Camping in Grand Canyon
How does camping at Grand Canyon sound, tucking in for the night under fragrant ponderosa pines at the edge of America’s greatest wonder? Pretty fantastic, right? That’s why reservations six months in advance are required for the National Park Service campgrounds at the South Rim and the North Rim. Some are booked solid one year ahead of time.
Reservations, in the form of backcountry permits, are also required to camp beneath the rim of Grand Canyon. In 2017, some 13,000 permits for 40,000 hikers were issued with many, many more stranded on a waiting list. It is not unusual for the park service to receive upwards of 50,000 permit requests in a year. These permits become available only 4 months in advance of your intended visit, via a highly competitive lottery system.
One of the best ways to avoid the bureaucratic hassle of pitching a tent in the Grand Canyon is with a commercial guide. Whether you are signing up for a backpacking trip or a trip with pack animal support to camp below the rim or a basecamp trip along the rims, you will be guaranteed a spot in nature’s grandest bedroom.
There are three established campgrounds below the rim. The Bright Angel Campground, with drinking water and flush toilets, is the only site on the canyon floor. The Indian Garden Campground welcomes campers coming down from the South Rim and the Cottonwood Campground is a happy sight for hikers coming down the North Kaibab Trail from the North Rim. Beyond that, guides know the best backcountry spots to bed down for the night in the expansive Grand Canyon backcountry.
Many hikers and campers like to enhance the discovery of adventure travel with a minimum of planning. Camping in the Grand Canyon is not one of those trips to go light on organization. A guided trip will not only remove all the logistics of camping but details like optimum departure times and pace of travel – factors that can ruin a Grand Canyon odyssey due to extreme conditions – are accounted for.
Of course, a guided backpacking trip will take care of establishing the ideal campsite for the conditions… no worrying about equipment, meal preparation, and route-finding. Guides will also ensure that your trip minimizes the impact on the fragile canyon environment. All that’s left is to relax and experience the wonder of the sun rising from the floor of the Grand Canyon