Detailed South Rim Mule Ride Info
(As provided by Zanterra)
Although many do, neither Ken nor I have taken the mule train into or out of the canyon. Details about mule trips are avilable on the nps website. Below is additional information about mule transport, should you be interested.



Our 7 hour Plateau Point mule ride departs daily from the Stone Corral at the head of Bright Angel Trail and is the most challenging trip we offer. Brief stops are made to rest the mules every 30-45 minutes, during which time it will be possible to take pictures but not dismount. Water and restroom facilities are not available until Indian Gardens, about 2½ hours down the trail. Following a 15-20 minute rest stop at Indian Garden, the trip proceeds across the Tonto Plateau to Plateau Point offering riders a dramatic and panoramic view of the Canyon and the Colorado River 1,300 feet below. The trip returns up the Bright Angel Trail another 2½ to 3 hours where you will be back to the Stone Corral by mid-afternoon. The box lunch at Indian Gardens is included. The rate is $126.88 per person for both adults and children.

The Phantom Ranch mule ride is an overnight excursion offered all year round. This ride takes appx. 5 hours each way. And includes the following:

  • Lunch at Indian Gardens
  • Steak dinner at Phantom Ranch
  • Overnight accommodations in a private cabin for your party. The cabin includes up to 2 sets of bunk beds (depending on the number of people), all linens (except washcloth), cold water sink, toilet and complimentary soap and shampoo. The shower facilities are in a separate cabin.
  • Breakfast in the morning and the ride back up.
  • A small plastic bag, the size of a 15 pound bag of ice, is supplied for your personal belongings.

The two-night excursion is offered November 15th through March 31st. It includes the following:

  • Lunch at Indian Gardens
  • Steak dinner at Phantom Ranch on the first night
  • Breakfast each morning
  • Stew dinner the second night
  • 2 nights accommodations in a private cabin for your party
  • A small plastic bag, the size of a 15 pound bag of ice, is supplied for your personal belongings

Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch is a comfortable oasis nestled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The Ranch was designed by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and completed in 1922. The rustic cabins and main lodge, built of wood and native stone, are a reminder of days gone by and do not intrude on the natural beauty and solitude of the setting. Phantom Ranch can only be reached by mule, by foot or by rafting the Colorado River, so its guests are indeed an exclusive group. The friendly staff of the Ranch stand ready to ensure your comfort and share with you the wonders of this unique wilderness location.


  • Each rider must weight less than 200-lbs. (91k) fully dressed and, yes, we do weigh everyone!
  • Weight: Riders must weigh less than 200 lbs. (91k) fully dressed at weight check-in. Remember that your clothing and gear will add at least 8 lbs. to your body weight. Don’t assume we’ll ignore an extra pound or two & let you ride. We won’t. Even below the 200-lb. limit; your weight must be proportionate to your height to ensure comfort and safety. If you are significantly overweight, we cannot let you ride for your own safety.
  • Each rider must be at least 4’ 7” in height, regardless of previous riding experience.
  • Height: Although there are no age restrictions, all riders must be at least 4’7” (1.38m) tall as measured at check in time. A last minute disqualification is a terrible disappointment to a child so we urge you to check their heights carefully. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Each rider must be able to speak and understand fluent English- for safety’s sake.
  • All riders must be fluent in ENGLISH in order to be able to understand the Trail Guide’s instructions. English competency will be checked upon arrival.
  • Each rider must be in good physical condition
  • While many potential riders will admit they are not in shape to hike in the Grand Canyon, they fail to recognize that riding requires upper and lower body strength and good overall muscular condition. Back and knee strain emerge after just a short time in the saddle. Riders with heart or respiratory problems should carefully consider the rigors they will encounter and the fact that the trips begin and end at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level. Potential riders with physical or mental disabilities should contact us in writing so that we can evaluate the situation on an individual basis.
  • No rider may be pregnant.
  • We require any rider with a physical condition that may affect his/her ability to make this trip to inform us prior to departure. If you have any doubt, we strongly urge you to consult your physician prior to making reservations. We reserve the option to disqualify a rider if, in our judgement, a rider’s safety may be jeopardized. As the Livery Manager puts it, “We’d rather make you mad than hurt you.”
  • Riders should not be afraid of heights or large animals.
  • The trails are quite literally carved out of the side of the Canyon and the drops are very steep. Although surefooted, most of our mules tend to walk on the outside of the trail. Further, mules are big animals and should not be confused with donkeys or burros which are smaller. A mule is often larger than a horse and can be quite intimidating to first-time riders. If you are disturbed by large animals or heights, we recommend you reconsider taking the mule trip.

Is The Trip Dangerous?

