One of the biggest mistakes people make when deciding to visit the Grand Canyon is to not plan far enough in advance. About the only thing worse is to not plan at all and to just show up there expecting to be able to get a room on the rim, with a view, with no reservation. I've seen that happen too.
Grand Canyon receives close to 5 million vistors per year. Ninety percent of those visitors go to Grand Canyon Village on the south rim and the other ten percent go to the north rim.
The south rim is open all year but majority of the visitation is between April and October as well as on weekends and other holiday periods throughout the year. You will almost always be able to find a room somewhere near the Canyon, even if you do show up without a reservation. If you want to stay inside the park, however, in a room on or very close to the rim, you had better start your planning somewhere between three and six months of your intended visit. Accomodations inside the park are very limited and if you want to stay on the rim you are basically limited to either the Bright Angel, Thunderbird or Kachina Lodges; or the El Tovar Hotel. The Thunderbird and Kachina Lodges are scheduled to be removed at somepoint within the next few years and there are no plans to replace them so at that point there will be even fewer rooms available. Within a quarter mile of the rim there is also the Maswik Lodge and within a half mile of the rim is the Yavapai Lodge. That's it for lodging inside the park. Once those rooms are filled the closest rooms are in Tusayan, just outside the park's south entrance, about 6 miles from the rim. Beyond those there is Valle and beyond those there is Williams and Flagstaff.
The north rim is even worse. It is only open from mid-May to mid-October and there is only one place to stay inside the park, the Grand Canyon Lodge. Accomodations at Grand Canyon Lodge consist of large Frontier cabins or smaller Pioneer cabins, located close to the rim, as well as some motel units, set a little further back from the rim. Once those rooms are gone there is the Kaibab Lodge, 16 miles north of the north rim, or the Jacob Lake Lodge, about 37 miles north of the rim.
A Backcountry Permit is required for anyone who wishes to camp below the rim and these can be just as difficult to come by as hotel rooms unless you plan ahead. The permit period for backcountry permits opens on the first of the month, five months ahead of the date you want to get your permit for. If you are looking for a permit for a popular area you should plan to apply within the first week that the period is open, if not the first day that the period is open. To protect the backcountry from hordes of backpackers there are strict limitations on the number of people that can be in any one backcountry use area at the same time. The only exceptions to this rule are the campgrounds located in the main hiking corridor, north of Grand Canyon Village. These are more sites but are also much more popular and therefore do not last long.
General Information about the Grand Canyon.
Lodging and other services available at the Grand Canyon.
Guided Tour of the Grand Canyon.
What to See and Do when you visit.
Frequently asked Questions.
How to Get There.
The main park Visitor Center is located near Mather Point in Grand Canyon Village on the south rim.
When you enter the park you will receive a copy of the park newspaper, The Guide, along with a map. The Guide contains valuable information that will make your visit much more enjoyable, read it. Click here for an on-line sampling of what you might find in The Guide.
Free Evening programs are offered every night.
Special information is available Just For Kids.
Free Shuttle Bus service is available mid-March through mid-October.
Copyright © Bob Ribokas, 1994-2004, all rights reserved. This publication and its text and photos may not be copied for commercial use without the express written permission of Bob Ribokas.