Grand Canyon Camping: Essential Guide to Top Spots & Tips (2024)

Ready to camp in Grand Canyon National Park? Find the best places to camp here, learn how to prep for your trip, and how to get camping permits. Whether you’re visiting the North Rim or the South Rim, seeking solitude or ease, this article can help.

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Getting to Grand Canyon National Park

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Getting to Grand Canyon National Park is easy. The two nearest airports are in Las Vegas (LAS) and Phoenix (PHX), both supporting flights from all over the world. From either airport, it’s just a matter of renting a car and driving there. The South Rim, the most popular section of the Grand Canyon, is open to traffic on Highway 64. Running west to east, it crosses borders between California, Nevada, and Arizona and then on into the depths of Arizona and Utah. The scenery on the way there is breathtaking - making this drive one of the best scenic drives in the United States.

If you aim to explore both the North and South Rims, the drive between them takes about five hours, covering a distance of 215 miles (346km). There is plenty to see between the two canyon rims as the landscape and geology change, and the wildlife is altogether different. Be prepared to stop frequently at scenic overlooks for short rests and gaze at the scenery.

Entrance Fees and Permits

In order to gain access to the state park, you may need to acquire entry fees and permits. Here's a quick breakdown of how these entry fees work:

  • Vehicle entrance fee: $35, grants access to the park for seven consecutive days

  • Annual pass: $70, provides unlimited entry for 12 months

  • Entrance fee for those arriving on foot or by bicycle: $20 per person

If you intend to stay overnight in the backcountry, you will need to obtain a backcountry permit. These permits are necessary to stay outside of the developed campground and help to preserve the natural environment. The backcountry permit costs a one-time application fee and nightly fees, and as of 2024, they will be available through The permits fill up quickly, especially in peak season, so apply well in advance.

Best Time to Visit for Camping

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A big reason why your Grand Canyon camping experience will be more enjoyable is by visiting at the right time. The two best times to camp there are actually spring and fall, which offer the following:

  • Moderate temperatures

  • Fewer crowds

  • Ideal conditions for hiking and exploring

  • Vibrant foliage in the fall

  • Blooming wildflowers in the spring

With a high season of summer, the Park has heavy precipitation, mostly monsoon rainfall, from July to mid-September. If you want to visit the Yosemite National Park in the summer, you have to suffer crowds and soaring heat all over its valley floor. You have to make a reservation early to land a spot in the campground in a fair season since spots at the most popular campgrounds are scarce.

Winter camping at the Grand Canyon is the least crowded: the North Rim is closed anyway for the season but might bring some snow (plus cold) to your campground at the South Rim. But bring plenty of warm gear and be prepared for unpredictable, shoulder-season weather at the South Rim over the colder months.

South Rim Campgrounds

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Home to several developed campgrounds geared towards all styles of campers, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular place to stay. Options in the South Rim campgrounds include Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and Trailer Village RV Campground.

There are three campgrounds available at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon:

  1. Mather Campground: the largest and most centrally located, offering easy access to the South Rim’s main attractions.

  2. Desert View Campground: situated at the park’s east entrance, provides a quieter, more secluded environment.

  3. Trailer Village RV Campground: caters specifically to RV campers with full hookups and modern facilities.

Unless you were lucky enough to get a spot right away, you needed to make reservations in advance in one of these campgrounds, especially in the prime season.

Mather Campground

Mather Campground, located in a pinewood forest, is a full-service campground open year-round. The campground contains 327 campsites, each complete with campfire ring, picnic table and parking stall. Tent camping sites provide space for up to six people and three tents at each campsite. For motor homes and RVs, a maximum of two vehicles are allowed per campsite. Campsites are outfitted with toilets, drinking water, and a free dump station. The campground provides a scenic experience with the ability to enjoy campfires and the great outdoors.

Reservations for Mather Campground, which is the only camping area available, can be made up to six months in advance and fill up quickly (especially during peak season). This campground, with a maximum visitor capacity of 336, has the following general information:

  • Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash

  • Visitors are advised to be cautious about leaving pets in vehicles during warm weather

  • With its central location and comprehensive facilities, Mather Campground is an excellent choice for campers looking to explore the South Rim.

