Tips for Camping at Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP), with its impressive vistas and unique flora and fauna, may be one of the most breathtaking natural attractions in the United States. A great way of immersing yourself in its beauty is by camping in the park. Despite the challenges of GNCP’s rugged terrain and sometimes harsh weather conditions, multiple camping options exist, each designed to accommodate varying tolerance levels. From relatively luxurious recreational vehicle camping accommodations to wild, backcountry tent options, we’ve compiled some helpful tips for Grand Canyon campers.
The Grand Canyon’s high desert location can make for dramatic scenery, but sometimes harsh weather conditions. Extreme summer heat, winter snows and flash flooding can all contribute to uncomfortable or potentially dangerous conditions, says the National Park Service (NPS), which limits campground access in most locations to about mid-May to mid-October each year. Timing may vary slightly by campground and by year, so check the park’s page often for updates. If you want to camp outside of those dates (or in backcountry, non-designated camping areas), you’ll need a special backcountry permit to do so in most parts of the park. Note that many park campgrounds close during the off season, so RVs and other vehicles may have no or limited access to hookups.
It’s also important to be aware of essential resources and safety considerations prior to camping at GCNP, including the following, says the NPS:
- Generally speaking, the South Rim of the park has more resources and is easier to get to than the North Rim, so prepare accordingly. For example, there are more restaurants, shops, and other services available in the South Rim, says the NPS.
- Inclement weather conditions, including extreme heat, storms with lightning, and snow can make for hazardous camping. Check park weather forecasts and advisories regularly.
- Make sure your RV or other vehicle is in good condition, with plenty of fuel, and bring along essential repair tools (vehicle jack, spare tire, etc.). A basic car repair shop is available in the South Rim, but for any major repair needs, your vehicle will need to be towed to nearby cities.
- Be aware of and avoid interacting with potentially dangerous park animals, such as snakes. Keep your distance from and do not feed elk, deer or squirrels, says the NPS.
South Rim Camping Options
Camping in the South Rim is a popular option, due to easier access to Grand Canyon Village resources, such as a medical clinic, post office, grocery store and shops. According to the NPS, a variety of South Rim camping options exist, including the following popular camp sites:
- The Mather Campground. It offers both RV and tent camping with no hookups, and is one of the few park campgrounds open year-round, weather permitting. Nightly fees are under $20, and nearby bathroom, shower and laundry facilities are available. Pets must be leashed at all times, and charcoal and wood fires are permitted in campsite grills only. There is a 30-foot trailer or RV size maximum.
- Trailer Village. Open year-round, this concessionaire-operated campground offers full RV hookups. All pets must be leashed, and only charcoal fires are permitted. The cost is approximately $35 plus tax for two people; additional changes apply for extra campers.
- The Desert View Campground. It is located 26 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, offers 50 campsites with no hookups, and the campsites are designed to accommodate tents, as well as smaller RVs and travel trailers. There are restrooms, but no shower facilities at Desert View, so prepare for a more rustic adventure. Camping fees are under $20 per space per night, and are filled on a first come, first served basis. No reservations are accepted.
North Rim Camping Options
While the North Rim may be more difficult to access, many campers enjoy the greater challenge of its rugged environment. The NPS‘s popular North Rim campground, includes:
- The North Rim Campground is open May 15-Oct. 31 of most years, and offers tent and RV camping with no hookups for a nightly fee of about $18-$25. Coin-operated laundry and showers are available, and pets must be leashed at all times. Reservations are required.
- During the winter months (between Nov. 1 and May 15) backpackers and winter sports enthusiasts are permitted to use the North Rim Campground’s group campsite if they’ve obtained a backcountry use permit in advance. The highway into the park closes in the winter, so RV and vehicle camping is prohibited during those times.
The Grand Canyon’s majesty is a delight best enjoyed firsthand. With a little preparation, your camping adventure can bring you closer to one of the greatest natural destinations in the U.S.
For more information and to make reservations, visit www.recreation.gov.