Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon -Standing on the edge of the South Rim, elbow to elbow on each southern circle filled with dozens of photographing tourists, it can be hard to think of the Grand Canyon as a real adventure location. The incredible views across the South Rim offer a direct way to the roaring Colorado River and the bottom of the canyon itself. Where you can spend a night or two at the famous Phantom Ranch, and this is one of the secrets of the natural beauty of the South Rim.
Stay in South Rim
Before you reach Phantom Ranch, of course, you have to start somewhere. From the South Rim, there is either the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel trail, both of which can be accessed from the center of the Grand Canyon Village tourist area either by foot or by shuttle bus.
Whether you’re planning hikes, walking trips, or leisurely sightseeing expeditions, your best bet for accommodation is staying near the waterfront. There are 907 rooms within the park, all owned and operated by Xanterra South Rim LLC, a subsidiary of the Xanterra company that manages lodging and concessions in many other United States national parks. Most accommodation near the Rim is housed in Maswik and Yavapai huts, which are functional cabins or motel-style rooms.
Tips for Getting Lodging in South Rim
The Best Time to Visit
In general, the two-week period following a major holiday will be less crowded than other dates. This even applies to summer, where the best availability comes in the first two weeks of June (right after Memorial Day) or the first two weeks of September. The last two weeks of August are also less touristy. January is the slowest month of the year, with November and February closed.
There is no penalty for cancellations on the South Rim until 48 hours prior to arrival. That means lots of travelers book rooms ahead of time, then cancel at the last minute freeing up rooms for spontaneous travelers (or just luck coming). Most rooms can be booked online or through the general reservation line.
Visit in Spring and Autumn
The best experiences in the Grand Canyon will come in the spring and fall. The four seasons have something different to offer. The South Rim in spring and fall feels like a different place in winter. Plus, it’s less crowded and offers better lodging options. But even in the summer months, if you are willing to take a short walk from the attractions you can find relaxing solitude.
Visit Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon
Phantom Ranch or ranch is the only lodging facility at the bottom of the canyon. (There is also a campground nearby, but for the purposes of this article we will focus on the Phantom Ranch). The ranch was completed in 1922 and is now open year-round. Rooms for the night consist of male and female rooms, dormitory-style, for hikers, and more comfortable cabins reserved mostly for overnight mule riders.
There are only three ways to reach Phantom Ranch: on foot, by mule, or by raft. Stays at Phantom Ranch can be booked up to 13 months in advance, which is usually the case.
Best time to visit Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon
If you hike to Phantom Ranch in the summer and haven’t booked a year in advance, your best bet is August when the canyon is hottest and demand for accommodation drops slightly. It doesn’t matter when you go, it tends to be hot. The canyon is very rugged even for conditioned climbers, and it is imperative to bring plenty of drinking water.
The National Park Service recommends that you drink about a liter of water per hour when you hike in the summer.
Best Route at Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon
The safest and most diverse route for hikers is down the South Kaibab trail and up the Bright Angel trail, as there is water available at three points in Bright Angel and not at Kaibab. You’ll want to refill the water as often as possible above. On the way back to the top of the canyon from Phantom Ranch, start early.
Start the journey in time before sunrise. Step up yourself and don’t be in a hurry. Hike the trail until around 10:00 am, then find a shady spot to stop and rest. If you take the Bright Angel trail and are in good shape, you might be able to reach Indian Gardens by mid-morning, and it’s a good place to rest and then make a side trip to Plateau Point while waiting for the sun before heading back uphill.
Equipment to Bring
The kit is extremely lightweight, even for overnight or longer trips. You won’t need more than drinking water, your boots, climbing poles, snacks for the trail, medicine box, toiletries, and a light change of clothes. Phantom Ranch can provide lunch and dinner if you book in advance. The National Park Service has a lot of good information about preparing for a hike.
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Make Good Use of the Time When you Visit
That the average tourist visit to the South Rim lasts only about 15 minutes. That means just enough time to take pictures, see your surroundings, and be on your way. Too bad. The Grand Canyon IMAX film that shows just down the road from the South Rim offers a similar experience, air-conditioned, and feels like you don’t have to come in person if you only visit for a moment.
The canyon that exists is meant to be seen, yes, but also to be explored. This is America’s greatest adventure, a gem at the top of the national park system. It’s much more than just a hole in the ground, but you can only find it by wandering into its depths.
The right thing to do, of course, strikes a balance. Choose the right type of Grand Canyon experience for your interests and fitness level. Then use the tips mentioned here to maximize your time during your visit there.