Will this be your year to ride a mule in the Grand Canyon?

Mule riders begin their journey down the Bright Angel Trail on in the Grand Canyon en route to Phantom Ranch, more than 2,000-feet below the south rim. The rides sometimes book up 13 months ahead. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS | Los Angeles Times | Published: December 21, 2016

It’s a thrill to savor, but not that many travelers these days get to take the classic mule ride at Grand Canyon National Park.

Instead, meandering on the trail for a few hours as most tourists do, you ride down to the canyon bottom, spend the night and ride back up the next day.

More than 600,000 people have done this since the 1880s. But because the park service has cut back on mule access to the canyon bottom, it’s become a rare opportunity.

Every day, no more than 10 riders join guides on this five- to six-hour journey down 10 narrow miles of the Bright Angel Trail to the canyon floor, about 4,400 feet below.

Usually, the group sleeps at Phantom Ranch and ascends the next day on South Kaibab Trail.
The rides sometimes book up 13 months ahead. The 2016 price is $551.62 per person or $961.24 per couple.

Oh, but there is one catch: Riders to Phantom Ranch must weigh less than 200 pounds when fully dressed.

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