Looking for where to sleep on your next Grand Canyon National Park adventure? If you want to camp, there are campgrounds inside the park at both the South Rim and North Rim, as well as outside the park. We’ve created the ultimate campground guide to give you everything you need to know about where to camp, where to get reservations, what’s closest to the park and what type of amenities are offered, including what’s accessible to RVs. Read on to learn more.
Can I Camp Anywhere in the Grand Canyon?
If you’re wondering if you can just drive up to the Grand Canyon and start setting up your tent, the answer is no. Grand Canyon National Park has four established campgrounds, three on the park’s more popular South Rim and one on the North Rim, which is less-visited and closed in the winter.
On the South Rim, you can make advance reservations through Recreation.gov for Mather Campground and Desert View Campground. In fact, advance reservations are required for Desert View Campground. Reservations for Trailer Village RV Campground can be made at VisitGrandCanyon.com since it is run by a private concessionaire, not the park service.
On the North Rim, you can make advance reservations for the North Rim Campground at Recreation.gov, as well. Because the park is so popular, it’s best to make reservations in advance to make sure you actually can get a camping site. Read more about this campground in the North Rim section of this piece.
The park also has three backcountry campgrounds tucked deep in the canyon that you can only reach by hiking to them or riding a mule: Indian Garden Campground, Bright Angel Campground and Cottonwood Campground. In the case of the Bright Angel Campground, you can also reach it by rafting the Colorado River and pulling over near the campground. All three of these require backcountry permits that you have to fill out an application for. There is no guarantee you will get your permit since competition is high. You can only spend up to two nights (consecutive or nonconsecutive) per campground per hike.
For the best chance of getting a permit, submit your group’s backcountry permit application during the Earliest Consideration period (before 5 p.m. MST on the 1st of the month that is four months prior to your proposed start date). Earliest Consideration permit applications can be submitted up to 10 days before the 1st of the month. If you miss this early time slot, your chances of getting a permit go down dramatically.
How Much Does It Cost to Camp at the Grand Canyon?
It’s not free to camp in Grand Canyon National Park, so make sure you budget for your nights spent in the park’s campgrounds. While it’s a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel, it’s still money you’re spending during your vacation.
In 2022, Mather Campground cost anywhere from $18-$50/night, depending on what site you stay in. At Desert View, a tent or RV site in 2022 cost $18/night. At North Rim Campground, fees range from $6 to $50. At Trailer Village RV Campground, one-night stays can range from $64-$74 a night in 2022, depending on the site and its amenities. Reserve and pay for your site online in advance to guarantee you have a place to set up your tent or park your RV at the end of the day. All these campgrounds fill up, and hoping that you’ll get a site by driving up is not a strong plan.
South Rim Campgrounds Inside Grand Canyon National Park
Mather Campground in Grand Canyon National Park
Nestled in a pinon-juniper and ponderosa pine forest with ample shade and beautiful elk that stroll the grounds eating grass, Mather Campground is a great place to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Despite the fact that it’s home to more than 300 campsites, there is a decent amount of space between sites, so you don’t feel like your neighbors are encroaching on your space. Pets are allowed on leash in the campground but cannot be left unattended outside your car and if temperatures will get warm during the day, do not leave them in your car as it can get fatally hot for your dog inside the car.
Each campsite has a picnic table and fire rings, so be sure to buy your firewood at the Canyon Village Market before you settle in for the night. Transporting firewood across state lines is strongly discouraged by state, park and federal land managers because of the invasive microscopic critters that can live inside the wood and wreak havoc on ecosystems. Bathrooms with running water and electrical outlets for hair dryers and phone charging are relatively close to each campsite.
In addition to water pumps, green garbage and recycling dumpsters strategically located on each of the six loops, the campground entrance is home to a dump station for RVs (but no RV hook-ups) and a building with pay showers and laundry machines. There’s also a horse camp for those who arrive with their hoofed friends. Check in is at noon and checkout is 11 a.m. Maximum stays are 7 consecutive days and 30 days per calendar year, so don’t get too comfortable.
