When it comes to planning a Grand Canyon vacation, you’ll find a wide range of options for places to stay. For those who love the great outdoors, camping in the Grand Canyon may be the best option, but it’s far from the only one. It’s possible to stay just outside the park entrance in one of the Grand Canyon hotels, but for many travelers, staying inside Grand Canyon National Park is the best way to go, as it has easy access to all the wonderful scenery, hiking trails, and other attractions available at this beautiful attraction.
There are eight lodges within the park, all of which are operated by the National Park Service. These options are primarily on the South Rim of the canyon itself, but there is one option for staying within the canyon, and it’s one of the prettiest options for outdoor lodging anywhere in Arizona.
El Tovar Lodge
El Tovar Lodge
El Tovar Lodge, considered by many to be the premier choice among the Grand Canyon lodging options, opened in 1905 and received its latest renovations in 2005. A National Historic Landmark, El Tovar Lodge is perfectly situated right on the canyon rim within easy reach of the great hiking trails and views along the South Rim. The lodge is rustic but elegant, and it’s surprisingly affordable, given its terrific location and plenty of amenities: All the rooms feature cable TV, telephones, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms, and the lodge also has a restaurant and bar. There are 78 rooms at the El Tovar Lodge, many of which have views of the canyon itself, so book well in advance if you want to get one, particularly during the summer months.
Bright Angel Lodge
Bright Angel Lodge
This lodge is a National Historic Landmark, and it’s been a hub of activity around the South Rim ever since it opened—it still serves as the hub for the famous Grand Canyon mule rides. The family-style restaurant serves three meals a day, and the Arizona Room serves Southwestern food for lunch and dinner. The accommodations include lodge-style rooms, meaning they have no TVs and not all have private baths, and cabin rooms, all of which have television and private bathrooms. In addition, some of the rooms have canyon views. Among the best features of the Bright Angel Lodge are its old-fashioned ice cream fountain and the tours & activities desk, which can help guests arrange Grand Canyon tours, hikes, and other terrific things to do.
While all these lodges are great and affordable, Phantom Ranch has a couple of particularly excellent things going for it: It’s the cheapest Grand Canyon lodging option, and it’s also the only one located inside the canyon itself. Phantom Ranch has dorm-style rooms with ten bunk beds each, as well as 11 cabins, and it’s a popular option for hikers and travelers on mule rides or Grand Canyon rafting trips who are looking for the perfect accommodations to complement their vacation. Rooms can be booked up to 13 months in advance, and Phantom Ranch is extremely popular, so book as far in advance as possible. In addition to the rooms, there is a canteen which sells food, drinks, and sundries. Mule trips typically include meals, but hikers must reserve their meals separately and, as with the rooms, do so well in advance.
The Yavapai Lodge is the largest option among the Grand Canyon National Park lodges. Located about half a mile from the rim, it’s surrounded by Juniper and Pinyon woodlands and is a very convenient choice for families. Yavapai East has 198 rooms, while Yavapai West has 160. Rooms all feature coffee makers, refrigerators, and either air conditioning or vaulted ceilings with fans. There is a general store, post office, and bank in the plaza next door, a coin-operated laundromat nearby, and the on-site Canyon Café, which is open for three meals a day. Yavapai also has a gift shop and an activities desk, which can help arrange tours, hiking trips, and mule rides.
Other Grand Canyon Lodging
The other lodges at Grand Canyon National Park are Maswik Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Thunderbird Lodge, and RVs can stay at Trailer Village. Maswik, Kachina, and Thunderbird are all contemporary, modern lodges with non-smoking rooms, some canyon views, and multiple options for room sizes and the number of beds. Rooms include TV, telephones, refrigerators, and private baths, among other amenities. Maswik Lodge also includes cabins in the summer, and Kachina and Thunderbird are both between El Tovar and Bright Angel, which means it’s a short walk to the restaurants at either lodge. Trailer Village has hookups for RVs up to 50 feet long, and each RV site has a picnic table, electricity, cable TV, water and sewage hookups, and a barbecue grill. There are coin-operated showers, laundry, vending machines, and telephones at the nearby Camper Services area.
Top image: Grand Canyon NPS (flickr)