Each day as I chat with people who are planning their vacations I find there are several who are interested in taking a mule ride into the Canyon. They ask questions regarding price and availability. While we not the concessionaire and do not book the mule rides, we do like visitors to have as much information as possible for planning their vacations. At the South Rim, two types of mule rides may be available; the Abyss Overlook Mule Ride and the Overnight Rides to Phantom Ranch. Because of the limited number of mule rides available for the overnight tours they must be booked well in advance. In fact, they open up for booking on the first day of the month, 13 months in advance and if you aren’t on the phone by 7:00 a.m. with speed dial (and perhaps a few friends to help you) it is highly unlikely you will be able to book an overnight mule ride at the South Rim.
The Abyss Overlook Mule Rides tend to have better availability and you should be able to reserve one a few months in advance. However, these rides do not go into the canyon; instead they go through the forest to the Abyss Overlook. If you are simply looking for a mule ride this will be fun but if you are looking to get to the bottom of the Canyon, you might have to consider alternatives.
Fortunately there are alternatives! There is only one road that goes into the Canyon and the best way to get to the bottom on that road is by taking the Inner Canyon Tour. There are also some options for getting to the Colorado River at the beginning of the Grand Canyon. The Canyon River Adventure Tour gives the best value but for those who do not like tour flights, The Colorado River Float Trip will be the next best option.
If you still have your heart set on a mule ride that will actually go into the Canyon, you might want to consider visiting the North Rim and taking the Mule Ride from there. They offer two half-day mule rides per day that go to Supai Tunnel in the Grand Canyon. They also offer two forest rides a day as well as two one-hour rides along the rim. Because the North Rim is more remote and not visited by as many people, these rides tend to occasionally be available even a week or two out.