To make reservations, call 1-877-444-6777 or go online at Recreation.gov. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance. This popular campground is open year-round and fills up fast, often by noon the day of, so make reservations as early as possible. Reservations aren’t available in the winter.
Desert View Campground in Grand Canyon
Twenty-six miles east of Grand Canyon Village, the smaller, more secluded Desert View Campground has only 50 campsites. Campers must make advance reservations online at Recreation.gov. It’s open April through October. Most sites serve tents or small RVs and travel trailers. It cannot accommodate large RVs or travel trailers over 30 feet.
Nestled among pinon and juniper trees, each site has a picnic table and a campfire ring for fires and cooking. There are no showers here and only two water faucets. It is home, however, to flushing toilets and sinks. Pets are allowed but must be leashed at all times.
Closed for winter, this small campground usually opens mid-April through mid-October. Those who have the Interagency Senior Pass, Interagency Access Pass, Golden Age Passport and Golden Access Passport will get a 50% discount on camping fees. Like Mather Campground, there is a 7-day camping limit. Check out is at 11 a.m. Check in is anytime after 11 a.m., bringing patience with you if the campers in your spot are delayed in checking out.
Trailer Village RV Campground in Grand Canyon National Park
This may as well be RVers version of heaven in the desert. A concessionaire-operated RV park, this spot is the only place in Grand Canyon National Park with full RV hook-ups. Close to the South Rim village and all of its activity, the Trailer Village accommodates RVs up to 50 feet long in its paved pull-through sites. Check in and check out are the same: noon. If you want to do laundry or take a shower, you’ll need to drive to the facility near the Mather Campground entrance.
No wood fires are allowed, but campers can have charcoal fires. Dispose of your trash in the dumpsters provided. Pets are allowed but must be leashed at all times. Open year-round, make your reservations by calling 877-404-4611 or book online at www.visitgrandcanyon.com.
Campgrounds Outside the South Rim of Grand Canyon
Just one mile from the South Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, you’ll find Grand Canyon Village RV Park & Campground (www.grandcanyoncampervillage.com). It’s super conveniently located near the park entrance, making for a short drive to the park. This privately owned campground offers tent sites, plus RV sites. There are 30 amp and 50 amp full hook-up sites, but vehicles over 33 feet will not fit in the 30 amp full hook-up sites. For vehicles over 33 feet, you’ll have to choose from the 50 amp full hook ups or the 30 amp water and electric sites. You’ll also coin-operated laundry and showers.
Between Tusayan and the South Entrance, Long Jim Loop is a road on forest service land, and it’s free dispersed camping off a gravel fire road. Turn left on Long Jim Loop off of Hwy. 64. It’s RV-friendly, but there are no hook-ups or services here. Be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.
Located two miles south of Tusayan, the town that sits near the South Entrance to the Grand Canyon, Ten-X Campground is set in a ponderosa pine and Gambel oak forest. It’s 10 miles to the South Entrance station. There’s a nice half-mile nature trail by the entrance to the campground where you can walk under towering trees. A Kaibab National Forest Service campground, there are 70 non-electric sites, and you can reserve them online at Recreation.gov. Sites 5-13 are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each site can fit a max of eight people and one car with additional vehicles being an additional fee of $5. Arrive early in summer to claim a good site, if you are getting a first-come, first-served site. Each site has grills and picnic tables. There is water available for drinking but not for RVs to fill up. Ten-X is closed in winter.
If you drive toward Flagstaff, 18 miles northeast of Flagstaff, you’ll find Bonito Campground (fs.usda.gov), a National Forest Service-run campground that borders Sunset Crater National Monument. The entire campground is first-come, first-served. There are 44 sites here with tables, grills and fire rings. You’ll find sites amid ponderosa pine trees. There’s also a campfire program auditorium for programs. There are no hook-ups, but there is drinking water and flush toilets. Pets must be on leash and no horses allowed. It’s open spring through mid-October.
