See the context of this sign.

Mules and the Canyon

Behind you is the Bright Angel mule
corral, where each morning mules
greet riders and another adventure
begins. Mules have carried people into
Grand Canyon since sightseers first
visited here in the 1890s. For many
people - including those who cannot
hike - mules provide access to the
inner canyon.

"If the mule should slip, all
would be over. BUT - the mule
doesn't slip. The trail is never
as narrow or as steep as you
will describe it when you get
back home. If it were, no living
animal could possibly make the
trip safely."

Fred Harvey publication, 1909

Fore more than a century, mules
have carried people and equipment
into Grand Canyon. A washing
machine (bottom left) is mule-
bound for Phantom Ranch, 1939.
President Theodore Roosevelt
(bottom right) sits astride a
Grand Canyon mule, 1913.


What is a mule?
Mules are hybrids, a cross between a
male burro and a female horse.

How long do mules live? How
old are the ones visitors ride?

Mules live about 30-35 years
The ones visitors ride are
between 6-25 years old (10
years average).

Can I pet or feed the mules?
No, please. It is dangerous.

Will the mules bite?
Yes, they might. They are not
aggressive, but if someone
reaches out with hands that
smell like food, they will bite.

Please do not feet or pet
the mules.

Why mules? Why not horses?
Mules carry more weight, are
less tempermental, and are
more economical. And, as one
wrangler said, "The difference
between riding a mule and
riding a horse is like the
difference between riding in a
Cadillac and riding in a washing
machine. Mules are just a
whole lot smoother."

Where do Grand Canyon's
passenger mules come from?

Mostly from Tennessee. Often
used for tobacco cultivation,
mules are generally sold
wherever tobacco is grown.
The Fred Harvey Company,
which operates the mule rides,
buys about 15-20 each year.

Where do I get information
about taking a mule ride?

Information is available at all
park hotel desks. Reservations
are made through the Bright
Angel Transportation Desk in
the lobby of Bright Angel Lodge.

Must I make reservations?
Absolutely! A year in advance
is recommended.

How long do mule rides
take? Where do they go?

There are two different trips; a
day trip and an overnight trip.

The day trip takes about 8
hours. Starting here at 8:00
a.m., it goes to Plateau Point
about half way into the canyon,
then returns here by about
4:00 p.m.

The overnight trip leaves here
around 7:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m.
in winter) and descends to
Phantom Ranch in the canyon
bottom, where riders spend the
night. The trip out is via Kaibab
Trail, 5 miles east of here, and
ends by about 4:00 p.m.

What should hikers do when
mules are passing?

Stand quietly to the inside of the
trail and follow instructions
from the wrangler. Mules have
the right of way.

Do the mules ever fall? Have
there been accidents?

Almost never. There has never
been a human death associated
with passenger mules.
Occasionally pack mules have
fallen. Passenger mules are
chosen carefully. They must
not be easily excited. The
greatest hazards involve heat
and interaction with hikers.

Don't miss the rest of our virtual tour of Grand Canyon National Park in 10803 images.