While you can’t ride into the Grand Canyon on anything but an agile mule, there are more opportunities than ever to see its popular South Rim from your bike saddle.
South Rim cyclists will typically experience highs in the low to mid-80s during the summer months, with daily afternoon rain storms in late July and August. The roads and trails within in the park are paved and dip and rise moderately across the forested rim. However, at more than 7,000 feet above sea level a small hill sometimes feels a lot bigger than it looks, so don’t worry about taking your time. Don’t forget to bring water bottles, a helmet, and a bike lock so you can stop and stare at the canyon whenever the mood strikes.
Ride Along the Rim
The Hermit Road to the western edge of the park is the best place to ride a bicycle on the South Rim (20 South Entrance Rd., 928-638-7888, $15 for bicyclists, $30 per vehicle). This seven-mile paved road ends at the must-see fairytale building called Hermit’s Rest. It’s closed to cars (but not buses) during the summer months and provides access to the relatively easy, 2.8-mile Hermit Road Greenway Trail, which is the only stretch of the cross-park Rim Trail that is open to bicycles.
Start your ride at the bus stop at the beginning of the Hermit Road, trying not to forget that where there’s a relatively grueling uphill there’s soon to be a fun and relaxing downhill along this undulating forest road. Pick up the Hermit Road Greenway Trail at Monument Creek Vista and follow it past six overlooks, including the popular Pima Point. To reach the edge of the rim at each overlook you must park your bike and walk a short distance, but each developed view point has a small bike rack. The trail ends just before Hermit’s Rest. It’s a gorgeous route with amazing views of the canyon and the thin strip of river far below.
Ride into the Park
Beat the crowds, avoid the frustrating hunt for an in-park parking space, and experience the piney high country around the South Rim by pedaling into the national park along the 6.5-mile Tusayan Greenway, a wide and paved trail that winds through the shady, pine-scented forest with gentle ups and breezy downs (there’s about 500 feet of elevation gain). The trail starts at a large parking lot off of AZ 64, about a mile south of the main park entrance, and ends just before the South Rim Visitor Center. Or if you’re really serious about leaving the car behind, you can lash all of your camping gear onto your bike and ride to one of the bicycle-only camping spots at Mather Campground ($6 per person per night, recreation.gov, 1-877-444-6777).
The same parking lot off AZ 64 provides access to the Tusayan Bike Trails, a series of single-track trails and old mining and logging roads that are popular with mountain bikers. The easy-to-moderate loop trails wind through the evergreen forest outside the park. There’s a map at the beginning of the trails that shows the various loops, the longest of which is about 11 miles and the shortest of which is about 4 miles.
Bike Rentals and Tours
Located inside the park near the main visitor center, Bright Angel Bicycle Rentals (10 South Entrance Road, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, 928-679-0992, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. during summer) has cruisers, road bikes, and kid’s bikes ($20–$35 for half day, $30–$45 for full day), as well as trailers and other gear. They also offer guided bike tours, including along the Hermit Road and the Hermit Road Greenway (5.5. miles, 3 hours, $47–$62, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. during the summer).
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