Over five million people flock to the Grand Canyon every year, ninety-five percent of which head straight for the attraction-packed, adventure-filled, scenic panorama that is the South Rim.
As you probably noticed when I mentioned the annual visitor statistic, the Grand Canyon and especially the South Rim, is pretty popular. This means that if you want to spend more than the couple of hours it’ll take you to hike a trail or take a picture overlooking Yavapai Point, you’d better get to making a reservation right now.
Following is a list of different places to stay on, in, or around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. From hotels and lodges, to campgrounds and an RV park, you’ve got plenty of options.
Lodging On the South Rim
There are six lodges and hotels within the park itself. These lodges are highly coveted by visitors and most are booked 13 months in advance. That being said, there’s nothing like enjoying a full day of heated adventure and coming “home” to a hot shower right on the canyon rim.
El Tovar Hotel
This is the place you reserve if you want the best of the best- location, convenience, and luxury. It’s also the place you reserve 13 months in advance on a generous budget.
Built in 1905, El Tovar Hotel sits right on the rim and unlike popular belief, getting a room that overlooks the canyon isn’t as easy as the travel magazines would have you believe. The architect, Charles Whittlesey, wanted guests to explore the canyon themselves, not just be appeased by a gorgeous view.
The oldest lodge in the park, El Tovar Hotel is one of the most beautiful places to stay in the park. The hotel features small, but comfortable rooms that have been recently refurbished.
El Tovar Hotel also features an excellent (if expensive) restaurant with perhaps the best dining options in the park.
Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins
Bright Angel Lodge and the cabins located to its western side are another great place to stay on the South Rim. Built during the Great Depression, the main lodge offered (and still offers today) a cheaper alternative to El Tovar Hotel.
If you don’t mind the bustle caused by tourists signing up for various tours (or buying meal tickets to cash in at Phantom Ranch), the lodge is a great place to stay.
Featuring comfortable, rustic rooms and two dining options (the Bright Angel Dining Room and the Arizona Grill Room), this lodge is located right smack in the center of activity- and information.
– Oh, and the cabins are conveniently located a few steps from the Bright Angel trailhead.
Another rim-strattling lodge, the Kachina was built in the 1960s and features some of the most contemporary accommodation choices you’ll find on the South Rim.
Kachina Lodge also happens to be in a prime location, right in the center of dining, shopping, and browsing action. It’s also within walking distance to Kolb Studio, the Visitor Center, and the Bright Angel Trail. It’s also right on the Rim Trail, providing access to some of the best viewpoints on the trail.
The Thunderbird Lodge was built around the same time as the Kachina Lodge and also happens to sit on the edge of the rim.
Like the Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge was built to accommodate families. This is a more modern lodge equipped with more amenities (flat-screens, refrigerator, coffee-maker, etc.) and located conveniently for active tourists.
While it doesn’t feature a restaurant, the lodge is located within walking distance to Bright Angel Lodge, which has two.
Located in the Grand Canyon Village, the Maswik Lodge is a combination gift-shop, lodge, and cafeteria. Especially convenient for large groups and families, the lodge features spacious rooms with modern amenities.
Maswik Lodge is a huge, 250-room complex, featuring some private cabins, and rooms with partial views of the canyon or forested surroundings.
Oh, and there’s a pizza hub.
Maswik’s more reserved twin sister, the Yavapai Lodge offers the same room quality and dining options with the exception of its location.
Significantly farther from the rim than Maswik Lodge, Yavapai Lodge requires more of an effort to hop between the rim and rest, but the tranquil atomsphere is worth the distance.
Lodging Below the South Rim
For some visitors, an overnight stay isn’t happening at all if it doesn’t happen below the rim. After all, this is the Grand Canyon. To sleep below its tall earth columns is one of the greatest luxuries of all.
If camping isn’t an option for you and you start reserving right now, staying in a cabin below the rim is still possible.
The only lodge located below the canyon, Phantom Lodge is one of the hardest places to get accommodations in the entire park. Reservations have to be made well over a year in advance. Also, you can only access the lodge by hiking, rafting, or riding a mule.
