I’m not sure how I’m going to convince you to go bike riding at the Grand Canyon, but I’m going to try. Because…I think if you can spend some time cruising along the rim trails while being regaled by the ever changing views, you will just love it like we did. On a bike you can cover longer distances and therefore find places off the beaten track away from places where people congregate. I truly felt like we had the Grand Canyon to ourselves on our bike ride. Sure, there were people on the trail, but they were few and far between. Most of the time we could stop anywhere and just take it all in by ourselves. It was so exhilarating!
We did the bulk of our bike riding on the day before Thanksgiving which was another cold, but gorgeous day. Since we didn’t bring our own bikes due to the rainy weather, our first order of business was to rent bikes at Bright Angel Bicycles near the Visitor Center at Mather Point (you have to see their video of biking the Grand Canyon, it’ll make you want to go tomorrow).
The people who worked there were so nice and super helpful. There were plenty of bikes to rent, and they fit us with really comfy (think big-cushioned seats) and easy to use bikes. All three of us really loved the bikes (the helmets, not quite as much, mine smelled strongly of hair product, wish we brought our own). Since it rained previously, my bike seat was still wet, so they fixed it using their technical skills by putting a plastic bag over the seat – it worked, no ‘wetting my pants’ look for me.
During Thanksgiving time, they don’t guarantee that they will be open (depends on the weather) so you have to call to check. If they are open, the hours are from 10 am to 4 pm. At first we thought that was kind of late for them to open, but I have to say that it’s much too cold for biking early morning anyway. My hubby called the day before and made sure that they were open and checked to see if we needed reservations (that’s what they told him to do when he called a month prior). This is a slow time of year for them, so no reservations were necessary. If you’re going on a busy day, however, you should definitely make reservations through their website (rates, types of bikes, are all clearly stated there).
One of their most useful pieces of information on their website was the bike trails map. On the other side of the map is some information about the various stops along the red bike ride (Hermits Rest route). All very interesting!
The map shows you where the bike trails are and which trails allow or do not allow bikes. When you rent bikes, they give you this same map to take with you on your bike ride. Super handy! The Hermits Rest bike ride caught our eye since part of it is on a road for private vehicles, like shuttles, only. Also, after watching the video on their website we wanted to experience that bike ride for ourselves! The first part of Hermits Rest Road has a 6% grade for about 0.5 miles and the person who fitted us with the bikes made it sound like it was very tough. So, if you want to skip this uphill climb like we did, you can take the Hermits Rest Shuttle and get off at Hopi Point to start your ride. If you want the workout, forget the shuttle and head on up. One of the rules for bike riders is that you have to stop and pull over to the side of the road (past the white line on the right side) when a shuttle is passing. I was so glad we took the shuttle when we watched some bike riders who were slowly making the climb up the hill have to come to a complete stop, move over, and let the shuttle go by (then to start up again). Sorry guys! Getting off at Hopi Point gives you about 5.5 miles of easy cruising (except for the small uphill climb towards the end). The shuttles are equipped with a bike rack in the front that will allow 3 bikes on it. At Bright Angel Bicycle they have the same bike rack on their lot to practice on. Once you figure it out, it’s pretty simple and we had no problems putting on and taking off the 3 bikes on the actual shuttle in a timely manner. At busier times of the year, Bright Angel Bicycles have their own vehicles to transport bikes to Hopi Point or wherever you want to start your bike ride.
Since we rented our bikes near Mather Point we had to make our way on the bike trails to catch the Hermits Rest shuttle. We took the bike trail (yellow and dotted green path) through various inland areas. It was pretty much all slightly downhill next to roads (and the mules!) to the shuttle stop.
The Hermits Rest Bike Ride was spectacular! We stopped and then stopped some more. This is a bike ride to experience and savor, you will come across so many different views that can’t be missed. There were many benches and vista points that couldn’t possibly be passed up as well. The bike ride ended up taking much longer than we anticipated, but I feel satisfied that we got to see what we wanted. We ended up riding past the shuttle stops which were very popular and finding our own private lookout points along the way. It is easy to find your “one with nature” feeling exploring the canyon by bike.
After reaching Hermits Rest we locked up our bikes and walked around a bit, but it all felt a little anti-climatic after the amazing bike ride we just finished. We took the shuttle back to the Hermits Rest Transfer stop and from there rode our bikes back to the bike trail intersection near where we started at Bright Angel Bicycles. From there we took the Tusayan Trail back to our campsite.
Tusayan Trail to Mather campground:
At Bright Angel Bicycles, they mentioned that most people take a bike ride towards the Yaki Point/South Kaibab area where you don’t have to take a shuttle. We walked that trail on the way to our South Kaibab hike and I can see how it could be a great bike ride. Nice wide trails and great vistas. So many options, I don’t think you could go wrong with a bike ride on one of the Rim Trails (Hermits Rest or Yaki Point). Our bike riding day at the Grand Canyon was one that we will remember and talk about for years to come. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face and fills me with gratefulness that we got to experience this. It was definitely a highlight of our Thanksgiving trip at the Grand Canyon. I hope you and your family will consider giving this a try (if you haven’t tried it yet). Cruise along and let the Grand Canyon show you the beauty and wonder of this place…but don’t forget to stop!