The Grand Canyon represents a true marvel of nature. It is one of the most visited locations in all of Arizona, drawing travelers from around the globe each and every year. While Arizona is rich in luxury lodgings and amenities in all areas of natural beauty, there is only one destination that offers actual lodging below the rim of the canyon itself. Phantom Ranch provides visitors with extraordinary views and unprecedented access to the canyon. Additionally, it provides visitors with picturesque openings to the Colorado River. The Phantom Ranch is on the northern side of the river, residing remarkably close to Bright Angel Creek. This unique access point and place of lodging represents an adventure in and of itself. The Phantom Ranch is only accessible via the Colorado River, by foot, or by mule. Any traveler who plans their stay with this staple of the Grand Canyon sees elements of the formation to which few visitors have access.
A Brief History of the Grand Canyon
The lodgings began as a tourist-facilities project that was commissioned by the National Parks Service in the 1920’s. The project was put under the management of the Fred Harvey Company. The initial sketches included a series of cabins that would line the designated property. Upon completion, the plans were met with resounding praise. In fact, the first ideas for naming the buildings focused on “Roosevelt’s Chalets.” However, the actual designer was less than thrilled with the suggestions. The architect who created the plans themselves, Mary Jane Colter, threatened to remove her work, exclaiming that she had already designated the project as Phantom Ranch. With her blessing, the project continued as planned, utilizing wood sources and native stone so that the rustic cabins would blend seamlessly with their surroundings.
A Variety of Lodgings
There are a considerable number of options for visitors who come to stay at the Phantom Ranch overnight. The site features both dormitories and cabin spaces. The cabins vary in size, allowing for accommodations that range between two and ten guests at a time. Each cabin is fully equipped for visitors, including towels, liquid and bar soap, a cold-water sink, and all of the bedding necessities. The dormitories are reserved for individuals, primarily those planning on hiking in the canyon. The dorms are split into 4 distinct units. Two are designed to house men while the other two are exclusively reserved for female visitors. Each dorm is equipped with five bunk beds, a shared restroom, and a shower for guests. The accommodations given to hikers include towels and bedding. While children are welcome to stay in the dormitories, they must be at least six years old in order to stay overnight.
Visitors can also choose among many different services while staying with the Phantom Ranch. These options include meals and duffel-bag transportation. The meals from which guests can choose include breakfast, sack lunches, and dinners. Guests who take advantage of dinner service can order a steak dinner, stew, or vegetarian dinner that each vary in price. The cabin and dormitory rentals also come at flat rates, making budgeting for the trip simple and straightforward. A group cabin with the maximum number of guests can be available for as little as $225. Because space is extremely limited at the Phantom Ranch while the demand for lodging is extremely high, all reservations must be made in advance. The reservations can be made online or by phone during normal business hours. The offices are open from seven to seven, and the number to call in order to book your stay is 888-29-PARKS (888-297-2757). It is important to act quickly when making your reservations. All bookings are made on a first come, first serve basis. Travelers can begin booking their stay up to 13 months in advance of their visit.
Hiking to Home Base
People hiking the the Phantom Ranch have a couple of different trails to choose from when planning their journey. The South Kaibab Trail provides you with a 7.3 mile journey to the lodge. Most hikers can make the journey in three to four hours traveling down the trail. Visitors can also hike 10.3 miles down the Bright Angel Trail. The average hiking time for this journey is four to six hours. Some of the trips are also bundled as travel packages. The bookings can include whitewater rafting ventures on the Colorado River and mule rides that end with the Phantom Ranch. Any parties interested in these kind of amenities must make their reservations through the Central Reservation Office or outside parties. Visitors should also be aware that all meals also require advanced booking. However, beverages and snacks are available for purchase to guests during all hours of operation.
It is not unusual for family members and additional parties to meet up with guests from the Phantom Ranch at some point during their stay. When this need arises, visitors can take advantage of the National Park Service Campground that is located within a reasonable distance. Camping here simply requires that visitors secure a back-country permit. While not required for staying at the Ranch, campers can receive this permit by writing to the Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Reservations Office. Visitors to the Phantom Ranch also enjoy socializing with other explorers and hikers in addition to taking in the breath-taking views. There are plenty of picnic tables and benches outside of the cabins where guests often congregate for meals and relaxation after a day of hiking.
The Beautiful Possibilities
The staff of the Ranch is friendly and welcoming as well. The lodgings only recently received a Certificate of Excellence in 2014. They always receives flattering feedback from guests both in person and online as well. While the Phantom Ranch represents a unique opportunity for seeing the Grand Canyon in all its magnificence, there are a number of other lodging options along the south rim and beyond. The options include The Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins, Kachina Lodge, Maswik Lodge, and El Tovar. Each of these destinations provides unique access to distinctive views and hiking trails. By exploring the options for overnight stays in the heart of The Grand Canyon, you can gain easy access to one of the most stunning features of the Arizona landscape.