn’t want them to pull at the wrong time on a narrow ledge. Safety first. But overall, this was one of our favorite hikes on the trip. More information about this hike can be found at the forest service website.
If you are considering taking your pups to the Grand Canyon, know that you have to stay above the rim unless you utilize the kennels. However, there is still so much to see above the rim. And don’t forget to utilize the national forest just outside the park. If you have more than a couple of days, consider a side trip to Sedona.
Have you visited this area of Arizona with your pups? Leave us your thoughts below.