Bright Angel Bikes
Mission + Vision
“Provide visitors the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of Grand Canyon in an active and educational manner while promoting a sense of stewardship that extends beyond the visitors time in the park.”
Bright Angel Bicycles is Grand Canyon’s first “in-park” bike rental facility. We are passionate about the Grand Canyon and sharing it with visitors in a manner that is both fun and meaningful. Bicycles provide an environmentally preferable way to explore the park and allow visitors to take an active role in their visit. Bright Angel Bicycles is committed to providing excellence in service and operating an environmentally and socially responsible business.
Our Story + Our Founders
Our story starts in 2010, when we opened a tiny kiosk as the first family owned and operated small business in Grand Canyon (pictured above). My name is Wes Neal and along with my business partner, Kyle George, we own Bright Angel Bicycles and Cafe. Prior to starting this business, both Kyle and I had been river runners for 8 years on the Colorado in the Canyon. We had become passionate ambassadors of Grand Canyon and outdoor living and the thought of transitioning away from our lifestyle was not desirable, nor was it in our immediate trajectory. By 2010 however, we had both started our families and reality had set in. Working for weeks away at a time in Grand Canyon wasn’t conducive to family life. After switching gears to day tours along the South Rim to allow me to be home at night, I began to see a gap for bicycles along the rim. I would walk miles of paved pathways on the South Rim with guests and think about how it could accommodate bicycles beautifully and get people out of their cars and onto the trails more. When I mentioned the idea to Kyle, he immediately voiced support and boldly asked to be part of the pitch. We shook hands, one of the best decisions of my life to this point, and moved forward as partners.
After pitching the idea to the Park and securing a temporary permit to “try” the idea’s viability… we worked as hard as we could to get the story of “Riding the Rim” out to the public. By the end of the first year, ridership had drastically increased and the Park was willing to give us additional time while they explored the idea of a permanent building. By the end of the second year, they were sold. Two river runners without college degrees, connections or bucketloads of cash were writing a bid to secure a “real concession” against a handful of corporate giants with mammoth resources. We were told by people with a lot of experience high in the ranks of the Park that regretfully, there was basically no chance we would secure the contract. Our pockets weren’t deep enough. Our resources weren’t secured. Our pitch, surely, would pale in comparison to the giants (think billion dollar corporations) we were competing with.
We however, had more heart than they had counted on. With the invaluable help of a friend, Ruthy Stoner, that had insight into the process of government bidding, tons of creativity, a shoestring budget and a whole lot of prayer … we camped out in our home office for 12 hours a day, 6 weeks straight… and completed our proposal.
We were closing in on the end of the window of notification when we FINALLY received the call from Park headquarters. I was on my way to Sedona to help my brother with a landscaping job since it seemed that soon I would have to find a different way to make ends meet. It had been a long period of silence, and we had all resigned ourselves at that point to the fact that those nay sayers may have been right after all. Instead, the concessions specialist enthusiastically congratulated us on winning the contract, and added that it was an outstanding proposal. He suggested that rather than keeping up with the bigger players that we had “knocked the ball completely out of the Park”.
And that, as they say, is history. The short version of how Kyle and I are able to attend our kids recitals and sporting events on a regular basis. We’re still slinging bikes, delivering food, keeping up on the books. As long as we’re in this… we’re going to be all hands on deck. This is more than a business, it’s a passion.
If you take one thing away from reading our story… remember when they say “you can’t”… it’s either true… or it’s just rocket fuel to boost you to the finish line. And… it’s only true if you believe it is.
Wes and Sarah Neal started a day tour and hiking business called “Around the Bend Adventures” in 2008 based out of Flagstaff, after eight years as a whitewater rafting guide for Arizona River Runners at Grand Canyon. As his family grew, Wes had found it increasingly difficult to balance life on the river with life at home. Each time he returned from weeks away, he would find his daughter had reached new milestones in his absence. Hesitant to sever his ties with Grand Canyon, he founded the van tour and guided hiking operation as an avenue to earn money and keep sharing the Canyon with Northern Arizona’s tourists. This time on the rim sharing the “above world” with visitors from abroad, allowed Wes to notice the gap for a bicycle service on the South Rim. He realized that the Canyon already had the infrastructure in place to get visitors onto two wheels around the Park. It was logical that a bicycle tour service would be well received; it presented a unique, affordable, and environmentally friendly way for people to experience the canyon. Most of all, it presented a sustainable way to build a career closer to home.
