First hand experiences, tips and advice for where to stay inside and near Grand Canyon National Park South Rim in Arizona, including best hotels, lodges and nearby towns.
Grand Canyon National Park is home to one of the world’s most extraordinary and remarkable natural landscapes. Fortunately for visitors today, this has been a long known fact and a wide range of lodging options have been in place for decades.
Finding hotels or lodges can be a real problem when visiting certain US National Parks, due to lack of availability, options or even sheer size of a park. However, this is not the case at Grand Canyon’s magnificent South Rim. There are 6 on site accommodation options and dozens more in nearby towns.
We’re going to explain all of your best accommodation options when visiting Grand Canyon, including national park run lodges and the best nearby hotels within striking distance.
Hotels in nearby towns typically offer a wider range of price points, more amenities, better location for visiting other popular areas in Arizona and of course provide backup options if there is no availability inside the park.
Let’s get stuck into where to stay at Grand Canyon National Park!
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Tips For Booking Hotels at Grand Canyon National Park
- Book as early as you have concrete travel dates to stand a better chance of getting the best hotel or lodge available for your budget.
- Seriously consider whether you want the better South Rim location or the better amenities of a nearby town / city.
- Think about what you will do either side of your visit to Grand Canyon, does it make more sense to stay on the Rim or day trip into the park?
- Camping is a cheaper alternative if you can find availability and don’t mind sleeping in a tent.
- Top tip: Remember Grand Canyon is a four season National Park. You will find much cheaper lodging and more availability if you visit between November to March, both inside the park and in nearby towns.
Where To Stay Inside Grand Canyon National Park
You have 6 available lodging options inside Grand Canyon National Park:
- El Tovar
- Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins
- Kachina Lodge
- Thunderbird Lodge
- Maswik Lodge
- Phantom Ranch
The first 4 are all located next to one another in a crescent shape along the South Rim. Maswik Lodge is located around a 5 minute walk back from the Rim and Phantom Ranch is the only official accommodation on the Canyon Floor.
Staying inside the park means you have the better Canyon location, especially if you want to watch a sunrise or stargaze. However, you will find far fewer amenities.
Demand is high, therefore costs are high and finding availability for your preferred dates can be challenging.
Let’s take a look at each option:
1. El Tovar
El Tovar is the Grand Canyon’s premier and most celebrated historic hotel. There are 78 rooms but many are suites with eye watering costs associated.
Stay here for location, history and if you have no travel budget.
Room Cost: Varies depending on season – typically US$ 278 / US$ 363 + tax per night for double room. Suites upwards of US$ 400-600.
Read more: El Tovar Hotel
2. Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins
Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins is the polar opposite to El Tovar. There are 90 lodging units, some with shared bathrooms offered at a more reasonable nightly rate.
Stay here for location and if you’re traveling on a tight budget. Bright Angel is the only lodging you will find along the rim in which a night can cost under US$ 150 per night.
You will need to be flexible and be able to travel midweek to get a cheaper rate. Due to the lower price point and location, this accommodation fills very early.
Room Cost: Varies depending on season – typically US$ 128 / US$ 214 + tax per night for room with or without shared bathrooms.
Read more: Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins
3. Kachina Lodge
Kachina Lodge sits in the middle ground between cost and comfort when compared to the two above.
Some of the rooms at Kachina Lodge have ‘partial’ canyon views, but they will of course be snapped up instantly so getting booked early is key.
Stay here for location and mid-range budget.
Room Cost: Varies depending on season – typically US$ 266 + tax per night with prices dropping slightly into the Winter season.
Read more: Kachina Lodge
4. Thunderbird Lodge
Aside from having a catchier name, Thunderbird Lodge is a carbon copy of Kachina Lodge.
The building looks similar and prices are similar overall, although Thunderbird tends to have more rooms at the higher price points.
Stay here for location and mid range budget. Thunderbird Lodge also has a ‘family focus’.
Room Cost: Varies depending on season – typically US$ 335 + tax per night with a few at the US$ 266 price point if flexible.
Read more: Thunderbird Lodge
5. Maswik Lodge
Maswik Lodge is a little further back from South Rim but still only a 5 minute walk. This is a huge complex featuring 12 buildings, each two-story for a total of 280 rooms.
Note: At time of writing (June 2021) significant construction work is due to begin.
Stay here for location and mid range budget.
Room Cost: Varies depending on season – typically US$ 262 + tax per night with occasional lower rate after Summer.
Read more: Maswik Lodge
6. Phantom Ranch (Canyon Floor)
Phantom Ranch is the only accommodation option below the Canyon Rim.
It can only be reached by foot, mule or rafting along the Colorado River – which makes it a pretty awesome place to spend a night!
The problem is very limited space and enormous demand. The result is you can only stay here by ‘winning’ the Phantom Ranch lottery.
Stay here for the ultimate location and adventure.
Cost and info: You can eat meals, have duffel service, sleep in dorms or cabins and there are a wide range of prices. Instead of listing every cost, you can read more about Phantom Ranch here.
