One of the World’s Severn Natural Wonders the Grand Canyon is one of America’s most visited National Parks and a real National Treasure. One of the Canyons’ defining qualities is its sheer size, it is also not really near anywhere and is a remote and wild place. This all means visiting it in a single day from Las Vegas or Pheonix is not really Practicable, hence you are going to need somewhere to overnight, especially if you plan on doing more than just seeing the canyon. If you want to Hike, Explore watch the sunrise or sunset, then you are going to need a place close by to rest your head.
Fortunately, there are several options and this article looks at where to stay near the Grand Canyon South Rim. We take a look at all the options available, Show you the Best Places to Stay at the Grand Canyon and take a look at all the top hotels in the area.
There is no doubt some options are better than others, but some are just different and will suit different people for different reasons. Not everyone wants to hike 10 miles and camp in the backcountry, and not everyone wants to splurge $600 on a Rim side Suite!
Your basic three options are Staying in one of the official National Park Lodges, Staying Just outside in Tusayan, or camping in one of the campgrounds.
Inside the Park
Staying inside the park is easily the most rewarding, convenient, and exciting place to stay when visiting the Canyon. There are several official Lodges and Hotels and many of these are right on the Canyon Rim! Getting a room with a canyon view is really the stuff of dreams!
The downside is these are not cheap places to stay and they do book up very quickly, a room overlooking the canyon will easily set you back $300 a night. However, there are some cheaper options, and if you book early you can definitely grab a bargain and still be inside one of America’s most famous National Parks.
Without a doubt, the BEST location to Stay in the Grand Canyon National Park is Phantom Ranch! However before we get you too excited, you are probably NOT staying here! Their rates are quite reasonable, $169 for a Cabin! And the location is just about perfect nestled right at the bottom of the Canyon near to the Colorado River! So what is the Issue?
Well, the availability is… problematic! These Cabins are allocated via a lottery 15 months in advance! And participation is very high. We honestly can’t tell you what the Cabins are like as we have never been successful, you pretty much have to enter every month and be ready just to go, 15 months later if you win!
We honestly can’t think of any better way to experience the Canyon but the fact they are so awesome makes them very hard to come by!
Bright Angel Lodge is really a bit of a bargain with rooms in the lodge starting at only $112 (+tax) per night or $179 for your own Rustic Cabin on the Rim it is very hard to look past the Bright Angel.
Its position is enviable, to say the least, overlooking the canyon. The rooms are rustic but actually pretty well-appointed and have a modern touch, you certainly are not slumming it! While some room lacks their own bathrooms, to upgrade to a Bathroom unit is only a few $more. The Lodge rooms do not overlook the Canyon but you are just steps from the rim and have full access to the Rim Trail and the Shuttle busses that will run you anywhere you need to go. The Historic Cabins do have Partial Views and these start at $278 which is steep but for a cabin overlooking the Grand Canyon, it’s not too bad really!
At the total other end of the Spectrum is El Tovar. This is the showcase hotel of the Grand Canyon Village and it is pretty spectacular. The Rustic clifftop lodge sits pride of place at the entrance. The Euro Styled Alpine lodge was built at the turn of the century and has been the Premier destination within the park for over a 100years. The feel of the Hotel is one of incredible history and grandeur, you really are staying in the same hotel as some seriously historic figures, Roosevelt, Einstien, Bill Clinton, Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, and many others. When the Rich and famous visit the Cayon this is where they stay!
On the Flipside, this high level of prestige is not cheap, and more than any other the availability is poor. Also, the basic rooms ($278-$363 per night) are not actually all that special. The furniture is vintage but it’s not particularly rustic or antique, just old. Yes, the suites are phenomenal but at over $600 a night, they better be! Really we struggle to justify the cost of the El Tovar, it is a wonderful building and arriving here is something really special, but you can easily stay and a cheaper hotel and just visit the el Tovar, if you can afford one of the suites, then go for it, but they are out of most peoples league!
Nestled behind the El Tovar are the Kachina and Thunderbird Lodges, both are separate properties but are so alike we can address them together, there really is little to separate them.
$266 gets you a night in either lodge but the star of the show here is the Canyon View Rooms! Priced at $335 on average these rooms overlook the canyon and possess a view that any hotelier would die for! The rooms themselves are nothing special. They are far more modern than the other lodges and are best described as functional. The feel is more chain motel than a historic lodge.
That is a lot of money for a basic hotel room and if we were booking the Standard rooms we would definitely consider Bright Angel lodge first! However, if a Canyon view is important then these are the best choices. Seriously though do ask yourself first, how much that view is really worth! Remember rooms here and at Bright Angel lodge without a view are mere steps from the Rim Trail. you are staying right on the very edge of the GC and you will spend 99% of your day looking at it! Do you REALLY need to be able to see it right out of your window? And the rooms do not have epic floor-to-ceiling windows where you can relax in an armchair enjoying the view, you would have to stand at the window to gaze down into the canyon, how, much of your stay would you really spend doing that? Especially when the better view is standing by the rail, with all the other tourists who are now blocking your view!
