Carol Brady cleared up a bit of confusion long ago in TV land when Alice asked her if “the bunch” could reach the base of the Grand Canyon by car. With a kind smile, she corrected her: “You can’t, Alice. We’re going down by mules.”
Now, you may not be driving the same ’71 station wagon that the Bradys drove on their trek to the canyon, but more than 40 years later you can still traverse the trail atop a mule. The tradition goes back to the first mule ride in 1887. For many years, the Fred Harvey Company offered the rides exclusively. Xanterra, which provides the rides today, took over in 1968. Over the years, mules have helped more than 600,000 people descend the Grand Canyon.
There are day trips available, but if you want to do it Brady-style (all-out), Xanterra offers an overnight ride from its stables to Phantom Ranch—a 21-mile, 12-hour trip over two days. Your equine companion takes you through the rocky cliffs of the inner gorge before crossing the suspension bridge that leads you to your cabin. There, at the only sub-rim lodging facility, you’ll enjoy a steak dinner and a shower (optional, for those who want to really “rough it”) before you travel back the next day on the recently restored South Kaibab trail.
Reservations are accepted up to 13 months prior, and advanced bookings are encouraged, especially for the popular overnight ride. So you might want to start planning for next summer’s vacation now.
$123 per person for the Abyss Overlook, $507 per person for the Overnight Ride to Phantom Ranch (dining and lodging included), 10 Albright St., Grand Canyon, Arizona; 888-297-5757. Visit GrandCanyonLodges.com to see other packages and prices.