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Desert View Campground

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Desert View Campground, located at the park’s east entrance, offers a smaller, quieter camping experience with 50 campsites. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and a campfire ring, and the campground provides flushing toilets, sinks, and water faucets. This rustic setting is perfect for those seeking a more tranquil environment away from the busier South Rim areas, such as the South Entrance Station.

Reservations for Desert View Campground are required and can be made online through RVs up to 30 feet in total length are allowed, so bear this in mind if traveling with an RV. Desert View is well-suited for those who want a more peaceful, less commercialized Grand Canyon camping experience than can be found near the South or North Rims.

Trailer Village RV Campground

Trailer Village is a full hookup RV campground with pull-through and back-in sites. Open year-round. On-site amenities at Trailer Village RV Campground include:

  • Arranged in pull-through paved sites with sewer, water, and 30 and 50-amp electrical hook-up.

  • Laundry facility

  • Showers

  • Dump station

These amenities ensure a comfortable stay for RV campers.

Currently, reservations at Trailer Village RV Campground can be booked as far as 13 months in advance at If you are visiting the Grand Canyon via RV from May to October – the very busy season – a year-in-advance booking is recommended. Busy season or not, the contemporary amenities and close-in parking at Trailer Village RV Campground make it the premier choice for travelers arriving in rigs.

North Rim Campgrounds

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With only one lodge and no strip malls or traffic to speak of, the camping experience along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon comes with considerably less hustle and bustle than that of the South Rim. Rich with wildlife and unparalleled views, the North Rim is a quieter, more wild, and natural place to camp. The North Rim has two campgrounds and one remote backcountry campground – Tuweep.

The North Rim Campground is situated at 8,200 feet and is open from May to October each year. The Tuweep Campground, remote and best accessed by a high-clearance vehicle, has only the barest of services. The Grand Canyon’s North Rim affords spectacular and untrammeled campsites.

North Rim Campground

The North Rim Campground features:

  • 90 campsites equipped with picnic tables, campfire rings, cooking grills, and water spigots

  • Flush toilets

  • Showers

  • A laundry facility

  • A gas station

  • A general store

The North Rim Campground is wheelchair accessible, and family campsites/back-in sites in this campground have larger spacing between sites and higher fire rings to accommodate wheelchair users. The North Rim Campground is a great camping spot to stay in, with its multiple facilities and its location on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.

Tuweep Campground

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Tuweep Campground sits on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and is one of the most remote campgrounds in the United States. Here are a couple facts about this campground that make it unique:

  • You can only get to Tuweep by a high-clearance vehicle.

  • Campers must be prepared to camp completely off-grid. There are no utilities like water or heat.

  • The remote location means that there is absolutely no light pollution from nearby cities. This means you can get some pretty incredible stargazing.

A backcountry permit is needed to set up camp here; however, Tuweep is perfect for experienced campers seeking solitude and adventure in one of the most remote parts of the Grand Canyon.

Backcountry Camping

No type of experience in the Grand Canyon offers more adventure and immersion than backcountry camping, and that’s precisely why it requires a permit. Backcountry permits for overnight stays must be reserved long in advance and are varied and specific for each zone within backcountry areas. Each offers a different regimen, experience, and perspective on what the Grand Canyon is really about. Some of the more popular backcountry zones include Bright Angel Campground.

  • Indian Garden Campground

  • Cottonwood Campground

  • Hermit Creek Campground

Experiencing these zones is the best way to feel a profound inner connection with the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and take a real set of memories away with you.

These popular backcountry traveler trails and campsites are the Bright Angel, South Kaibab, and North Kaibab trails and their respective campsites: Havasupai Gardens and Campground, Hualapai, Indian Gardens/Picnic, Cottonwood, Bright Angel, and others. Many of the best places and the best time to enjoy the quiet splendors of the Grand Canyon are in the wildest and most challenging areas of the park: on foot. These areas are accessed by campers, hikers, and others on backcountry trails.