Bringing bicycles to Grand Canyon became a driving passion for Wes. Along with his wife Sarah who had a decade of graphic design and branding experience, they began the process of proposing the idea to the Park and were eventually successful alongside their good friend and former roommate Kyle George. The rest, as they say, is history.
If Wes isn’t busy helping manage his businesses (or starting a new one), you’ll find him mountain biking, hiking, fishing or just enjoying his relationship with God in church or his love for nature with the his kids – they still are central to all the decisions he makes in his businesses.
Kyle George joined Wes as a managing partner early in the process. As fellow river guides and friends, Kyle and Wes had family and small business ownership in common. They had often discussed the balance of work and family framed against the landscape of the Grand Canyon. The partnership was an obvious choice. Their friendship had given them a deep understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and both were in a place where a change was ripe for the picking.
A longtime cyclist, Kyle’s passion and knowledge of bicycles was complimented by his business experience and years of guiding visitors through Grand Canyon. Over Kyle’s dining room table, he and Wes gave shape to the fledgling idea of the bicycle program and set to work. Kyle also continues to pursue his passion of outdoor and lifestyle photography (check out his awesome work!) . He is an avid fly fisherman and back country skier and spends much of his spare time chasing boulders with his incredibly skilled wife Carrie who happens to be a renowned rock climber and physical therapist for athletes.
Lastly, but most importantly, Kyle’s most treasured title is “Dad” to two children (closing in on adults quickly!). Kyle spends a lot of time taking his family on excursions and trips to share his passions and supporting them in their own interests as well. He too sees the business through the lens of his kids and their futures and well being.
Boots on the Ground
Our team and their incredible contribution to our business should not be eclipsed by any other part of our story. They are the life blood of our business. It goes without saying that even with fairytale beginnings, we simply wouldn’t exist without a robust, passionate, rugged team of individuals on the ground 364 days a year. (NPS grants one day’s closure per year – December 25th). Working at the Canyon is not for the faint of heart. Each person who signs up to live and work in Grand Canyon National Park enlists themselves in a journey fraught with extreme ebbs and flows in pace. Summers are manic. Winters can be mind numbing. Still, the team we have formed loves the Canyon; is eager to share it with visitors; and each seeks to make customer’s biking experience the best, safest and most impressionable and memorable thing on their vacation.
We are proud of the standards they have set, the genuine warmth they convey to visitors and the way they take care for each other. Without them, there is no us. We are forever grateful for their commitment to the company, and for their contribution to the Park and it’s visitors each year.
Thousands of reviews not only mention the majesty of the canyon and splendor of biking along the edge… but the friendly dispositions and professionalism they were greeted with at our shop. And that’s all our team. If you happen to stop by, let them know that they are appreciated… on a busy summer day it goes a long way! And that’s also why we’ll always leave that tip screen on in case you want to thank them monetarily. 🙂
What Do People Say?
2022 marked the tenth year in a row that we were awarded the traveler’s choice designation by TripAdvisor.com. Our excellent reputation and reviews also made us rank in one of the top 10% of attractions booked world wide. Thousands of reviews confirm what we already know to be true, this is one of the best things (by far!) that you can do when you visit Grand Canyon.
We always recommend reservations whenever possible. Walk-up availability is on a first-come-first-serve basis and is on a weather-dependent basis in the winter months.
Bright Angel Bicycles LLC
10 S. Entrance Road
Grand Canyon, AZ, 86023
Bright Angel Bicycles & Cafe at Mather Point is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior. All prices and services are regulated by NPS.