North Rim Campgrounds Inside Grand Canyon National Park
There are two campgrounds within the park’s North Rim boundaries: the North Rim Campground and Tuweep Campground. While the 90-site developed North Rim Campground is within a mile of the visitor center and Grand Canyon Lodge, Tuweep Campground is about as remote and hard-to-get as you can imagine.
North Rim Campground
North Rim Campground offers 90 sites with picnic tables and campfire rings with cooking grills. There are standard non-electric sites and tent-only. There is a dump station on site. Water spigots are located throughout for drinking and cooking, and there are flush toilets. There’s also a gas station and a general store located at the campground. The pandemic forced the closure of showers and laundry. Check with the campground host to find out if they have reopened. Reserve your spot up to 6 months in advance on Recreation.gov.
The very remote Tuweep Campground is on the northwest rim of the Grand Canyon, and you need to secure a permit in advance to stay here. In addition to securing a permit, a visit to this area can be challenging via three possible routes. You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to drive over large boulders and navigate rough dirt road conditions and possibly muddy impassable stretches. Since the National Park Service manages the area for its primitive values, improvements and services are minimal. There are nine small campsites with picnic tables for one to six people with a maximum of two vehicles, including motorcycles, and one large group campsite for seven to 11 people with a maximum of four vehicles, including motorcycles. Campers must arrive by sunset. Fires and charcoal grills prohibited. Fossil fuel stoves allowed. While there are composting toilets, there is no water at this site. You will need to bring your own. Vehicles and vehicle combinations longer than 22 feet (6.7 m, end to end ) are prohibited.
Campgrounds Outside the North Rim
If the North Rim Campground at Grand Canyon National Park is full, there are places you can camp near the park. To access the North Rim easily, you can camp at DeMotte, Jacob Lake and Tuweep campgrounds, at Kaibab Camper Village or at dispersed camping in the national forest.
Just 7 miles north of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, DeMotte Campground (fs.usda.gov) is operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Half of the sites can be reserved in advance on Recreation.gov and half are first-come, first served. The DeMotte Campground offers 38 single family campsites with tables and cooking grills. These 38 sites can accommodate tents, trailers and small motorhomes. There are no utility hookups in this campground. It’s open mid-May through mid-October. You can bring your pet here, but it must be on leash at all times.
Located on the main route to Grand Canyon’s North Rim 45 miles from the entrance, Jacob Lake Campground is open May through September. It’s operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Reservations can be made through Recreation.gov and can be reserved on a 6-months in advance rolling basis. It offers 51 campsites that can accommodate tents, trailers and small motorhomes. While there is water available for drinking, there are no utility hookups. Dogs are welcome but have to be on leash.
In Jacob Lake, there’s also a commercial campground called Kaibab Camper Village (www.kaibabcampervillage.com), which is the place to go if you have a large RV and want full hookups. It’s 45 miles from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The property also offers tent sites, tent group sites, pull-through and back-in sites and can accommodate RVs over 40 feet. It’s off of Hwy. 67 just south of Jacob Lake and is open mid-May through mid-October. You’ll take a right on Forest Road 461 a quarter of a mile past the junction of Hwy. 89A and Hwy. 67. It’s pet friendly, but no pets are allowed in the cabin room it rents and the economy cabin that can also be rented.
Dispersed Camping near the North Rim of Grand Canyon
There are also areas that are part of the Kaibab National Forest skirting the national park boundaries of the North Rim where you can camp. These places have no infrastructure but can be camped on.
Fence Point is one of a handful of North Rim overlooks that offer primitive camping with rim-side views. A 4WD, high-clearance vehicle is necessary to get there. Consult the Kaibab Visitor Center in Jacob Lake for information and directions. It’s open mid-May through mid-October. Know the specific restrictions and guidelines in place by visiting the Kaibab National Forest site (fs.usda.gov). You can also get specific, up-to-date information at the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center at Jacob Lake. The phone number there is (928) 643-7298.