It’s a tough choice as we all want the BEST and having a Canyon view room is pretty special but we wonder if that money could not be better spent!
Probably our least favorite of the Main Lodges. Mainly due to its location, being right on the rim is so special and the Maswik Lodge is a whole 5 MINUTES walk to the rim! We know that is not the end of the world and really it would be fine however the prices do not really reflect its Sub-Par location! At $262+ they are nearly double the Bright Angel Lodge!
That said, Apart from the mind-blowing Suites at El Tovar, these are probably our favorite rooms at the Canyon, They are larger and more comfy than the others and really just nicer places to be. It is also incredibly peaceful and a really relaxing place to stay just set back into the woods away from the hustle and bustle.
We just think the prices are a touch High and just struggle to pay so much when Bright Angel has such an enviable location! Of course, if the other options are all booked up, then we would not hesitate to stay here, but it is not our first choice!
By far the worst located is the Yavapai Lodge. Over a mile walk to the rim, the Lodge relays on the free shuttle buses to get you around, which is less than ideal. The Lodge is still inside the park so it’s better than the Outside options but only marginally so. For the price (around $200 a night) we think you can do better.
Of Course, the RV park is a different story! There are not that many RV Parks inside National Park Boundaries and bringing your own accommodation is a great way to see the whole area, whether you are on a Route 66 Odeosey or just touring the Grand Canyon area having power and water to hook up to is a godsend!
Outside of the Park
Staying in the park is a pretty incredible experience but it is not completely necessary to enjoy a night or two at the Grand Canyon, The Gateway town of Yuysan is a mere 10-15 minutes away by car and there are even FREE shuttle buses running between the Park and the Town.
Prices for hotels are far more reasonable and there are a large number of affordable dining options, even a Mcdonald’s. The whole town has a more familiar relaxed “small town” USA feel and is the perfect place to retire to and just lay your head.
Getting to and from the ark is no issue and even if you plan on staying in the park real late to catch the simply breathtaking stars or rising a the crack of dawn for the Sunrise the drive into the park is no drama at all.
Rim-Side hotels inside the park are the stuff of dreams, but staying in Tusayan is the next best thing and avoids a lot of the expense of staying in one of the park’s more expensive lodges. And you really get a lot more for your money in these large more upscale hotels, you just won’t be waking up right on the Rim, but again, if you are planning on spending ALL day in the park, do you NEED to be right on the rim?
Best Hotels in Tusayan
- Location – Tusayan
- Price – $150-200 per night
- Best For – Luxury
Probably our favorite hotel in the Grand Canyon area, the Grand Hotel has a real luxury feel about it. The Upscale hunting lodge vibe fits perfectly with the area (although the Trophy heads on display may not be to some people’s tastes). Rooms are large and well-appointed with excellent beds, they are everything the Rooms at the Park Hotels are not.
The prices are far more competitive than the Park Hotels and at $150 a night, all-in (you may even score a lower rate at quiet times) is very reasonable for what you are getting. This is actually an official Park Hotel, but as you are outside park boundaries that does not really matter. If you are looking for a large, comfortable room at a much friendlier price then the Grand Hotel is a great choice. If we ignore the location, the only place better to rest your head at the Grand Canyon is the El Tovar Suites, and they start at $600 a night!
Also unlike any of the Rim Hotels, the Grand has a pool, which can be very pleasant, especially after a hard day hiking, floating in the pool can really ease aching joints and battered muscles!
- Location – Tusayan
- Price – $150-200 per night
- Best For – Modern Contemporary feel
Not Far behind the Grand is the Best Western Premier. The feel here is far more contemporary, if mounted stag heads are not your thing then the more modern feel here will suit you far better. But apart from the general aesthetics, there is little to choose between this and the Grand Hotel. There are two pools (indoor and outdoor), a Fitness Suite, a host of restaurants and bars, and everything you need to relax away from the Canyon. We are not sure why anyone would use a gym when one of nature’s finest fitness suites is right on your doorstep, but hey, we are all different.
Location is Identical to the Grand, just across the street, and as a whole, it really is down to preference and taste as to which to choose, the more rustic atmospheric Grand Hotel or the contemporary, modern Best Western. Both are great choices.
- Location – Tusayan
- Price – $150-200 per night, Breakfast Included
- Best For – A place to Lay your head
When you consider breakfast is included at the Holiday Inn Express then it is the best value Hotel in the area. There isn’t much more to say about it. A holiday inn is pretty much exactly as you would expect. Clean, comfortable, reasonably maintained, and everything you need, but not much else.
For many, a visit to the Grand Canyon is all about the Canyon and all that is needed for a Hotel is a place to lay your head. The Holiday Inn provides just that. If you want to focus more on the Canyon and less on the Hotel what you see is what you get, a no-frills, high-value, chain hotel.
Our biggest criticism is the fact it’s not actually much cheaper than the competition when you factor in breakfast, it is better value, but you do get a lot more hotel for your money across the road at the Grand or the Best Western! And we are often up and gone way before the breakfast buffet opens to catch the Sunrise!
Red Feather Lodge
- Location – Tusayan
- Price – $130-180 per night
- Best For – If the others are full?
