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Camping at the Grand Canyon: What You Need to Know

Camping at the Grand Canyon may be one of the most scenic camping experiences. With breathtaking views all around and miles to explore, finding the perfect Grand Canyon camping spot may seem overwhelming. 

Whether camping near the secluded North Rim or the easily accessible South Rim, there are several options for Grand Canyon camping. It all depends on the type of camper you are and what fits your needs. 

Grand Canyon campgrounds can fill up for several months, so consider this when booking your reservations. This post will cover some of the most beautiful camping spots in and around the Grand Canyon National Park.

South Rim of Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon’s South Rim is much more popular due to its close proximity to large cities like Phoenix and Flagstaff. It is much more accessible for visitors to reach and is open year-round. More amenities are available at the south rim, such as restaurants and stores.

Camping at the South Rim Grand Canyon

The south rim is desirable to families and those not as comfortable camping in more remote areas.

There are several options for camping at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You can camp within the Grand Canyon National Park or outside the park. Whether you are a tent camper or an RV camper needing full RV hookups, there is something for everyone at the South Rim.

There are also dispersed camping and backcountry camping areas for the more adventurous type. You will need a backcountry permit for some of these locations. 

Mather Campground

Mather Campground is located in the Grand Canyon National Park on the South Rim. It is open year-round and offers a variety of camping options, including tent camping and RV camping. It is the most popular campground on the South Rim and is very close to the visitor center.

The campground fills up quickly during the busy season, so reservations are highly recommended. Reservations should be made 6 months in advance during the spring, summer, and fall. Reservations are $18 per site per night. No reservations are needed during the winter months; it is first-come, first-served.

Mather Campground has 327 sites, 55 of them specifically just for tents. The other 272 sites are for both tent and RV campers. There are no hookups and no electrical, but it does have pay hot showers and laundry.

These services are located at the camper services building at the entrance to the campground. Ice can also be purchased at the camper services. Drinking water and flush toilets are available throughout the campground.

Each site can take up to 6 people, 3 tents, and 2 vehicles, making Mather Campground perfect for friends and family. Each site also has a campfire ring with a cooking grate and a picnic table. The sites are spacious and shaded by mature trees.

Pets are allowed at Mather Campground, but remember to keep them on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Remember to clean up after your pet too.

One convenient amenity at Mather Campground is the free shuttle that takes you right to the South Rim. The shuttle runs about 2-4 times an hour, depending on the time of day.

Desert View Campground

The Desert View Campground is also located within the Grand Canyon National Park on the South Rim. It is open year-round and offers tent camping and RV camping.

The campground is much more remote than Mather Campground and offers expansive views. The Desert View Campground is an excellent option for those who want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular campgrounds.

A unique landmark at the Desert View Campground is the famous Desert View Watchtower. It is a stone tower on the east side of the Grand Canyon. It was designed by Mary Colter and built between 1922 and 1932. The watchtower provides stunning canyon views and is a popular spot for photographers.

You will need reservations for the Desert View Campground and should make them at least 6 months in advance. Reservations are $18 per night. The campground has 49 sites and can accommodate tents and small RVs. Each site can take up to 6 people and 2 tents or 1 RV. Each site comes with a picnic table and a fire ring/cooking grill.

Desert View Campground does not have any electrical hookups, but flush toilets and drinking water are available. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash at all times. The campground does not have any group sites, so keep this in mind if traveling with a large group.

South Rim’s Trailer Village

The Trailer Village campground is located on the South Rim within the Grand Canyon National Park. It offers full hookups for RVs, including electrical, water, and sewer.

The campground is open year-round, and reservations are recommended, especially during the busy season. However, the campground fills up quickly, so make your reservations 1 year in advance.

Dog at the Grand Canyon

The Trailer Village campground has 123 sites. 80 of the sites have full electrical hookups. Each site comes with a picnic table, and paved sites have a charcoal grill. Gravel sites do not come with a grill. Propane camp stoves can be used on the provided picnic tables.

