If you are one of the close to 5 million people visiting the Grand Canyon this year then one of the foremost things on your mind is where to stay. The Grand Canyon has lodging that will fit the needs of any wallet. Whether you are looking to camp for free or would like to stay in the presidential suite of the historic one hundred and two year old El Tovar hotel this review will tell you what you need to know.
I’ll start off with my personal favorite place to stay if visiting the Grand Canyon. The national forest right outside of the park entrance gate. You are allowed to camp for free for up to two weeks at a time there. There isn’t a designated camping area unless you pay to go to the TenX campground, but I would recommend just saving your money. There is a convenient place to stay that most people go to when camping for free in the national forest. If your going down 64 towards the Grand Canyon you’ll see the airport on your left just as your coming into the town of Tusayan, which is only about 8 miles from the rim. As soon as you pass the airport turn left on to Long Jim Loop road. This is a road that winds to the right up a hill. Be sure to follow it to the right instead of taking either of the dirt roads that you’ll see when you get to the top. Continue down the road and you’ll hit 3 speed bumps and come to a stop sign. All these trailers you see are mostly employee housing for the airport. Keep going straight and the road will turn into a dirt road. You’ll see little clearings to your left where you can pull in and set up camp! You’ll most likely see other campers there also. Be sure to check with the forest service before starting any fires as they may often ban them during the dry times.
The El Tovar Hotel is considered to be the flagship of the Grand Canyon. It just celebrated it’s hundredth anniversary two years ago by getting refurbished. The hotel itself sits directly on the rim and provides spectacular views. It’s not uncommon to see mule deer and elk grazing on the lawns. The hotel is complete with an upscale restaurant and room service also. The lobby is adorned with plush sofas and chairs and decorated with taxidermied animals on the walls. This 78 room lodge also offers an excellent gift shop to ensure that you’ll have that perfect keepsake to remember your time there. The El Tovar Hotel can be reached through the switchboard of their concessioner, Xanterra, at 928-638-2631. They also have a website for the El Tovar here.
If you would still like to stay right on the rim of the Grand Canyon but are looking for something a bit more economical then the Bright Angel Lodge is the recommended choice. The Bright Angel Lodge was built in 1935 and designed by the famous architect, Mary Colter. There is a lot going on at this lodge as it has two restaurants, the Bright Angel restaurant and the Arizona room, a gift shop, a bar(coffee shop in the morning), a museum, ice cream fountain, and the terminus of the transportation department(go there to sign up for a mule ride to the bottom of the canyon!). The rooms vary between hotel style lodging and private cabin rooms. The Bright Angel Lodge is also ran by the concessioner, Xanterra, and can be reached through the same switchboard number at 928-638-2631. The website for the Bright Angel Lodge can be found here.
A vacation to the Grand Canyon can be a memory to treasure for a lifetime. Whether your a well off retiree or a broke college student there is a place there for everybody. Just remember that April through September is the busiest season and the park can be absolutely packed during this time. It’s best to make your plans and reservations months in advance. Most importantly, enjoy your stay!