Guide to Camping in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Grand Canyon National Park - Camping Guide

Camping on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim gives you access to a variety of amenities including the park’s free shuttle system, the park’s most popular trails, greenways for biking, Skywalk, and numerous museums and historic sites.

There are also plenty of options of incredible backwoods camping experiences that are unlike any other you’ll find in the world.

Of course, these attractions also draw large crowds, which can make finding a vacancy at one of Grand Canyon’s campgrounds or landing a backwoods camping permit a challenge, to say the least.

In this article, we’ll review the top campgrounds in the South Rim part of the park and present strategies for landing a reservation.

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Campgrounds in Grand Canyon South Rim

Mather Campground

  • Type : Tent / RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $18 to $25 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

With its location in the Grand Canyon Village, Mather Campground offers excellent access to the park’s attractions and various amenities. This campground is nestled beneath large Ponderosa pines, Juniper trees, and Pinyon providing most sites with plenty of shade coverage. It’s conveniently located just one mile from the canyon rim and just a short shuttle ride to the Visitors Center.

Campers can also access a paved greenway from the campground, which offers numerous scenic overlooks for viewing the canyon. Trailheads for Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails are also nearby.

The facility features 327 campsites for both RV and tent camping. These sizeable campsites include a campfire ring with a cooking grate, picnic table, and enough room for up to three tents.

Amenities include flush toilets and access to potable water. There are no utility hookups; however, there is a free dump station on site.

Desert View Campground

  • Type : Tent / RV
  • Open : April 15 to October 15
  • Cost : $18 to $25 per night
  • Reservation : No

Desert View Campground offers a tranquil setting and spectacular views from its perch on the South Rim’s edge near the park’s east entrance. It features 50 sites for both tents and RVs and is located about 26 miles from Grand Canyon Village. Each site includes a campfire grill. Tall Ponderosa pines provide plenty of shade cover.

On-site is one of famed architect Grand Canyon structures: the Desert View Watchtower. Climb to the top of this 70-foot tower for an amazing view of the canyon and the Colorado River.

Campsites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. RVs are limited to a maximum length of 30 feet. There are no utility hook-ups available at this campground. Amenities include flush toilets and sinks. Navajo Point camp store is within walking distance.

Trailer Village

  • Type : RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $49 to $62 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

If dry camping isn’t your thing, then make plans to park your RV at Trailer Village when you visit the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Trailer Village is the only in-park RV park with full utility hookups. It features paved pull-through sites that can handle RVs up to 50 feet long.

Trailer Village is conveniently located just a 1-mile walk to the South Rim via the paved Greenway Trail, eliminating the need to drive and find parking at the busy Visitor Center. Trailer Village is also about a half-mile from Camper Services, which features showers and a coin-operated laundromat.

The park’s free shuttle bus system stops at the campground every 15 minutes.

Trailer Village is a popular campground, so make reservations as early as possible. Reservations at the campground can be made up to 13 months in advance.

Indian Garden

  • Type : Backwoods
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $10 backcountry permit
  • Reservation : Yes

Cut your car or camper loose and immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon experience with a backwoods camping trip at Indian Garden. Reaching this site requires you to hike about two-thirds of the way down into the canyon with a full backpack, sleeping bag, and a small backpacking tent.

Though this is certainly a physical challenge, the rewards are worth it, The campground is located juts off Bright Angel Trail nestled among cottonwood trees and willows beside a creek. The campground gets its name from the Native Americans that once lived here.

Each campsite includes a picnic table, shade structure, pack pole, and food storage cans. At just three miles round trip, Plateau Point is an excellent day-hike option from the campground. Don’t forget to pack a camp stove for cooking and a good sleeping pad.

Backwoods camping requires a permit, which you can apply for up to 4 weeks in advance. Make sure to make requests early as these are highly sought after sites.

Bright Angel

  • Type : Backwoods
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $10 backcountry permit
  • Reservation : Yes

This popular backwoods campground sits just north of the Colorado River on the banks of Bright Angel Creek at the bottom of the canyon. Cottonwood trees help shade the sites, which either line the creek or the base of the South Rim’s cliff walls.

Nearby Phantom Ranch Canteen, which features snacks, games, and cold lemonade and beer, is just a short half-mile hike away. Not game on carrying a full pack 8 miles to the bottom (and then back out again)? You can also rent a mule to carry your gear for you.

Numerous trails head out from this campground, allowing you to continue your exploration of the canyon. Bright Angel is one of the most popular backcountry campgrounds at the park, so make sure to apply for your backcountry permit early.

Ten-X Campground

  • Type : Tent / RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $20
  • Reservation : Yes

Ten-X Campground is conveniently located just four miles south of the park’s entrance, putting it close to popular South Rim. It features 70 campsites in a forest of Ponderosa Pines and Gambel oaks.

At 6,600 feet, this campground is at a lower elevation than other park campgrounds. As such, summer temps can reach into the 90s during the day. Ten-X includes both reservable and non-reservable first come first serve campsites.

The campground is just four miles from the town of Tusayan, which offers helicopter rides, horseback riding, and other tour options.

Amenities at this campground include fire rings, camp tables, and tent pads. Ten-X also offers flush toilets and potable water. There are no utility hookups at this campground.

Camping Tips for Grand Canyon National Park

  • Apply for a backwoods permit early. Backwoods camping in Grand Canyon National Park is one of a kind experience, which is why it can be so hard to get a permit. The park receives more than 30,000 requests for backcountry permits each year. Of those, just 13,000 permits are issued. With this in mind, submit your requests early. The park accepts applications four months out, so apply early for the best chance to get one.
  • Book early. The park’s South Rim is the most popular side, receiving more than 90 percent of the park’s visitors. With that in mind, booking a reservation at one of the campgrounds is difficult, especially during peak periods. The Grand Canyon National Park will take reservations up to 13 months in advance, so book early.
  • Be prepared in the summer. Backwoods camping on the canyon floor is an amazing experience. It’s also fraught with danger. Temperatures in the summer can easily reach in the triple digits at these lower elevations. Make sure you have ample water with you and that you know where the water sources are located. Water bottles and sunscreen are essentials.
  • Go in off-peak seasons. Camping can be best enjoyed during the off-peak seasons. There are fewer crowds and the weather is milder. This means you can take longer hikes to the canyon floor and more enjoyable temperatures for hanging out at camp or sleeping at night. It also means less competition for campsites.
  • Be dry camp ready. With a few exceptions, most campgrounds in and around the park do not offer full utility hook-ups. You can be more flexible with your RV if you are prepared to dry camp.
  • Use the shuttle. While finding a campground near the visitors center or certain attractions is great, you can also use the park’s free shuttle system, which visits all of the campgrounds in the park and near the entrances. This eliminates having to find parking at the visitor center.

Gaby Pilson

Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.