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Bright Angel Campground

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Bright Angel Campground is situated at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, within three-quarters of a mile of the Colorado River. One can reach it down the South Kaibab Trail, crossing the black bridge, or down the Bright Angel Trail, crossing the silver bridge. There, tucked beneath the cottonwood trees and adjacent to Bright Angel Creek, one is welcomed into a cool oasis after dropping thousands of feet down into the canyon.

It takes a little planning to get to Bright Angel Campground in the Grand Canyon. Provisions for the trip include large amounts of water, food, and a backcountry permit – just a few of the essentials to surviving and thriving in a remote setting on a strenuous hike. The secluded nature of the spot and the reward of being next to the creek make up for the effort of getting there.

Cottonwood Campground

Upper Campground near Cottonwood Campground, above the North Rim. If you wish to camp deeper into the backcountry, Cottonwood Campground is located 6.8 miles below the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail. It is a small, seasonal campground (mid-May through mid-October), but it does have seasonal potable drinking water that many hikers can take advantage of when traversing the North Kaibab Trail. There is an emergency phone and toilets available.

Cottonwood trees provide shade on warm days, and the campground is both accessible and equipped with everything needed for a stay in the backcountry of the North Rim.

Must-See Attractions While Camping

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It’s not all just about where you’re sleeping at the Grand Canyon; there are also some incredible experiences to be had while you’re there. The park has many viewpoints, or scenic overlooks, including the ever-popular Mather Point and Yavapai Observation Station, both of which sit high up on the rim and offer spectacular views down into the canyon below. Visit the visitor center.

Up on the Tonto Trail, which follows the base of the Tonto Platform below the South Rim, everything in the Canyon looks vast, even at an angle. There is, of course, plenty to do, from biking and hiking to participating in the junior ranger program.

Havasu Falls

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The Havasupai Indian Reservation, close to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, houses one of the most beautiful natural destinations in the immediate vicinity. Havasu Falls is a deep turquoise-blue waterfall, access to which entails permits and a challenging 10-mile hike in each direction. Swimming pools surrounding the falls are a perfect place for cooling off and relaxation upon the completion of the arduous hike.

The hike may be difficult, but the reward of the falls and a dip in their cool waters make Havasu an unforgettable spectacle for hardy intrepid campers. With the proper permit and the right equipment, you, too, could enjoy a visit.

Grand Canyon Camping: Essential Guide to Top Spots & Tips (13)

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Grand Canyon Camping: Essential Guide to Top Spots & Tips (14)

Pitching a tent at the Grand Canyon is one of the finest ways to connect with one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders. Options abound at the developed South Rim campgrounds, not to mention the more quiet and laid-back North Rim or some backcountry camping opportunities to thrill even the most ready of adventurers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Entrance Fee for Grand Canyon National Park?

The entrance fee for Grand Canyon National Park is $35 per vehicle for a 7-day pass, or $20 per person if arriving on foot or by bicycle, with an annual pass available for $70.

When is the Best Time to Visit for Camping?

The most enjoyable time for camping is during the spring and fall when the temperatures aren't too hot nor too cold and when there is a general reduction in visitors. In summer, things can be hot and crowded, whereas you will most likely be alone in winter.

How Do I Make Camping Reservations?

You can reserve camping in the South Rim campgrounds at or at the Trailer Village RV Campground at

What Are the Rules for Dispersed Camping in Kaibab National Forest?

When dispersed camping in Kaibab National Forest, you can usually camp outside of developed campgrounds, but some restrictions apply. Coconino Rim Road and Forest Service Road 688 are two popular dispersion areas.

Grand Canyon Camping: Essential Guide to Top Spots & Tips (2024)


Is it better to camp on the north or south rim of the Grand Canyon? ›

Grand Canyon National Park is vast, so you'll need to decide if you want to camp on the South or North Rim (it's a five-hour drive between the two). If you're looking to camp somewhere that's easy to reach and open year-round, you'll want to plan your trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

How many days to camp at Grand Canyon? ›

A 7-day Grand Canyon camping trip is the perfect amount of time to enjoy the entirety of the park and get in some good hiking as well. Consider yourself lucky if you get to explore both sides of the canyon, as most people never make it to the North Rim.

