With six hotel options at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and one at the bottom of the canyon, it can be difficult to figure out where you should stay. Do you stay in the historic Grand Canyon hotels or modern motels, with or without air conditioning? We’ve created this Grand Canyon hotel guide to help you find the lodging that best suits your needs and price range.
Is It Better to Stay in the Grand Canyon?
Staying inside Grand Canyon National Park may not save you money, but it definitely saves you time. The closest town to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is Tusayan. It sits right at the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, but you still have to drive at least 15 minutes, with light traffic, to get to the South Rim’s village area and trails. Plus, there’s a strong possibility you may get stuck in traffic at the entrance station, which can add a lot of time to your drive into the park.
The majority of the hotels and cabins at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are near the edge of the Grand Canyon and the paved path that you can stroll to get to restaurants, gift shops and museums. You can also take its shuttle system everywhere, so once you park your car at your hotel, you don’t have to worry about using your car until you’re ready to leave the park. This is a huge convenience, considering parking at the South Rim is really limited and it can take quite some time to find a parking spot, if you don’t arrive in the park before 8 a.m.
Yavapai Lodge is the only hotel not right on the rim. The advantage to it is it is pet-friendly and just far enough from the rim that you can get away from the crowds when you return to the lodge in the evening. There is a regular shuttle from the hotel that brings you to the South Rim’s attractions.
If you need a park map to get a sense for where everything is, you can download a general PDF map.
Where Should I Stay in Grand Canyon if I Want a Luxury Hotel?
If El Tovar Hotel’s walls could speak, they would tell stories of presidential visits from President Teddy Roosevelt to President Clinton and some of the greatest thinkers in history like Albert Einstein. Settle into one of the 78 rooms in this elegant hotel right on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Its rooms are the priciest (in the $300s, depending on day and time of year) and you are paying for ambiance, location and proximity to the best restaurant on the rim, which is housed in El Tovar.
Designed by Charles Whittlesey in 1905, El Tovar is the most upscale hotel along Grand Canyon’s South Rim. You can sit on its covered porch to watch the world walk by, catch up on reading in El Tovar’s classic lobby or dine at its restaurant that has the reputation of being the South Rim’s finest dining. You’ll need reservations for both lunch and dinner at the El Tovar Dining Room for 2022. You can make reservations here.
Of the 78 rooms in El Tovar, 12 of them are suites. What’s really interesting is no two rooms are alike, which is unique to hotels this size. El Tovar is registered as a National Historic Landmark. There is no elevator to access rooms on the upper floors at El Tovar. Read more about El Tovar Hotel.
Where Should I Stay in Grand Canyon if I Want a Cheap Hotel?
Located just feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon and the South Rim’s famed Bright Angel trailhead, the Bright Angel Lodge is full of character and is the most affordable lodge in the park. Architect Mary Jane Colter was hired to refresh the structure in 1935 to provide travelers with a more affordable alternative to El Tovar Hotel down the path.
At the Bright Angel Lodge, you can choose from 90 lodging choices that range from standard lodge rooms to historic cabins to historic rooms with a shared bath. There are no TVs in the rooms. Inside the lodge, you’ll find two restaurants, plus an ice cream shop that’s open seasonally, a gift shop, an old-style saloon and a coffee house. At Fred Harvey Burger, you can order diner classics like huevos rancheros or gourmet burgers. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. At Arizona Steakhouse, you’ll find ribs, chicken and steak on the menu. You can also learn more about the Fred Harvey Co. and its female employees who worked at the many restaurants along the train route through New Mexico and Arizona at the Bright Angel History Room.
There are not many rooms with canyon views at Bright Angel Lodge, which may be architect Mary Jane Colter’s subtle reminder to guests to spend as much time outside as possible to experience the Grand Canyon. Bright Angel Lodge is a registered National Historic Landmark. Read more about Bright Angel Lodge.
