If you are looking for a unique experience powered by your own feet (or of those of a mule you are riding on top) in the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, look no further than Phantom Ranch.
Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it is tucked in beside Bright Angel Creek on the north side of the Colorado River and is the only lodging facility below the canyon rim. The ranch can only be reached by mule, by foot or by rafting the Colorado River and is a popular stop-over point for hikers and mule riders traveling to the bottom of the canyon via the famous Bright Angel or Kaibab trails.
Getting to Phantom Ranch
It’s not an easy hike. If you take the South Kaibab trail, it is a 7.5-mile hike, which takes 4-5 hours to get to the ranch, depending on your speed. If you hike on the Bright Angel trail, it’s 10 miles and 4-6 hours to get to the ranch. Getting back to the top of Grand Canyon’s rim takes even longer since the entire route is uphill. Heat can and has been a safety hazard hiking to and from Phantom Ranch because of the time you need to spend on the trail to get there and back. In addition, temperatures rise as you get closer to the Colorado River, so if your timing is off, you can end up hiking in life-threatening heat.
Phantom Ranch’s Accommodations
Designed by architect Mary Jane Colter in the 1920s, Colter used native stone and wood as part of her design. There are four dormitories: two for males and two for females. Each dorm has five bunk beds, a restroom and a shower. The ranch provides towels and bedding for each guest. There are cabins you can stay in, as well. While the cabins are variable in size, they can fit between two to 10 people, but the prices are based on double occupancy. There is a central location that houses showers, hot water sinks, bath towels and liquid soap.
To take a mule trip to and from Phantom Ranch, you can book these through the same central reservations offices you make your Phantom Ranch reservations. See details below.
The Phantom Ranch Cantina serves breakfast and dinner, but you must make reservations in advance if you would like meals at Phantom Ranch. The Canteen also sells snacks, beverages and sundries.
For more information:
Reservations (888) 297-2757 or (303) 297-2757
If you want to stay at Phantom Ranch, make your reservations early. Reservations open for dates 13 months prior and you have to call the central reservation office in Denver (which follows mountain standard time) to reserve your spot. The central reservations office is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.daily. It’s first-come, first-served, so be sure to time your call at 888-297-2757. It’s open year-round.
One last piece of advice. Don’t forget to reconfirm your reservation two days before your hike. This is required. To reconfirm, please call the Bright Angel Transportation Desk at 928-638-3283.
2023 Phantom Ranch Updates
While dates and specific changes will be clarified in fall 2022, Phantom Ranch services will be changing pretty drastically for 2023. Because the park service will be doing major infrastructure projects that will impact Phantom Ranch operations, the operators of Phantom Ranch are pausing lottery entries / bookings for Phantom Ranch overnight mule rides beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and cabins for stays arriving May 1, 2023 onward. During this period, travelers to Phantom Ranch will only be able to get to-go breakfasts, sack lunches, and to-go dinners. Beverages and snacks will be available from the canteen’s service window from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Check the Xanterra website for up-to-date details.