Mather Campground is located on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona. Grand Canyon is one of the most inspiring landscapes on Earth and draws over five million visitors per year to its spectacular scenery. The campground is large and can accommodate a variety of needs and comfort levels. It is the only campground within Grand Canyon Village. Scenic overlooks, the park's free shuttle bus system, the Visitor Center, the general store and hiking and biking trails are all within a few miles from the facility. The campground is at an elevation of approximately 7,000 ft. Summers are sunny with high temperatures generally in the 80s. Thunderstorms frequently occur in July, August, and early September. Fall and spring are mostly sunny and cool with the occasional snow. Weather is variable; visitors should come prepared.
From the campground, campers can access the Greenway, a paved walking and biking trail that leads to scenic overlooks and the Visitor Center. The Rim Trail, a paved walking trail, is one mile away and runs for 14 miles along the edge of the canyon. Leashed pets are allowed on both trails, but are not permitted below the rim. Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails descend into the canyon. Their trailheads are a short shuttle bus ride from the campground. The park's concessionaire also offers day and overnight mule riding trips into the canyon and along the rim.
Mather Campground is a large facility with 327 campsites. Each site includes a campfire ring with a cooking grate, picnic table, parking space and room for up to three tents. There are flush toilets and drinking water spigots throughout the campground. There are no hookups available but there is a free dump station near by at Camper Services. Trailer Village, located next to Mather Campground, has hookups and can accommodate larger RVs. Almost all of the RV spaces are pull-through. Generators are NOT permitted in Pine Loop (sites 265-319).
Mather Campground lies beneath a mixture of a tall canopy of Ponderosa pine, Pinyon, and Juniper trees, providing most campsites with ample shade. The campground is one mile from the rim of the canyon. A visit to the canyon during sunrise and sunset yields spectacular views of yellow, orange, red and violet hues in the canyon walls. Layers of rock display billions of years of geologic history. Campers can take a short shuttle bus ride from the campground to the Visitors Center. Visitors can also visit Yavapai Geology Museum, where they learn about the forces that formed the canyon. Below, visitors can see the mighty Colorado River, which flows 277 miles through the bottom of the canyon. Wildlife abounds on the South Rim, including elk, mule deer, coyotes, lizards, songbirds and the endangered California condor. Although condors nest below the rim, they can be seen soaring several thousand feet above the canyon in search for carrion.
Numerous visitor centers, restaurants, museums and shops are within a shuttle bus ride from the campground. Beyond the village, Desert View provides one of the widest views of Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert. The Desert View Watchtower displays the talent of architect Mary Jane Colter. Tusayan Ruin and Museum provide glimpses into the life of a small Ancestral Puebloan village 800 years ago. Both are within 25 miles from the campground.
ADA Access: N
Large well maintained campground in the heart of the south rim. You can expect all the usual NPS services and amenities- fire pit, picnic table, pit bathrooms and many many families on vacation.
The location at the heart of south rim is great and unbeatable and makes the strangers kids shouts worth it.
I loved how peaceful and serene this campground is. So easy to check in and out; there is also a laundromat and showers on site! The rim is only a short bus ride (provided by the park) away! About 5 minutes! Loved it and will be back again!
Just the perfect combination of being close to the canyon, and out alone in nature. Lots of trees for hammocks, views of the sunset, and even wandering elk make this campsite incredible
We had a group spot to ourselves, lots of space and the site was tucked between the trees. Elk walking around all the time, really neat to see. A lot of restrooms. The crows are mischievous so keep all of your stuff stowed away. Close drive to the canyon rim and hiking, we would stay here again.
Drove in at the last minute, the sign says full, but talked to backcountry office ranger and he got us a site right in the middle of mather. Elk everywhere, huge site, with fire pit and picnic table. Flat tent pad, under a tree. and a lot quieter than I thought it would be. We were headed down to Phantom ranch the next day super early and was within 10 minutes of backcountry office on the south rim.
Tent camp in an officially recognized International Dark Sky Park!
Bathrooms and drinking water are located through out each loop. Shower and laundry a little walk at the entrance to the campgrounds.
By day there is plenty of shade and trees. The National Park shuttle system has a stop a the front of the campsite to get you anywhere you need to go.