Backcountry Campgrounds Down in the Grand Canyon
Indian Garden Backcountry Campground
Indian Garden via Bright Angel Trail is a stunning place to camp for backpackers. Get inspired by this beautiful riparian area surrounded by cottonwood trees half way between the top of the South Rim and the Colorado River. It’s a 4.5-mile steep hike down via the Bright Angel trail to get here, which makes it all the more special. There’s water and shade here, which make it an oasis.
With just 15 sites, camping in Indian Garden makes you feel worlds away from, well, the rest of the world. Each site has a picnic table, pack pole to hang your pack to keep critters from getting into your packs and metal food storage can, in which you must store all toiletries, food and other items that are scented. The 14 small group sites accommodate 1-6 people while the one large group site accommodates 7-11 people.
Conveniences include a ranger station, potable water year-round, an emergency phone and two sets of composting toilets in the campground, as well as a full row of toilets in the day use area on the trails north of the campground.
Camp at Bright Angel Campground
One of the most beautiful backcountry sites in the Southwest, the Bright Angel Campground is a destination that you must work very hard to reach.
There are two ways to reach the campground: The Bright Angel Trail or the South Kaibab Trail. The striking Bright Angel Trail is an epic hike, especially with backcountry gear in your pack, clocking in at 9.9 miles, so be sure you have packed all the essentials, including water, food and your backcountry permit (which can be requested four months prior to the proposed month) from the Backcountry Information Center at the Grand Canyon, before you start down Bright Angel trail at the top of the rim. The Bright Angel Trail is easily accessible from the South Rim across from the mule barn and near the Bright Angel Lodge. We recommend spending the night half way down at Indian Garden Campground to break up the 9.9-mile hike, which is deceptively harder than the mileage indicates because you are going downhill for so long (your thighs will be burning like never before).
The South Kaibab trail is known for its incredible panoramic views, which make getting to the Bright Angel campground all the more rewarding.To get to the South Kaibab trailhead, you have to take a free park shuttle as there is no parking allowed at the trailhead. Be sure to pack your backcountry permit with you. The hiker express buses leave from Bright Angel Lodge and Backcountry Information Center. Check either for shuttle departure times, as they change depending on the month. Otherwise, take the Blue Line village bus to Canyon View Information Plaza and transfer to the Green Line. The South Kaibab stop is the first on the Green Line.
While this is a shorter route to Bright Angel Campground than the Bright Angel Trail, it has little shade and no water, so many headed to the campground will take this trail down and return via Bright Angel Trail, which offers water and shade. It can take 4-6 hours to get down to Bright Angel Campground, so be sure you have packed a ton of water in addition to all the essentials
When you arrive at the campground, check out all the available sites because there are varying degrees of shade, privacy, access to year-round water and proximity to the flush-toilet restrooms.
If it’s really hot, spend time in Bright Angel Creek, which flows through the campground. You also can walk a half-mile to the Canteen at Phantom Ranch. Part of the Phantom Ranch lodge, the only accommodations below the rim, the Canteen has limited hours open to the public. It serves what may be the best lemonade you’ll ever have, as well as tea, beer, wine and some snacks. Relish the air conditioning in this oasis.
If you want to make a reservation to eat breakfast or dinner at the Canteen, call the Phantom Ranch reservations office months in advance daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mountain Time (observing daylight savings time) at 888-29-PARKS (888-297-2757) within the U.S. and outside the U.S. 303-29-PARKS (303-297-2757). NOTE: In 2023, the park will be making significant park upgrades that will impact the level of services available at Phantom Ranch. Check the park’s website for up-to-date details.
A small campground 6.8 miles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail, Cottonwood Campground sits near Bright Angel Creek which offers a refreshing place to cool off. From mid-May to mid-October, potable drinking water is available but off season, you will need to filter/treat water from the creek. Cottonwood Campground has an emergency phone and toilets. Hiking to Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls and Manzanita Canyon are popular day trips from the campground.