Where To Stay Near Grand Canyon National Park
Accommodation on the South Rim is perfect for easy access to the canyon, but rooms fill very quickly, you will have limited amenities and they aren’t cheap.
So what are your alternatives?
Well, we will take a look at the best hotels by top guest rating (as per Booking.com) in each of the smaller towns near Grand Canyon national park, plus the two larger urban areas within day trip distance.
If you are on a wider Utah / Arizona road trip, spending a night in a larger town either the night before or the night after visiting Grand Canyon National Park can offer better value and amenities.
Note: The beauty of choosing between hotels near Grand Canyon National Park is that you will always enter via the same road and same entrance. You don’t have to worry about different park entrances or compromising on specific hikes, attractions and hotel options.
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in order of distance from South Rim entrance:
Tusayan is the closest town to Grand Canyon National Park. It hosts a handful of decent hotels and is just 6.5 miles (10 minute drive) to the South Rim visitor center parking lot.
If you are interested in sunrises and stargazing, we suggest trying to book a room here to limit drive time in the dark.
You will find a handful of restaurants, plus fast food such as McDonalds and Wendy’s in Tusayan. There are also grocery stores, gas stations, tour companies and the Grand Canyon IMAX theater.
Hotels in Tusayan are in the higher price bracket due to its superior location. You will need to weigh up the perfect cost vs convenience balance for your travel budget.
Let’s take a look at the 4 best hotels in town in order of highest to lowest guest rating:
2. Valle /Grand Canyon Junction
Valle (also known as Grand Canyon Junction) is the second closest place along AZ-64 after Tusayan but it is very small.
The junction is 28.7 miles from South Rim visitor center parking lot, which will take around 35-40 minutes to drive.
You will find just one hotel with the only restaurant in town attached, plus a luxury glamping option in Valle. There are also 2 gas stations but very little else.
The glamping option looks amazing but it is expensive, whereas the only hotel in Valle – Grand Canyon Inn – has good rooms going at a very reasonable rate.
We personally stayed at Grand Canyon Inn in October when lodging inside the park and in Tusayan were far more expensive. Our stay was great and we ate dinner in the on site restaurant.
Here are the Valle options for you to consider:
Heading further South to the very end of AZ-64 you will find the much larger town of Williams, which sits just off I-40. This section of I-40 is also part of famous and historic Route 66.
Williams to South Rim visitor center parking lot is 59 miles or 1 hour drive time. So it’s certainly further out, but it also has far more hotel options at a much greater price range.
You will also find a handful of highly rated local restaurants and cafes (which are seldom seen closer to the park), plus groceries, gas and fast food.
Williams is the best place to stay if you’re looking for a traditional small town with better amenities and good (but not the best) access to Grand Canyon. It suits those who like comfort and don’t need to be inside the park for sunrise or stargazing.
With more to choose between in Williams, let’s take a look at the hotels with top guest ratings for each price bracket:
- Comfort Inn: Guest rating 8.5 / 10 – check availability.
- Quality Inn: Guest rating 7.4 / 10 – check availability.
Mid Range Budget:
- Best Western Plus: Guest rating 8.9 / 10 – check availability.
- Lodge Route 66: Guest rating 8.6 / 10 – check availability.
Flagstaff, AZ rounds up this list of where to stay at Grand Canyon National Park.
By far the largest nearby city and a hub for tourism, Flagstaff is 79 miles from South Rim visitor center parking lot and will take around 1h 30m to drive.
Flagstaff also has an airport, which is served by Denver, Phoenix and Dallas / Fort Worth. If you are flying into the region from afar, Phoenix and Las Vegas are the two major airports near Grand Canyon South Rim.
You will of course find a huge selection of hotels, restaurants and other amenities if choosing to stay in Flagstaff.
Top tip: At just 1 hour and 30 minutes drive to Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is a very good central location for those who only plan to day trip into Grand Canyon before moving on to visit extremely popular tourist spot – Sedona, AZ.
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels for each budget in Flagstaff:
- Radisson: Guest rating 8.9 / 10 – check availability.
- Sleep Inn: Guest rating 8.6 / 10 – check availability.
Mid Range Budget:
- Fairfield Inn: Guest rating 9.1 / 10 – check availability.
- Drury Inn: Guest rating 8.9 / 10 – check availability.
Grand Canyon Campgrounds & RV Park
If you can’t find a hotel to fit your travel budget inside or near Grand Canyon National Park, you might consider camping or RV’ing instead.
Camping isn’t for everyone but it is a way to stay inside the park and save money.
Mather Campground and Trailer Villager RV Park are located right on South Rim close to the lodges.
- Mather campground has 327 sites – check availability.
- Trailer Village has 123 sites (80 electric hookups) – check availability.
National Park campgrounds are notoriously difficult to book into these days, especially with small to medium sized companies ‘block booking’ camp sites.
You will have to be very flexible with dates or book as early as possible if you have set dates.
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We hope this guide about where to stay in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim helps you plan your visit!
Have you been to Grand Canyon? Where did you stay and how was your experience?
Please let us know if you have any questions or need any help planning your visit.