Nights are cool and the starts are incredible, one the the best star gazing locations in the nation.
Was able to secure a reservation about two weeks in advance for a Saturday night stay in July. If you weren't able to get a reservation in advance, check back a week or two prior to your desired dates for cancellations.
The check in was easy, only took a few seconds to find our reservation and give us directions to the site.
The site was mostly level, clean, and fairly large considering the size of the campground. There was a good mix of shade to put the tent and chairs, and open sky to view the stars. Looking around, we probably had one of the least shaded sites, but it wasn't too bad. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill.
The site was fairly close to a restroom and there was some noise from the air dryers and the door opening and closing throughout the night. They were clean though, and there's a sink around back for dishwashing. I would not pick a site right next to a bathroom: there was a site maybe 15 feet away and that's too close.
All of our neighbors were nice and quiet, but we could hear a couple loud groups coming from the far parts of the campground. The hosts are very strict about the generator curfew (love it!) and not stringing stuff from trees. Hammocks are fine, but you need to take it down when you're not actually in it. This is to protect the animals who will wander through your site.
Watch for lots of pedestrians walking down the road to and from the showers. We didn't use those facilities.
There are lots of elk and deer that are waaay too comfortable around humans, so make sure you keep all food put away, watch your pets, and take your trash to the dumpsters. It was interesting seeing the elk, but sad at the same time. One of our neighbors left a trash bag out overnight and the elk (and later the crows) destroyed it.
The campground is about a 20 minute walk from Mather Point and the visitors center via a paved walking path that starts just past the Juniper Loop. There's a whole network of paths, mostly paved, some dirt, around the Village that connects most everything, plus the shuttle bus. The general store is about 1/4 mile from the campground entrance.
Near zero cell service with Sprint. Just enough to get an occasional push notification.
Great camping spot. Lots of spaces. Coin operated showers and laundry. This campground is literally within walking distance from the Grand Canyon Village which was very nice. Beautiful place.
The best site on a national park yet!! Theres electricity hook up tho for those wanna be on a wild side away from city id suggest a 6 month reservation to havasupai falls.
Mather Campground Review
For some reason, despite never having been there before, I have always thought that the Grand Canyon is the most American of all national parks. So I planned my SW trip to start off here. We flew into Vegas and we got to drive through the Kaibab National Forest to get to Mather campground (if you can’t find any available campground reservations within the GCNP itself I would recommend checking for site availability at Kaibab). The surrounding area is much more forested than I had anticipated- so watch out for unexpected large wildlife!
On our first night we arrived at site 260 in the oak loop slightly past sunset with enough light to find our site and set everything up. For sites 259-264 PLEASE LOOK AT A MAP to find your campsite, there is an unmarked turn to the right after site 213 to get to this section and we were quite confused when we drove through the entire main loop and then found ourselves back on a main road without encountering 260. Our site itself had a nice spread to it that made it feel relatively private despite clear visibility to the sites on either side of us. There was definitely enough room to set up 2 tents. The bathrooms were decent enough, however they are equipped with those fast-drying hand dryers that are LOUD and the noise carries well into the campground. For this reason alone I would try to avoid being in the near vicinity of the bathrooms, unless you can sleep with ear plugs in or are a heavy sleeper.
There are apparently coin operated showers at the beginning of the campground area, but we didn’t even know they existed at the time so I can’t comment on those. The bathrooms DO have an outlet between the two sinks that people use for various purposes- one morning a lady was brewing coffee, another morning I used it to quickly blow dry my hair after spritzing it (I just have a pixie, don’t hog the sink area if you are going to take more than a few minutes!).
Here are some tips that I have to share from my trip
-We were there the first weekend of June and it was perfect! Cool temps at night, relatively hot during the day, and since a lot of schools aren't out yet the tourist situation was never bad. We never had to wait on a shuttle.
-Wake up early for the sunrise! If you are a light sleeper you will probably be woken up an hour before sunrise by your fellow campers getting ready to go watch it rise. You might as well join them. If you’re planning on hiking down into the canyon you should do it soon after the sunrise so your hike will be shaded and cooler than mid-day. We really liked the South Kaibib trail- we only went to Ooh-Aah point and back and that was a fulfilling hiking experience for us. The signs about going up being hard are all true.
