National Park #1 Planning: Grand Canyon

My in-laws are visiting for three weeks to spend time with the girls and help us push out daycare for a few more weeks. My father-in-law got in touch with me and Sean a few weeks ago and floated the idea of making a trip to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is the only thing on my mother-in-law’s bucket list, so it seemed like it would be a great way to kill two birds with one stone and start our National Parks adventure off in style.

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We are going to try and keep a similar format to each park post so we can create some continuity through our adventures. We’ll post a pre-trip plan with our rough itinerary asking for suggestions along the way. We’ll then recap each park with our findings and, of course, plenty of pictures.

Although we plan to camp at most of the National Parks that we visit, we’ll be staying at a hotel this time for a few reasons. First, because it’s a surprise, we can’t have them pack camping gear when Sean’s mom doesn’t think we are going camping. Second, with this trip being planned last minute, pretty much all the campsites are booked. Instead, we’ll be staying in a hotel just outside the South Rim entrance in Tusayan. It’s about a 15 minute drive from the hotel to Grand Canyon Village.  We are already coming up with plans to return for some backcountry camping ASAP though.

Travel: With the drive being about eight hours, we can leave early in the AM (we’re talking zero dark thirty – 3am ,woof) and get a big chunk of driving done until we need to feed the girls around 7am. Then another big chunk of driving to the hotel where we will feed them again. The hope is that we only have to stop for one feeding….

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Kid Factor: We know a lot of blogs highlight the National Parks and show these incredible hikes you can do. We love those blogs and follow all those social media feeds. They are what helped inspire our own little adventure.  However, we will try and come at it from a different angle – the reality of trying to explore with kids (including infants of course). We know that certain situations would be easy for adults to handle or navigate, but with infant twins, it’s a new layer of complexity. That is not to say we aren’t going to explore. That’s the whole purpose of this blog- to show that it is possible to keep exploring as your family grows and that activities aren’t as limited as they might seem at first.

Each park has its kid challenges. For the Grand Canyon in July, the kid factor has a few elements.They include sun exposure, hydration/dehydration, and the heat.

We’ll be transporting the girls around in their stroller when walking the rim trails, but will put them in the Ergobabies when we take a short hike down into the Canyon via the South Kaibab Trail to go to Ooh Aah Point. This particular hike should take somewhere between 2 and 3 hours and follows an open ridgeline rather than the canyon walls providing some pretty spectacular views.  We opted for this hike to maximize our time in the canyon so we can get in and out before the heat of the day.  

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Ooh Aah Point (Source: http://www.arizona-leisure.com)

We aren’t able to carry the girls in a hiking carrier just yet (such as Osprey or Kelty) because they don’t meet the minimum weight requirement of 16 pounds. With only their legs dangling in the Ergobaby, we’ll be lathering their legs with sunscreen (we are currently using Aveeno Baby 55+ SPF). We are opting not to put them in pants because we know they get hot against our bodies in the Ergobabies, and that is where the comfort factor comes into play.  Keeping an eye on the forecast is critical at this point as well.  Our plan is to start the hike basically right after the sun comes up to avoid the crazy midday heat, however, if the forecast shows that it just might be way too hot regardless of the hour, then we’ll make some game time decisions to keep everyone safe.

From a hydration perspective, we are going to bring a spray bottle with water to keep their legs cool and possibly a damp washcloth to cool off their necks if they seem hot. We’ll be doing the same for ourselves, so it will be easy to remember to do.  We will also be bringing extra formula in case they need a little more fluid than usual.  You aren’t supposed to give babies under 6 months additional water as they get all the hydration they need from breastmilk or formula and additional water be too much for their little kidneys at this age.  However, we spoke with our pediatrician knowing that it can get very hot and she said that if it’s sweltering, we can give them one ounce of water between their feedings but that’s it.  This should be a last resort – we’re taking every precaution to keep them cool and comfortable.

Kid-tivities:  Our little ladies aren’t quite ready for the kid-tivities yet. In doing our research, though, we came across some pretty awesome things that kids will get a kick out of.  The Trail of Time starts at the Yavapai Geology Museum and ends at the Grand Canyon Village.  Each meter represents one MILLION years of the Grand Canyon’s history!  Pretty cool to learn how this amazing canyon came to be.  There are so many great cultural and historical things for kids to learn and experience – check out the NPS website for ideas as well.

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Trail of Time map (source: http://tot.unm.edu/use_it.html

We can’t wait to get there and get our first park under our belts as a family. Have you been to Grand Canyon? What was your favorite part?

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