If you plan to spend a night near the Grand Canyon, remember these three words: Reserve well in advance. Try to make your arrangements at least six months before your trip, as much as a year in advance if you're visiting during the popular summer months.
At the South Rim, there are hotels in the park and also in the nearby town of Tusayan. Among the park properties is the splendid El Tovar Hotel, a landmark that is much in demand year-round. The historic Bright Angel Lodge has cabins on the canyon rim that have wonderful views. In addition, the South Rim has several other lodges, two campgrounds and a recreational-vehicle area.
Lodging at the North Rim is available mid-May to mid-October at the Grand Canyon Lodge. The view from the lobby is spectacular, and guests can choose between motel rooms or cabins. Outside the park, limited lodging is available at the Kaibab Lodge (18 mi/30 km north of the rim).
Accessible only by mule or foot, Phantom Ranch is the only indoor lodging at the bottom of the canyon. Guests stay in cabins or dormitories. Do not walk into Phantom Ranch without an advance reservation: You'll soon be walking out, and it's a long haul up the canyon to the next hotel. Also, if you plan to eat at the ranch, you must request all meals in advance. Camping is the only other option below the rim, and most of it is primitive (some areas have pit toilets, some don't). Campsites and backcountry permits must be booked in advance through the Backcountry Information Center.
Reservations for all park properties (except campgrounds) are handled by Grand Canyon Lodges (operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts), 6312 S. Fiddlers Green Circle, Suite 600, N. Greenwood Village, CO 80111. Phone 303-297-2757 (from outside the U.S. only, 7 am-6 pm Mountain Time). Toll-free 888-297-2757 (all calls from within the U.S.). http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com.
There are two developed, nonbackcountry campgrounds and one recreational-vehicle park on the South Rim. Mather Campground in Grand Canyon Village is open year-round and has 300 sites for tents and RVs (no hookups), as well as shared walk-up and bike campsites that are much less expensive (toll-free 877-444-6777 for National Recreation Reservation Service reservations, up to six months in advance). http://www.recreation.gov.
Adjacent to the campground is Trailer Village, an RV campground with hookups and other facilities (phone 928-638-2631 or toll-free 888-297-2757). Desert View Campground at the end of Desert View Drive only operates mid-May to mid-October and does not accept reservations. Arrive early to secure a campsite. http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/Trailer-Village-705.html.
The North Rim Campground is open mid-May to mid-October. It has tent and RV camping, but be aware that there is no dumping station on the grounds. Coin-operated laundry and shower facilities are available at the entrance. Sites are US$18-$25 per night for a maximum of two vehicles, six people and three tents per site. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers are allowed to use the campgrounds during the winter if they get a permit from the Backcountry Information Center. Reservations can be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service. Phone 928-638-7888. Toll-free 877-444-6777. http://www.recreation.gov.
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