In every way, the Grand Canyon is an amazing experience. It has so much to offer to campers and visitors alike: activities, adventures, and lodging or camping at every level.
Whether you’re a seasoned camper ready to rough it, or you just want to get your toes wet with the idea of camping, or to stay in a luxurious hotel, the Grand Canyon is the perfect place to do it. If you’re on a budget or if money is no issue, you will find something to your liking at the Grand Canyon.
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If you are looking for a true camping adventure, you can pitch your tents in the Mather Camp Ground and rough it to your heart’s desire. The tent camp grounds are pristine and absolutely give you the feeling of being immersed in nature. If you’re an early riser, you will frequently awake to discover elks roaming around your tent and those of your neighbors, so be sure to seal up all your food and throw away all your garbage before you call it a night. The camp grounds have plenty of water dispenser stations with cool clean spring water for filling up your water bottles. There is also a shower and laundry facility on site where you can take a shower and wash your clothes for a of couple dollars.
If you have an RV that you take with you on your camping adventures to be able to experience some comforts of home while being able to enjoy the feeling of travel and camping in new and exotic locations, there are plenty of RV camp sites in their own section of the Mather Camp Ground. However, if you want a site with an electrical plug to power your utilities you will need to reserve your plot ahead of time. The RV sites also have use of the shower and laundry facilities.
Hotels and Lodges
There are many different lodging options available for those of you who don’t want to camp and don’t have an RV. Everything from a small cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge to your typical hotel type of accommodation at the BZFLAGina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, or El Tovar. All of which are situated right in the park and near the rim of the canyon, if not directly on the rim. There are even a select number of cabins down in the bottom of the canyon at the Phantom Ranch for a truly unique experience. Although for the Phantom Ranch you will be expected to carry your belongings down the 7 mile hike and back up to the ridge at the end of your stay.
Quite simply – NO! Of course you can take public transport to Las Vegas, or even to random places just outside of the city, but there is little to no public transport running to the Grand Canyon itself, or to any of the tourist hot spots in the area. More importantly, if you are visiting on limited time, then you’ll spend most of it just trying to get there and not enough actually enjoying one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world.
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The best way to visit the Grand Canyon is by private car, either your own or by renting one. Car rental is relatively affordable in the US and it’s one of the easiest places to drive in the world. Most importantly, the extra time and freedom of having your own car and being able to explore at your own pace is priceless.
All the benefits of a private car, with the added bonus of travel buddies! An increasingly popular to way travel between destinations is to find ride shares, where you search online for friendly drivers who are heading where you’re heading. You connect with them through a number of channels, many of which can be found and compared through , then arrange your trip and share the expenses. Not only do you get a direct ride in a private car, but you have a like-minded travel buddy to share time, experiences and stories with.
, and General Store
One of the many reasons that I think camping in the Grand Canyon is ideal for families not heavily experienced with camping is the Canyon Village Market which is a grocery store, general store, and deli all in one! Not sure what food stuffs you will need for your first time camping? Or did you forget to buy the hot dogs? Maybe you don’t have any skewers? Forgot a sleeping pad for one family member? No problem! This place has all your grocery and camping essentials. The prices are jacked up on some things, such as energy bars selling for $2-$2.50 but in general the prices are fair and the ease of access and variety cannot be beat for the first time camper who might realize too late what essentials they neglected to bring. Are you or perhaps your children getting tired of eating camp fare of oatmeal, burgers, and cold cut sandwiches? Stop in at the Deli where they offer breakfast sandwiches in the morning and a selection of cold or hot sandwiches, subs, and even pizzas for lunch and dinner.
If you’re staying in one of the lodges or if you just want to treat yourself to a great meal after a couple of days of camping there are a wide variety of restaurants which can be found at the various lodges throughout the park. I treated myself to a great steak dinner at the after doing a 14-mile hike in a single day and it was exactly what my aching legs and rumbling belly needed.
If you want some prepared food but don’t want to wait while it’s made, is the place for you. Located near the rim in Maswik Lodge you will find four different stations of grab and go food which you can take to go or sit and quickly chow down before heading out to see the sights.
The Best Way to Experience the Grand Canyon
There are many different ways for you to experience the Grand Canyon. Millions of people visit the canyon every year. However they only get a small part of the experience. They get off a tour bus or get out of their car, and after they ooh and ahh at the rim viewpoints, they get back in their vehicle and turn around. Little do they know how much they are missing! No matter how adventurous you and your travel companions are, there is a more in depth method of visiting the Grand Canyon.
There are several companies that offer Helicopter tours based out of each rim of the canyon. Everything ranging from a short flight over the canyon for a top down view, to a soaring tour down inside the weaving valleys and towering cliffs of the canyon, with a catered champagne picnic at your destination!
White Water Rafting
If touring Colorado River while gazing up at the beautiful red walls of the Canyon is more your speed, you are in luck. Tours are offered for every level of adventure seeker, ranging from a leisurely float to a motor propelled white water thrill!
Hike the Canyon
This is my personal favorite. There is no more fulfilling experience of the Grand Canyon than walking through it by the power of your own two legs. There are many day hikes available along the Bright Angel Trail and the Kabib Trail. Or for the camper, there are overnight hikes available with various camp sites throughout the canyon. However, a permit is required to camp in the canyon overnight. Check in at the local “back country office” to inquire about the available permits.
Guided Mule Tours
Don’t want to spend hours sweating and hiking through the canyon but want the experience? Hop on a Mule and be led through the Grand Canyon by a knowledgeable guide. Exploring the Canyon on the back of a mule is a time honored and historic way of exploring everything it has to offer.
No matter how luxurious or rustic you want your stay to be and no matter how in depth or brief, camping in the Grand Canyon has everything you are looking for.
About the Writer
John is a Nurse by trade. Recently having decided to make his passion for travel a priority in life, he switched from working at one hospital to working in many all over the United States as a Traveling Nurse. Now he uses the greater freedom his job provides to explore everything the back roads of the US have to offer, while working as a nurse 6 months a year. The remaining 6 months a year, he dedicates to traveling abroad, seeing as much of the world as possible, and working on his writing and photography.
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