Yavapai Lodge comes in second place for the most affordable lodging in the South Rim area of the park. It also has air conditioning and has rooms that are pet-friendly. If you are looking for convenience and a reasonably priced room, consider Yavapai Lodge located about a mile from the South Rim. It’s tucked in a ponderosa pine forest, which is somewhat unexpected for lodging at the Grand Canyon. The lodge has several buildings. You can choose between a motel-style room where you can pull up and park right at your door. Or stay in a lodge for hotel-style set up.
At Yavapai Lodge West, you’ll find motel-style set up where you can pull right up to your room. The style is reminiscent of old Route 66 motels. The rooms are nice but basic and do have air-conditioning. Pet-friendly rooms are available. At Yavapai Lodge East, you can stay in a room that’s in one of six two-story buildings where you can cool off in air conditioning. These rooms are not pet-friendly. Learn more about Yavapai Lodge.
Where Should I Stay for Moderately Priced Rooms in Grand Canyon?
Thunderbird Lodge, Maswik North and South and Kachina Lodge all come in at the middle of the price range out of the seven hotels in Grand Canyon National Park.
Conveniently located between El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge was built in 1968 and its facade reflects the era. Its location is fantastic as it sits on the canyon rim in the heart of the South Rim’s historic district.
It offers rooms with street views or canyon views, so if a view of the Grand Canyon is important to you, ask for a “canyon-side room” when you book at Thunderbird Lodge. Each room has either a king bed or two queen-sized beds, plus satellite TV. There are also ADA-compliant rooms, so ask about availability when you make your reservation at Thunderbird Lodge. Read more about Thunderbird Lodge.
Conveniently located between the historic El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge does not have deep-rooted histories like its neighbors down the path. But what it lacks in historic depth and charm, it makes up for in location.
Built in the late 1960s, Kachina Lodge sits right on the canyon rim, making it easy to explore some of the South Rim’s best attractions by foot. Many rooms have partial canyon views, so if you want to be looking at the Grand Canyon instead of the parking lot when you stay at Kachina Lodge, ask for “canyon-side” room. Every room has one king bed or two queen beds and a TV. There are also ADA-compliant rooms, so ask about availability when you make your reservation at Kachina Lodge. Read more about Kachina Lodge.
Located a quarter of a mile from the edge of the Grand Canyon, Maswik Lodge consists of a north and south lodge. It is nestled in a ponderosa pine forest. In 2019-20, Maswik South began undergoing a $30 million renovation project to modernize, and you can start staying in the new rooms June 1, 2022. It is the first major lodging improvement to take place in decades at the South Rim.
Maswik South’s new rooms are in four two-story buildings that feature elevators and stairs to the second floor. All standard guest rooms have either two queen-sized beds or one king-sized bed, a mini-refrigerator, air conditioning, a coffee maker and satellite TV. Thirty of the new rooms feature kitchenettes for those guests who want to prepare food in their rooms. While there is no oven in the kitchenettes, there are two-burner stovetops, plus an apartment-sized refrigerator, which can accommodate more food than just the mini-refrigerators in the stand rooms. Read more about Maswik Lodge.
Can You Spend the Night at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
If you’re looking for a unique experience powered by your own feet (or of those of a mule that you’re riding) from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, look no further than Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch sits at the bottom of the Grand Canyon a short walk from the Colorado River and nestled in a tree-filled oasis.
At Phantom Ranch, 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 beautiful cabins you can stay in, as well. While the cabins are variable in size, they can fit between two to 10 people.
Phantom Ranch is truly a very special place. With no roads leading to it, there’s a feeling of solace and beauty that’s really different than staying on the rim of the Grand Canyon. You can spend the day doing day hikes from Phantom Ranch or simply rest under the shade of the many trees there. A highlight is the Phantom Ranch Canteen dinner, of which reservations are required. Make reservations really early because seats fill months in advance, and you don’t want to miss out on this fun, family-style dining experience. Read more about Phantom Ranch.