Paved sites are $71 per night, and gravel sites are $61 per night. The Trailer Village has flush toilets and drinking water. The campground also has pay showers, laundry facilities, and a dump station. Ice is even for sale year-round.

Pets are allowed at the Trailer Village campground but must be on a leash. The campground does not have any group sites, so keep this in mind if traveling with a large group.

If you’re looking for a more remote camping experience, the Trailer Village campground is not for you. However, it is an excellent option for those who want full hookups and easy access.

Trailer Village is unique because it is the perfect campground for families wanting the outdoor experience but not the challenges of tent camping. It’s a way to explore the Grand Canyon for several days without the comforts of home.

Ten-X Campground

Ten-X Campground is located just 4 miles south of the south entrance to the Grand Canyon. It can accommodate both tents and small RVs. It is open to overnight campers from mid-May through late September. The area can be explored for the day in the off-season and has beautiful nearby hikes.

Even though Ten-X Campground is close to the Grand Canyon, it is far enough to get you away from the droves of tourists. In addition, the forest provides much-needed shade and has several walking trails around the campground.

Ten-X Campground is in the Tusayan Ranger District, nestled in a beautiful ponderosa pine and oak forest. What it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in scenery. Ten-X Campground has 70 single sites and 2 large group sites.

There are not any electrical hookups, laundry, or shower services. However, each site does come with a picnic table and fire/cooking ring. Vault toilets and drinking water are available close to the camping sites.

Some of the camping sites at Ten-X Campground are first-come, first-serve, but several need reservations. Therefore, it would be a smart plan to make reservations about 6 months in advance.

The 2 group sites are large and can accommodate 50-75 campers per site. The group sites will run $125-$175 per night, and the regular sites are $20 per night. Ten-X Campground would be an excellent place for a scout group or a family reunion.

Ten-X Campground does allow dogs, but they must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Please remember to clean up after your pooch.

Indian Garden

If you’re looking for a more isolated camping experience, the Indian Garden campground is perfect. Located deep inside the Grand Canyon, Indian Garden is only accessible by foot or mule.

Indian Garden campground is a backcountry campground on the South Rim about two-thirds the way down into the Grand Canyon, less than 5 miles. It is along the Bright Angel Trail and has some of the most beautiful scenery.

It is worth the hike to view the changes in rock formation and flora along the way. Indian Garden campground is a perfect place to relax and regroup after a long day of backpacking.

A creek runs through the campground and has beautiful grasses and cottonwood trees for shade. Indian Garden is truly an oasis in the middle of the desert.

The campground has just 16 sites and can only accommodate small tents. There are no electrical hookups or running water at the campground. Indian Garden has a ranger station, emergency phone, year-round potable water, and toilets. 

Indian Garden campground has large metal food storage boxes at every campsite. Although it is critical and mandatory to use them, you don’t want to encourage bears to join you in your camping adventure.

Any camping done below the rim of the Grand Canyon requires a backcountry permit and can be obtained up to 4 months in advance. So prepare early for your trip. The Grand Canyon only issues about 13,000 permits but gets about 30,000 requests.

Backcountry permits are $10 and $8-$12 per person or pack animal per night. The prices also depend on the dates you are hiking and are non-refundable. No pets are ever allowed inside the Grand Canyon National Park.

North Rim of Grand Canyon

The North Rim is definitely the better option if you’re looking for a less-crowded and more rustic camping experience! Camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a one-of-a-kind experience. It is located within the Grand Canyon National Park.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed for the winter but is an excellent option for summer camping. The temperatures in the summer rarely reach 80 degrees.

It is quieter and more relaxing at the North Rim due to the lack of visitors. This is because of the location. The nearest city is the town of Jacob Lake, Arizona, which is about an hour north of the North Rim.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon appeals to adventurous hikers and backpackers and can also accommodate tent and RV campers. There are several options for anyone looking to explore the Kaibab Plateau at the North Rim.

North Rim Campground

The North Rim Campground is perfect for campers that want to get away from the busy, more touristy South Rim but still need some comforts of home. The higher elevation of the North Rim will provide you with cooler weather and stunning views of the Grand Canyon.