Can you spend the night in your car at the Grand Canyon? ›

Can You Camp in Your Car in the Grand Canyon? Yes, the National Park Service allows you to sleep in your car inside the park, but you still need to reserve a campsite. You cannot just sleep in your car in a parking lot, for example.

Which is the best month to visit Grand Canyon? ›

The best times to visit the Grand Canyon are March through May and September through November, when daytime temperatures are cool and crowds are thin. If you decide to visit during the summer (the park's peak season), be prepared for hordes of tourists and very limited lodging availability.

Which side of the Grand Canyon is prettier? ›

Grand Canyon South Rim is most frequently chosen by first-time visitors to the area not only for its beautiful views, but for its abundance of visitor services and family-oriented activities. The South Rim is open year-round. At 7,000' above sea level, the South Rim has four distinct seasons.

How much does it cost to camp at the Grand Canyon? ›

The cost of camping at the Grand Canyon varies according to where you make reservations. Most campsites are $10-15 per night, and some are as much as $40 per night for group sites. There also many be additional costs to add extra people to the campsite.

Can you camp in Grand Canyon without a reservation? ›

However, between the months of May and October, it is possible to get a campsite in and around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon without reserving a site 6 months in advance.

How much does it cost to sleep at the Grand Canyon? ›

By far, the cheapest way to stay in or near the Grand Canyon is by camping. The park has four frontcountry campgrounds, three on the South Rim and one on the North Rim. The three managed by the National Park Service (Mather and Desert View on the South Rim and the North Rim Campground) cost less than $20 a night.

What is not allowed at the Grand Canyon? ›

Feeding, touching, teasing, or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited. Throwing or rolling rocks or other items down hillsides or mountainsides, into valleys or canyons, or inside caves is prohibited.

Does it get cold at night in the Grand Canyon? ›

Overnight lows can still drop near to below freezing occasionally on the North Rim, although typically low temperatures range from the 40s and 50s (4-15°C) at the South Rim to the 60s and 70s (16-26°C) at Phantom Ranch.

Where to sleep in your car near Grand Canyon? ›

Inside Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim
  • Mather Campground. Rim: South. ...
  • Desert View Campground. Rim: South. ...
  • Trailer Village RV Park (RV Only) Rim: South. ...
  • North Rim Campground. Rim: North. ...
  • Ten-X Campground. Rim: South. ...
  • Grand Canyon Camper Village. Rim: South. ...
  • Dispersed Camping - South Rim. Rim: South. ...
  • DeMotte Campground.

What is the rainiest month in the Grand Canyon? ›

Monthly Average Temperature Grand Canyon South Rim
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What is the cheapest month to visit Grand Canyon? ›

The best time for a budget-friendly adventure is November to February. Beyond the $35, year-long vehicle permit (plus your equipment and supplies), the Grand Canyon National Park is generally budget friendly. To save some extra bucks, book flights between November and February.

How early should you arrive at the Grand Canyon? ›

The South Entrance to the park can get this busy during spring break, summer and weekends during the fall. If you arrive between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, be prepared for a wait between 45 minutes to 2 hours. Try to arrive before 9:30 am or after 4 pm.

What is better, south or North Rim Grand Canyon? ›

Scenic Views: Both rims provide stunning views of the canyon, but each offers a unique perspective. The South Rim is known for its wide, expansive views, while the North Rim provides a more varied landscape, with a mix of forested areas and dramatic overlooks.

Is it worth staying at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon? ›

For most South Rim visitors, one day is enough to take pictures, walk around the rim and even take a Grand Canyon helicopter tour or vehicle tour. But if you're planning on exploring the Grand Canyon a little more in-depth, staying in or near the park is a great idea.

Is North Rim Grand Canyon worth it? ›

While most visitors to the Grand Canyon congregate on the South Rim, the North Rim is far less crowded but still offers so much stunning scenery to explore. I try to make a quick trip to the North Rim at least once a summer.

How many nights to stay at North Rim Grand Canyon? ›

Visitors to the North Rim can't realistically do it in just one day, so we encourage you to book at least one overnight; even better, increase your length of stay to at least two nights and plan to stay at the rim or in Page, Fredonia or southern Utah.

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