This may sound a bit harsh as there is nothing wrong with the Red Feather lodge at all. It’s just not really our first choice. Rooms are similar sizes to the other hotels but are a bit more dated in the appointments department. If you can bag a great rate then it is certainly a consideration but normally the hotel is similarly priced to the much better options available.
There is nothing to really dislike but then nothing to really sell the Red Feather.
- Location – Tusayan
- Price – $150-200 per night
- Best For – Families
The Grand Canyon Plaza would rank about the same as the red feather except they offer some really fantastic rates on Family rooms. If you have kids staying with you you can bag a Family Suite, sleeping up to 4 for the same price, or lower than a standard room either here or in the other Tusayan Hotels.
The Plaza is a decent hotel but like the Red Feather, there is just nothing outstanding. Everything is ok and nice, but nothing to escalate it above a cheap and convenient place to sleep!
- Location – Tusayan
- Price – $150-200 per night
- Best For – Longer Stays
If you are staying a little longer and looking for something a little more self-sustained where you can cook a few meals yourself as you really explore the canyon then the Canyon Plaza offers a selection of Apartments and Studios featuring Kitchenettes, a Dining area, and a Balcony. Don’t expect too much, even their Deluxe Suites are basic, to say the least, but if you are after a longer stay at the Park these can be very convenient, with the main draw being able to cook your own meals which could save you serious money and avoid hitting McDonald’s every night!
Visiting National Parks is all about getting back to nature and the best way to do this is camping! There are several options for Camping in the Park and most get you right back to the wild!
The Largest Campground is situated on the Rim behind Yavapai Lodge and trailer park. The campground has good amenities and offers water, power, showers, and campfires. The Site is located a good mile hike from the rim in a wooded area where you really can expect the wildlife to just wander through the camp.
Small RV’s and trailer tents are also welcome here (Larger RV’s use the Yavapai Trailer Park). Camping costs $18 and night for up to six people (2 tents).
Desert View Campground
At the far side of the Park in the quieter and more remote Desert View Area is the Desert View Campsite. A stone’s throw from the Rim (and probably the most spectacular view anywhere along the canyon) sits this small and remote campground.
There are only 50 Pitches and they are on a first-come-first-served basis. This makes securing a place here a bit of a gamble, but it really is worth it, the night sky here is truly remarkable, and the quiet peacefulness of being literally in the wilderness allows the stress and worry of modern life to just melt away. There are few amenities, just restrooms with no hot water, a couple of water faucets, and a few campfire locations. It is very sparse very remote and totally wonderful. Only $12 a night from the automated payment machines!
Bright Angel Campground
Bright Angel Campground is one of the most wonderful locations anywhere in America. Nestled down in the bottom of the canyon next to the Bright Angel River and only a short hike from the Colorado River. This is nature as it is intended to be, remote rugged rustic, and utterly wonderful.
You cannot reserve the Bright Angel and will NEED a Back Country Permit to stay here. There are also no roads, so you will need to hike in, and out. You can organize Mules to lug your load (and even yourself), but this is all about getting back to the wilds in one of the most remote and beautiful locations imaginable. Lying beneath a billion stars at the bottom of one of the 7 natural wonders of the world is real life-affirming stuff! It’s a lot of effort but SO worth it.
There are several other camping locations in the Back Country all requiring a permit. These are for the more serious hikers and are probably beyond the scope of this article.
Grand Canyon Camper Village
Outside the Park in a privately owned Campground the Grand Canyon Camper village doe not have much going for it really. It is perfectly fine but with the options available in the park being so cheap, we just don’t know why you would choose this site, maybe if all the others are full?
A little Further Away?
If you are looking to just visit the Cayon for a day then you can consider a location just a bit further away, there are pretty slim pickings really as the Canyon is really remote and your best bets are Inside the Park or Tusayan.
Closest City to the Park, but still a good 80 miles drive to the canyon though
A little closer with fewer dining and hotel options but will be cheap and can save a few minutes on your drive to the Canyon.
The closest built-up area to the Desert View Entrance, not the most breathtaking place to spend the night. Don’t let the word City fool you, this is a small town.
With only a few stores, basic dining options, and very limited accommodation, Cameron barely makes the list, but it is an option and the closest you can get to the East entrance.
Page, Arizona is a great place to stay and has access to many great attractions such as Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powel, and Antelope Canyon. But it is a bit far really unless you are headed to the canyon AFTER staying here as part of a road trip, in which case you will still want to stay somewhere closer as well!
Pheonix is too far really to stay if you are visiting the canyon but is a good staging post. You may want to spend a night here if you have flown in late, or just want to rest after visiting the canyon.
Again too far to really use as a base, but we normally start and end our Canyon trips in Vegas. The Stark contrast between the Vegas lights and the natural beauty of the canyon helps you appreciate both!
Have Your Say
Where do you Stay when Visiting the Grand Canyon? let us know your favorite hotels and places to stay? Do you like the comfort of a hotel or the back-to-nature aspect of camping? Do you insist on being on the rim or take the budget option in Tusayan? Whatever you want to share just fire away in the comments below. And if you have any questions we are glad to help out!