The forest around the North Rim is incredible and has a variety of pine, birch, maple, aspen, and oak trees. In addition, there is an abundance of wildlife and hiking trails to enjoy the area.

Even though the North Rim is less populated with tourists, the North Rim Campground has several amenities. There are 87 sites for tents and RVs and 3 sites for groups. Depending on the campsite, they allow 2 cars per regular site with 3 small tents. The group sites can have up to 3 cars and 25 people per site.

Each site at the North Rim Campground has a picnic table and a fire ring with a cooking grill. There are restrooms and drinking water spigots located throughout the campground. North Rim Campground does not have laundry or shower services.

There are no electrical hookups at the North Rim Campground, but there is a camp store at the entrance to the campground. The camp store provides basic grocery items, and ice can be purchased.

Reservations are required for North Rim Campground and should be made 6 months in advance. Reservations can run from $18 to $50 per night, depending on the site reserved. Pets are allowed at this campground but must be on a leash.

Demotte Campground

The DeMotte Campground is located within the North Kaibab Ranger District. It is about 7 miles north of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This location is not too far from the North Rim but gets you far enough away for quieter seclusion. 

Like most campgrounds near or at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Demotte Campground is closed in the winter. However, it is open from mid-May through mid-October. The Kaibab National Forest has beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife to view. If you are lucky, you may spot the tassel-eared Kaibab squirrel, found nowhere else in the world.

Demotte Campground has 38 single-family campsites and can accommodate tents and small RVs. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring/cooking grill. No electrical hookups are available at this campground, and there are no group sites. 

There are vault toilets and drinking water dispersed throughout the campground. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash at all times. Always clean up after your pooch.

Half of the sites are available by reservations only, and the other half are first-come, first served. Sites are $24 per night. I would reserve a site about 6 months in advance to be on the safe side. 

Jacob Lake Campground

Jacob Lake Campground is located about 45 miles north of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is nestled in the Kaibab National Forest, surrounded by Ponderosa Pines and abundant wildlife, including birds.

Though the lake is rarely full of water, there is marshland and grasses around the lake, making it a perfect habitat for birds. It is a beautiful area to go for a leisurely afternoon walk, but no fishing at Jacob Lake, it is not allowed.

The higher elevation at Jacob Lake Campground also makes it a great summer destination. The elevation is about 8,000 feet, and summer temperatures rarely reach 75 degrees.

Jacob Lake Campground offers 51 sites for tents, trailers, and small motorhomes. There are no hookups here, but the campground does have vault toilets, drinking water, and fire pits/cooking rings. Pets are allowed but must remain on a leash no longer than 6 feet.

Reservations are needed for this campground and should be made about 6 months in advance, as this is a popular spot in the summer. Jacob Lake Campground is generally open from May through September. Reservations are $24 per night.

An interesting tidbit about the area is the Jacob Lake Recreation area adjacent to the campground. It is for day use only, and reservations can be made a year in advance.

This beautiful location is a popular destination for weddings, family reunions, and large events. The facility has ramadas, grills, tables, toilets, and water. 

Kaibab Camper Village

Kaibab Camper Village is your campground for the campers looking for a less rustic adventure and comforts of home. Located 40 miles away from the North Rim Grand Canyon, this campground has something for everyone.

Kaibab Camper Village is the only campground on the North Rim with full hookups and can handle RVs over 40 feet long. The campground also has dry sites, tent sites, group sites, and small cabins. This campground truly has everything you could need for a family camping trip.

The campground sits in the Kaibab National Forest, and the higher elevation keeps the summer temperatures usually below 80 degrees. In addition, Kaibab Camper Village is adjacent to Jacob Lake, which is a great spot to observe wildlife.

The marsh around the usually empty lake is a perfect habitat for birds. You are not allowed to fish or swim in Jacob Lake, though.

Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 6 months in advance. About half of the sites at Kaibab Camper Village are on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have a specific need, such as hookups with your big trailer, I wouldn’t chance it. It is best to make reservations.

