The steep, rocky trails below the rim pose problems for travelers with certain disabilities. People with limited vision or mobility may be able to walk the Bright Angel and North Kaibab trails, which are the canyon's smoothest. If you need to take a service animal on trails below the South Rim, check in at the Backcountry Information Office (tel. 928/638-7875), located across the train tracks near Maswik Lodge on the South Rim. On the North Rim, check in at the Backcountry Office, located 12 miles south of the North Entrance (just north of the campground entrance). For details about the accessibility of park buildings and facilities, pick up the free Accessibility Guide at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Kolb Studio, Tusayan Ruin and Museum, the Desert View Information Center, or any of the park entrance stations.
All shuttle buses in the park are equipped with ramps and space to carry passengers in wheelchairs that are up to 30 inches wide and 48 inches long. Visitors can also indicate to the driver that they would like the bus to "kneel" to reduce the size of the step up to the front door when entering or exiting.
On the rims, many attractions are accessible to everyone. On the South Rim, Desert View Drive is an excellent activity. Four of its overlooks -- Yaki, Grandview, Moran, and Desert View -- are wheelchair accessible. The Tusayan Ruin and Museum is also accessible (ask for assistance at the information desk). At Desert View, the bookstore and grocery store are accessible, but no designated seating is available at the snack bar. Along Desert View Drive, restrooms for the mobility impaired are at Yaki Point, Grandview Point, Tusayan Ruin and Museum, and Desert View (just east of Desert View General Store).
Hermit Road has been repaved, and although the drive is closed to most private cars when shuttles are running, travelers with disabilities can obtain accessibility permits for their vehicles at the park's entrance gates, Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Yavapai Geology Museum, Kolb Studio, Verkamp's, El Tovar's concierge desk, and the transportation desks at Bright Angel Lodge, Yavapai Lodge, and Maswik Lodge. On the drive itself, Hopi Point, Pima Point, Maricopa Point, and Powell Memorial are all wheelchair accessible. The road also affords a number of nice "windshield views" from pullouts where one need not leave the car to see the canyon. To reach the gift shop at Hermits Rest, you'll have to negotiate two 5-inch steps and a route that slopes gently sideways. Along Hermit Road there are wheelchair-accessible restrooms at Hopi Point and Hermits Rest. Despite having many historic buildings, most of Grand Canyon Village is wheelchair accessible. The notable exceptions are Kolb Studio and Lookout Studio. Hopi House is accessible only through a 29-inch-wide door on the building's canyon side. Also, some hallways in Yavapai Lodge are too narrow for wheelchairs. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Canyon Village Marketplace, Yavapai Geology Museum, El Tovar Hotel, Bright Angel Lodge, Mather Campground, and Maswik Lodge. Mather Campground has six sites for people with disabilities.
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center, on the South Rim, is tailored for people with disabilities. Walkways and doorways are wheelchair accessible. Mather Point can be reached from the visitor center via a paved walkway, and a new wheelchair-accessible ramp takes visitors out to a point offering fantastic canyon views.
Those who have difficulty walking can usually negotiate the 1.5-mile-long rim trail between Bright Angel Lodge and Yavapai Point (except when icy). An additional half-mile from Yavapai Point is a doable distance to Mather Point. Wide and smooth, the new greenway has moderate grades -- and stunning canyon views.
On the North Rim, most buildings are accessible. An accessible trail connecting Grand Canyon Lodge, its motel units, and the visitor center is under construction. The two most popular North Rim overlooks -- Point Imperial and Cape Royal -- are accessible, though neither has a designated parking space. Grand Canyon Lodge is accessible via a lift and a ramp, and the North Rim Campground has six accessible sites. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are at the Backcountry Office (assistance required), Grand Canyon Lodge (assistance may be required), the North Rim Campground, and behind the visitor center.
Xanterra (tel. 928/638-2822), with advance notice, can sometimes arrange for buses with lifts for its tours. The canyon's mule-trip operators accommodate people with certain disabilities, as do many river companies. Western River Expeditions (tel. 800/453-7450; www.westernriver.com), Arizona Raft Adventures (tel. 800/786-7238; www.azraft.com), Grand Canyon Expeditions (tel. 800/544-2691; www.gcex.com), and Canyon Explorations, Inc. (tel. 800/654-0723; www.canyonx.com) are particularly accommodating to people with certain disabilities.
The National Park Service supplies U.S. citizens with permanent disabilities a free federal Access Pass, which can only be obtained in person at a national park. Good for a lifetime, the pass admits a car with four adults, and gets holders a half-off discount on some facilities and services, such as camping.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.