We’re lucky here in Colorado; we’ve got endless opportunities for outdoor recreation in our jagged mountains, desert, plains, and mountain lakes. Turns out that we’ve also got some pretty cool neighbors, namely the Grand Canyon State, our neighbor to the southwest. Considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Arizona’s Grand Canyon lives up the hype. Dramatic canyons, burnt red rock walls, and carved cliffs make for a landscape unlike any other and one that you won’t soon forget. Whether you choose to experience the Grand Canyon by train, raft, helicopter, bus, or even mule, you’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. Here are five unique ways to explore Grand Canyon National Park.

1. Overnight Mule Ride to Phantom Ranch

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Views from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo Credit: pick-uppath (iStock)

Descend 10 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the canyon floor along the Bright Angel Trail on the back of a mule. About 5 and a half hours later, after a picnic lunch, arrive at Phantom Ranch in time to dig into a belt-busting dinner served family-style and spend the night in a charming cabin on the property. The return trip offers fresh scenery and another chance to immerse yourself in the desert landscape.

For more information about Mule Rides and to reserve your Grand Canyon adventure, visit grandcanyonlodges.com.

2. Canyon Vistas Mule Ride

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The views are long and wide from the East Rim of the Grand Canyon. And they never get old. Photo Credit: mkrath (iStock)

Enjoy spectacular views and a guided tour along the East Rim trail from the back of a mule. On this four-mile, three-hour trek, you’ll learn all about the canyon’s human history, geology, plant life, and more.

For more information about Mule Rides and to reserve your Grand Canyon adventure, visit grandcanyonlodges.com.

3. The Grand Canyon Railway

Grand Canyon Railway - Tony Hisgett - Flickr
Riding the Grand Canyon Railway is one of the most unique ways to experience the beauty of the National Park. Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett (Flickr)

This lovingly restored classic train offers an incomparable historic ride to the canyon through ponderosa and piñon pine forests and wide-open prairies. There are multiple tours and packages available based on how much time you have and the experience you’re looking for.

For a grand entry into the park on The Grand Canyon Railway, visit thetrain.com or call 800-843-8724 to find the right tour or package for you.

Canyon Discovery Package

The two-night getaway starts and ends in at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ, a town with classic Old West flavor. After checking into the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, enjoy dinner at the buffet-style Grand Depot Café. Following breakfast the next morning, you’ll be treated to a Wild West show at the historic Williams Depot, before boarding the train for the two-hour, 15-minute journey to the canyon with its unbelievable views. The entertainment continues en route, as musicians stroll between the cars, and passenger service attendants provide  information about the canyon and the surrounding landscape.

After arriving at the South Rim’s 1910 train depot, passengers will enjoy a guide-narrated, hour-and-a-half motor-coach tour that includes key sites along the South Rim. There’s also free time to explore, whether that means hiking along the rim, exploring historic buildings and shops, or simply savoring a leisurely lunch at a canyon-adjacent restaurant.

The train departs for the return trip to Williams in the afternoon, leaving time to relax at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel before dinner at the Grand Depot Café. The package includes two nights lodging, round-trip train fare, motor-coach tour, two dinners, and two breakfasts.

Canyon Discovery Plus Package

Looking to spend more time at Grand Canyon National Park? This deal includes all elements of the Canyon Discovery Package but adds an overnight stay in the National Park at Maswik Lodge North. Situated on several acres in a ponderosa pine forest, the two-story lodge buildings are within easy walking distance of the South Rim’s Historic Village and the canyon’s edge.

Railway Getaway Package

If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, reserve a round-trip train fare in one of six classes of service — from Pullman Class to Luxury Parlor — along with a night at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, with breakfast and dinner at the Grand Depot Café.

Inner-Canyon Coach Tour

This day-long tour starts and ends in Williams and takes visitors onto the Hualapai Indian Reservation. The coach travels along one of the last remaining stretches of the original Historic Route 66. Destined for a remote area of the canyon west of the National Park boundaries, the coach descends 4,000 feet to the Colorado River. The oversized vans have large windows and rugged suspension systems for maximum comfort. The tour, available seasonally, includes a box lunch to enjoy on the banks of the river.

For a grand entry into the park on The Grand Canyon Railway, visit thetrain.com or call 800-843-8724 to find the right tour or package for you.

4. Grand Canyon River Adventure

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Rafting through the Grand Canyon is truly an unforgettable experience. Photo Credit: bruceman (iStock)

Plan for a day-long, multi-adventure outing. Jump in a plane to to Page, Arizona, enjoying incredible aerial views of the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. Then, explore Antelope Canyon with a Native American guide, and take a 15-mile mild float trip down the Colorado River. You’ll finish your adventure back at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

5. Bearizona Wildlife Park

Bearizona - Christopher Amrich - Flickr
Add Bearizona to your Grand Canyon itinerary to visit and learn about native wildlife. Photo Credit: Christopher Amrich (Flickr)

It’s worth spending an extra day in Williams, Arizona to visit this wooded wildlife park. Home to wolves, bears, bison, and more, Bearizona is great for families. Educational programs include animal “meet-n-greets,” participatory animal feedings, and birds of prey shows. Visitors can self-drive the route or join a bus tour with an expert guide.

For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.

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Horseshoe Bend at Sunset. Photo Credit: FilippoBacci (iStock)

Beyond the Grand Canyon

If United States National Parks are on your list of bucket list travel destinations, the Holiday Vacations’ Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon 10-day tour is for you. With over 44 years of experience, Holiday Vacations is one of America’s most reputable tour companies. For more information or to reserve a National Park adventure, visit holidayvacations.com or call 800-826-2266.