Our mules are carefully selected for strength, endurance, good temperament and gentleness. They are thoroughly trained by our guides so that they are well adapted to the unique environment and work situation of the Grand Canyon. Although we have 95 years experience in working with mules, they are animals and not always predictable. The restrictions we place on our riders are intended for their safety and to avoid distracting or disturbing the mules. There is always an element of risk due to trail conditions, other trail users, and the sudden appearance of wildlife native to the Grand Canyon. Serious accident or injury seldom occurs, and the risk is minimized by carefully following the Trail Guide’s instructions, such as:

  • Keep your mule no further than 3 to 5 feet behind the mule ahead of you. Mules will run to catch up, so stay close.
  • Do not mount or dismount with out direct assistance from the Trail Guide. Stay on the mule.
  • Advise the Trail Guide of any need (water, removal of jackets, etc.)
  • Safety is improved when a team effort is used. Help others. Stay safe.
  • Stay Close, Stay On, Stay Safe!

By following instructions and listening carefully to the Trail Guide you will join the thousands who count the mule trip as “the experience of a lifetime”.

What To Take

Please review the following list of items. While some are optional, all are recommended depending on the weather or the season.


  • Broad-brimmed hat, cowboy style, with attached securing string (available for purchase at Transportation Desk), April 1 through October 31.
  • Long Pants made of sturdy material such as denim or wool (shorts are not permitted).
  • Long-sleeved shirt, lightweight, for summer rides.
  • Canteen provided at check-in. We permit ours only.
  • Solid shoes, closed toe.


  • Raingear (available for rent). No ponchos permitted.
  • Camera or binoculars- NOT BOTH. Must hang around neck: cases must be attachable; no spare lenses unless packed separately. No large VCR cameras.
  • Footgear: Preference should be for comfortable footwear, sturdy, with smooth hard soles. However, any solid type of shoe is acceptable. We discourage tennis shoes and disallow sandals, flip flops or open-toe shoes. High grip soles (Vibram style) are not recommended. Warm shoes/ boots in the winter A MUST!
  • Gloves: Recommended during the winter schedule or inclement weather.
  • Swimsuit: For overnight trip, summer schedule.
  • Scarf or Bandanna: Year-round. Cotton for summer; wool or silk for winter. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Layered clothing: Winter schedule, thermal-style underwear, cotton or wool shirts, sweaters, wind breakers, etc. for temperatures below freezing.
  • Sunglasses: Good quality, ultraviolet light reduction.
  • Clothing: A complete change for Phantom Ranch guests.
  • Toilet articles: For Phantom Ranch guest.
  • Flashlight: For over night trips.

Check-In: All riders are required to check in at the Transportation Desk at the Bright Angel Lodge prior to departure by 6a.m. in the summer and 6:45-7 a.m. in the winter the day of the trip. Failure to check in will result in the cancellation of your reservation. We strongly urge you, whenever possible, to check in the day before your trip. By doing so we can prepare you in advance so you can be ready to go for the following day.

After check in, all riders should report to the Stone Corral at the Bright Angel Trail at 8:00a.m. during the spring, summer and fall; 9:00 a.m. in the winter. Times are subject to change

Standby Waiting List
Persons arriving at the Grand Canyon National Park without mule reservations can place their names on a waiting list for the one or two-day trip. Many times cancellations make mules available and we may be able to accommodate you. During the winter schedule it is easier to obtain the mule trip; however, summer visitors may encounter long waiting lists.

Those interested should go to the Bright Angel Transportation Desk as soon after arrival as possible to place your name on the waiting list and follow instructions carefully. The waiting list begins the morning prior to the ride. (Today’s list is for tomorrow’s ride only, etc. Names accepted in person only.)

If you are interested in making reservations, please resubmit your request and please include the following:

1) Name, address, phone number of guest.

2) Date requesting trip (alternate dates if possible).

3) Which mule ride you are interested in.

4) Number of riders going (adults/children with ages).

5) Please let us know that you are aware of restrictions and are able to comply with them.

6) We require full prepayment (for each person) within 14 days. You may pay with Discover, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB or check or money order.

7) When securing a reservation (through email) with a credit card, we will need the following:

  • Credit card holders first and last name (must be the same as guest staying)
  • Billing address and phone number (with area code) of credit card
  • Credit card number and expiration date
  • The amount you wish to authorize (at least equal to the deposit requested)
  • Your email address or fax number are optional

8) If you choose to use a credit card please be aware our EMAIL IS NOT A SECURE ENVIRONMENT.

9) You may also call Central Reservations at (303) 297-2757 with your card number.


Within 14 days from the day you make the reservation, you can mail a check or money order to:

AMFAC Parks and Resorts
Attn: Deposits
14001 E Iliff Ave Suite 600
Aurora, CO 80014

Phantom Ranch and Plateau Point mule rides are non-commissionable for Travel Agents.

All Tour reservations require full payment in advance through Central Reservations.

All rates are subject to approval by the National Park Service and the new rates are not always established at the time of booking. As a result, we quote the current applicable rate. When we have new rates approved, we will attempt to contact you by phone, mail or email to advise you of the new rate. Your payment will guarantee the reservation only, it does not guarantee the rate.

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