Depending on the site you reserve, rates can range anywhere from $20 a night to $105 a night. Keep in mind, that they have options for dry, tent sites to full hookups with a big RV and even small cabins.

Kaibab Camper Village has so many amenities that it is hard to list them. First of all, they have a camper store with snacks, groceries, and even RV parts. Coin-operated showers and laundry are available, as are flush toilets. The toilets even have a handwashing station just outside.

The campsites are shady and come with a picnic table and a fire pit/cooking grill. Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash, and they are not allowed inside the cabins.

Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Campground is a rustic backcountry campground located within the Grand Canyon National Park. It is a small campground located about 7 miles below the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail.

To camp here, you will need a backcountry permit for $10. There are 12 small sites, and 1 of them can accommodate a group of up to 11 people. Bright Angel Creek and a ranger station are located nearby.

Composting toilets are available, but it is wise to bring your own biodegradable toilet paper. Treated water for drinking is also available, but only during the non-freezing months. Keep this in mind; you may need a filtration system to get drinking water from Bright Angel Creek.

The campsites are shady and private and even come with a picnic table. There are no food storage bins here, so protect your food. The scenery is breathtaking, and there are deer, squirrels, and other wildlife.

North and South Rim Dispersed Camping

If you’re looking for a unique camping experience and want to get away from the crowds, dispersed camping is the way to go. There are thousands of acres of forest around the Grand Canyon, and you don’t even need reservations or a permit.

North Rim camping will be even more secluded than the South Rim but will be freezing during the winter months. The North Rim is an excellent summer destination with temperatures hardly reaching the low 80s. Remember that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed during the winter months.

South Rim camping is more accessible and is open year-round. Civilization and stores are also much closer to the South Rim. This is handy if you find yourself in a bind. Be prepared for warm days and cool nights, plus the random showers you may encounter.

The crowds at the Grand Canyon can be overwhelming, and a nice quiet campsite gives you the relaxation you may need after a busy day. Dispersed camping is unique, but you need to be prepared for anything out there all alone.

In addition to all the camping items, you will bring, take a map, GPS device, and first aid kit. Be sure to tell someone where you are going and for how long. And as always, leave no trace.

FAQ’S

What can I do with my pet while exploring the Grand Canyon?

There are options at the Grand Canyon for your pet. However, pets are not allowed below the rim of the Grand Canyon unless they are service dogs. Above the rim, pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet long.

The Grand Canyon Kennel at the South Rim is an excellent option for your pet if you plan on hiking below the rim. The kennel is open Friday through Monday. They even have overnight boarding.

Pets are allowed on the Bridle Trail at the North Rim, but no other areas below the rim. There is not a kennel at the North Rim.

Always follow the B.A.R.K. rules while visiting.

  • Bag your poop
  • Always wear a leash
  • Respect wildlife
  • Know where you can go

Can I camp anywhere in the Grand Canyon?

When camping in the Grand Canyon National Park, you can camp in one of the many developed campgrounds at the North and South Rim. Reservations about 6 months in advance are recommended for many of these.

South Rim Grand Canyon camping

You are permitted to camp anywhere else within the park as long as you have a backcountry permit. These cost about $10 per day.

How many days should I spend at the Grand Canyon?

One to three days is recommended for a relaxing visit to the Grand Canyon. This will allow you to visit a few different viewpoints. You would even have time to hike into the Canyon on the Rim Trail and watch the sunset.

If you have kids, you would have the time to break up the day by checking out the shopping at the Grand Canyon Village, sit down and enjoy some ice cream.

My kids always loved becoming a Junior Ranger at National Parks. They enjoyed learning the fun facts and the activities of being a Junior Ranger.

Final Thoughts

Camping in the Grand Canyon is an experience like no other. To make your trip even more enjoyable, remember to plan ahead, make reservations and get your permits early. Also, keep in mind the changing weather and bring plenty of layers. And as always, camp smore worry less.

Steve and Kris
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Steve and Kris are avid campers, outdoor lovers, and founders of Camp S'more Worry Less. When they are not camping, they enjoy other outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, and hiking with their family. Read more.

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