While the “ranch” part may have you thinking spacious thoughts, the lodge itself is actually quite quaint. The lodge offers dormitory-style accommodation in either stone or wood cabins.
Given the hardship of attaining resources, the amenities are very frugal and most cabins do not have their private showers, however a nearby building offers communal shower facilities.
The Phantom Ranch Canteen offers breakfast, bagged lunches, and two options of dinner: their famous hiker’s stew or steak.
Despite the humble offerings, Phantom Ranch is very desirable to visitors and rooms book up fast. Reservations must also be made if you are planning to have a meal at the canteen.
Bright Angel Campground
One of the more popular developed campgrounds, Bright Angel Campground is located about a quarter of a mile from Phantom Ranch.
In order to camp here, a backcountry permit is required. The campground offers a variety of campsites, from spaces that accommodate large groups, to smaller, private campsites.
Keep in mind that these campsites are highly requested and not very big- so pack accordingly and plan to share tents.
This campground only has 15 campsites and is one of the smaller campgrounds below the rim.
Located halfway down the Bright Angel Trail, this is a popular camping site for which you’ll also need a backcountry permit.
Sites can easily accommodate small groups not exceeding 6 people.
Lodging Near the South Rim
Located about 6 miles (10 km) from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim entrance, the town of Tusayan caters to park visitors by providing alternative lodging options. Here, you can find some convenience stores and some very excellent hotels and lodges.
Red Feather Lodge
Located about a mile from the South Rim entrance, the Red Feather Lodge is located in the town of Tusayan and offers luxury amenities including restaurants, heated pools, a spa, laundry facilities, and wifi.
The Grand Hotel
Located about two miles from the entrance to the park’s South Rim, the Grand Hotel is a great place to stay while visiting the picturesque South Rim.
An ideal location for traveling families, this hotel provides great quality at a reasonable price. Given its convenience, the Grand Hotel is one of the most in-demand hotels near the Grand Canyon, especially during the summer season. Plan ahead.
Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn
Located about a mile-and a half from the South Rim entrance, this hotel is full-service and located in at the perfect distance to travel to and from the park. Especially convenient for large groups or families wanting to explore the canyon over a few days, this is an excellent place to stay.
Camping On the South Rim
There are also some amazing campgrounds located right on the rim itself. This means that you can have your amazing night-under-the-stars and still be close enough to everything else.
Especially convenient if you’re only interested in rim trails, camping is also a great economic lodging option. There are a few different campgrounds to choose from.
Mather Campground is possibly the best campground on the South Rim- that is, if you’re going for something on the rim.
Excellent for summer camping, most of the campsites provide ample shade and are within walking distance to the general store- you know, in case you get an understandable craving for s’mores.
Another great thing about Mather Campground is that if you don’t feel like hiking everywhere, the free shuttle bus will take you to and from the campground. The shuttle bus will take you to a couple of different trailhead as well as some of the most popular attractions.
Given the convenience and overall greatness of this campground, it is in high demand, so make sure to make your reservation well in advance (we’re talking at least 4 months).
Desert View Campgound
Named after the famous viewpoint-full drive located on the eastern side of the park’s South Rim, this campground is one of the cheaper rim-campgrounds.
A great campsite regardless, Desert View lacks many amenities available at Mather Campground and is also farther from most trailheads. That being said, Desert View and the Tusayan Ruin Museum are nearby attractions to check out.
Camping Outside the Park
Let’s say you are arriving at the park late, where do you stay? Luckily, camping outside the South Rim is made possible by Ten-X Campground and dispersed camping. This is also a great opportunity to enjoy the magnificent Kaibab National Forest.
Located near the southern entrance, Ten-X campground is located within the gorgeous Kaibab National Forest. This means that while it is further away, it’s one of the most scenic places to camp outside the actual park.
Camping outside the park is also allowed, you just have to make sure that your campsite is at least a fourth of a km away from the highway (Highway 64).
Recreational Vehicle Use
Those of you traveling in a recreational vehicle are also covered in terms of lodging. Located in the famous Grand Canyon Village, the Trailer Village is the best designated RV space on the South Rim.
Right smack in the center of everything, this area provides all the amenities you could possibly need; electricity, laundry facilities, and grilling stations are in plenty.