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The Complete Guide To Grand Canyon National Park Camping

The Grand Canyon is a rigid rock formation, 277 miles long, that was cut by the Colorado River. It’s known today as one of the world’s seven natural wonders, and rightfully so! This glorious canyon is a must-see item on many bucket lists, and I’m here today to help you check it off of yours with as little hassle as possible.

I’ve put together a complete guide to make sure you don’t miss anything during your Grand Canyon National Park camping trip. Keep this guide on hand as you explore the 1.2 million acres of land, air, and water this park has to offer!

What You Can Expect While Camping at Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park camping
Grand Canyon National Park

As one of the aforementioned seven wonders of the world, the awe-inspiring experiences offered by Grand Canyon National Park camping are on a whole other level. Let’s dive into all the things you can expect to see and experience during your trip to this stunning national park.

Exploring While Camping at Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona and rests along the Colorado River. Come and view the famous landmarks of Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio along with her Desert View Watch Tower, enjoy the view from Mather Point, or take in the sights from the Observation Station.

Grand Canyon National Park Camping

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

Mather Campground

A top choice of mine for this list of Grand Canyon National Park camping options is reserving a site at Mather Campground. Mather Campground is located on the South Rim and accommodates both RV and tent campers. You can choose to make reservations to camp here between the months of April through November for the best experiences; however, this campground is open all year. 

Desert View Campground

Another great choice for some Grand Canyon National Park camping is visiting the Desert View Campground. This campground is also located on the South Rim and is 25 miles away from the Grand Canyon Village. You can choose to camp here between the months of May through October, and it runs on a first-come, first-served basis, so keep that in mind.

South Rim Campground

South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

There are plenty of campgrounds to consider when camping outside the National Park, but if you want to experience Grand Canyon National Park camping within the park, South Rim Campground is a great but expensive choice. They will hit you with camping fees on top of entrance fees. Still, this campground is still incredibly popular and fills up quickly, so plan accordingly.

North Rim Campground

Lastly, the North Rim Campground is another way to camp within the Grand Canyon National Park, but it also requires entrance fees and camping fees. If you know you want to visit the North Rim or South Rim campgrounds, then make reservations far in advance to ensure you don’t lose out on a spot! North Rim is a great campground to camp at during the months of May to October, but there’s a limit on how many times you can stay per season.

Booking a Grand Canyon National Park Camping Trip

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

As I mentioned, South Rim and North Rim fill up quickly, so you’ll have to be patient when booking time at these campgrounds. The traditional time to book due to season, weather, and overall experience is between mid-May to mid-October.

Mather Campground is the easiest to reserve a campsite at due to being open all year round. The best months to camp here, however, are mid-April through November.

Desert View Campground is first-come, first-served, so it’s a gamble to come and find out if there are available campgrounds, but it’s worth the hassle to enjoy all the stunning park views. Plan your visit between mid-May and mid-October to get the best experience during your stay.

Rates and Fees Tied To Grand Canyon National Park Camping

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

No matter what campground you decide to go with, you’ll need to purchase an entrance pass. These passes are crucial in regards to visiting and camping at the park. You can buy a digital pass online here ahead of time to save you the time and trouble! 

North Rim Campground has a daily rate of fifteen dollars a night to come and enjoy the grounds. There will be fees attached to both park entrance and daily rate. There aren’t hookups available at this park, but they do offer a dump station.

South Rim Campground operates in the same way in that there’s a daily rate and an entrance rate, depending on if you want to camp inside or outside of the park on the South Rim.

I personally recommend visiting Mather Campground from April through November, and the nightly fee to visit per night is fifteen dollars.

You can come to enjoy a stay at this campground all year, and it offers sites for tent campers as well as RV camping. It’s important to take note that hookups are unavailable at this campground. 

Regarding the Desert View Campground, they charge a daily rate of only ten dollars a night, but the first-come, first-served sites could present a challenge that won’t be worth saving that money. This campground is free of hookups as well, so plan accordingly.

Grand Canyon National Park Camping Activities

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

Most come to the Grand Canyon with two main goals in mind: experiencing Grand Canyon National Park camping and viewing the miles of awe-inspiring red rocks that make up this canyon. In regards to additional recreational and park-sponsored activities, here are a few to consider. 

Dark Star Preservation

Milky Way, Grand Canyon National Park
Milky Way, Grand Canyon National Park

There’s a project set in place to preserve the starry skies, and it’s said that the Grand Canyon is one of the final places to experience a fully star-filled night sky.

Thanks to artificial light pollution, a third of America’s population can’t experience a full sky of stars and view the Milky Way. Dark Star Preservation has a lifelong goal of maintaining these skies and even uses special methods of placing lighting just to preserve these areas.

Back Country Hiking Trails

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

If you enjoy hiking, you’re in for a huge treat. The Back Country Hiking Trails are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and any hiking enthusiast should make sure to allow time to travel on a few while you’re here. The sights are out of this world, and you’re sure to remember them forever.

Cultural Demonstration Series

The Cultural Demonstration Series gives its visitors the chance to get to know tribal workers associated with past tribes. Come share their history and learn how to recreate historical crafts. The wish of the Grand Canyon Conservancy is to educate and preserve the Grand Canyon heritage.

The national park where you’ll be staying is closely tied to this cultural series and was developed so that tourists could take in the history and rich cultures in direct contact with the tribes that still live there. It’s promised that all of the arts and crafts are to remain authentic.

Park-Sponsored Activities

The Colorado River

Grand Canyon National Park, Colorado River
The Grand Canyon, Colorado River

This is a large river that stretches across 1,450 miles of space and has been listed as the fifth-largest U.S. river. Come and experience the beauty and enjoy water activities such as swimming, waterskiing, tubing, boating, or even fishing. These waters are a turquoise color and completely gorgeous. I love to kayak, so when I visit, that’s my traditional activity.

 Wildlife

California Condors

California Condor, Grand Canyon National Park
California Condor, Grand Canyon National Park

If you enjoy watching the wildlife, be on the lookout for California condors that populate the areas of the Grand Canyon. The condor is the largest bird to date in America; these birds are black in coloring, have red bald heads, and exhibit white patches beneath their wings.

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep, Grand Canyon National Park
Desert Bighorn Sheep, Grand Canyon National Park

These are important creatures that have made Arizona’s Grand Canyon their hometown. You can see them grazing and climbing all over the red rocks. They hold themselves similar to the mule deer, but their additional oversized horns really stand out in comparison. They have a sharpness about them and are very alert; their speed along the mountain terrain is really a sight to see. 

A few other popular species of wildlife reside here, including Rocky Mountain elk, ringtails, Abert’s Squirrels, brown bats, mule deer, reptiles, bears, mountain lions, birds, coyotes, and the gray fox. 

History Of The Grand Canyon National Park

Camping at Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

From what scientists have gathered, the Grand Canyon was created five to six million years ago as the Colorado River cut channels throughout the rocky layers. The Grand Canyon also runs a mile deep. It became protected as a national park in 1919, making this national park over 100 years old! That’s 100 years of people coming to walk the cliffs, camp, and explore all that this natural wonder has to offer.

Wrapping Up Grand Canyon National Park Camping 

Stunning pieces of history always need to be explored, and the Grand Canyon that lives within the Grand Canyon National Park is one for the books. The beauty of this erosion-carved natural wonder is indescribable.

You’ll receive definite bragging rights when your buddies see you post photos from your trip to Grand Canyon National Park camping. Keep this guide close as you do your research and find the best parks and campgrounds to explore.

Looking for more Arizona camping adventures? Take a look at our list of 40 of the Best Places for Camping in Arizona!

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