-There is a nice coffee shop by the visitor center that has reasonable prices on some grab and go type food- they even have a microwave to heat up sandwiches
-Only have one night to catch the sunset? Catch it in two places! We started our sunset viewing by hopping on the red shuttle, getting off at Hopi point to watch the colors in the canyon change(the shuttle does NOT pick up at this location going back towards the visitor center), then once you have had enough of watching the colors in the canyon change color hop back onto the shuttle to Mohave point to watch the sky colors change. You have a pretty view of the sunset over the river and the furthest outlook point here. Once the sky colors are past their peak hustle back to the shuttle pickup area to try to prevent having to wait too long for a ride back. By doing this you avoid the huge crowd of people waiting to be shuttled back to the visitor center at Powell Point (Powell point is right next to Hopi point so you have crowds from both locations trying to get back).
-Are you looking for a place to charge your phone and have wifi? The nearby Starbucks does NOT have public outlets.
-Elk are abundant! Leave them alone! Do not get close to them to take a picture- you will more than likely never look at it ever again so it’s not worth the risk of getting hurt!
-Do the Desert View drive and get a fry bread taco from the restaurant located in the desert view tower area (the taco wasn’t fried like you can get elsewhere, but it was still really good and toppings tasted better than any other fry bread taco I have had)! My favorite Grand Canyon overlook was at the tower area- really great view of the river. Pay attention to which parts of the park you are entering and leaving though. We did the drive on our first full day there, then found out we had to go the same route the next day to exit the park towards Page. It takes a while to exit the park going this way since the speed limit starts off pretty slow. Also, going east on 64 after you leave the park is stunning. There is an official scenic overlook that you can pull off and hike a ways to and putz around at the top of a canyon.
-We found that a two-night stay was the perfect amount of time for us since we didn’t want to do a ton of hiking into the canyon (the cautionary signs are a very good deterrent) and we were still able to spend a decent amount of time at many of the overlooks.
-If you are renting a car check to make sure that you can drive to all of the states on your itinerary! We rented our car from Budget at the Las Vegas airport location that you take a shuttle to and had no idea until we got there that we were only allowed to drive to Arizona, Utah, California and Nevada! Luckily we didn't add on Mesa Verde like we were trying to at the last minute. The cars have a sticker notifying you that they have a tracker in them.
Icemule Pro Large Cooler review
As a Dyrt Ranger I got the opportunity to test out exciting camping gear from time to time. For this camping trip I was provided an Icemule Pro Large backpack cooler to review. I was extremely excited to try this out because the only cooler that I have is a cheapo 6-pack holder that you can pretty much just use to keep a few drinks cold for an evening. I liked that this was a backpack instead of a traditionally shaped cooler or a tote bag since lugging a cooler full of consumables AND ice isn’t the most ergonomic thing in the world when you are carrying it on one side of your body or if you need to hoist it up in front of you. Wheeled coolers are also great when you have a smooth surface to pull them across, but you definitely wouldn’t bring one on a trail!
Another nice thing about using this pack instead of a cooler is that it easily fits in places that coolers don’t. We had our car pretty full of suitcases and camping gear, so this just sat on the floor behind the passenger seat for most of the trip. This is currently the smallest bag that they have in this style, and it is huge! I was considering getting a larger size, but I’m so glad that I didn’t. These are the details on the site: Capacity: 23L/ 18 cans+ ice In Use Dimensions: 17" x 11" x 14" Weight: 3.2 lbs
I used this cooler on my weeklong Southwest trip last week. For the first 3 days it was used solely as a car cooler and was filled with about 3/4 of a plastic grocery bag’s worth of food and drink and a big bag of ice that had it completely full. I would not want to carry this full on my back for a significant amount of time. The ice lasted almost 3 days when it was filled to the top with ice on day 1, which is pretty impressive considering that it was in a hot car most of the time. I am looking into loose ice alternatives since it was a pain to try to hack the ice cubes apart (they had fused together on day 2) to try to find what I wanted. Also, there isn’t a spout to release any of the melted water so you need to carefully empty the bag while preventing your stuff from falling out. I’m probably going to experiment with frozen water bottles or with the flexible ice pack sheets.
I really enjoyed this cooler when I had just a short layer of ice at the bottom and a few drinks in it for hiking. It was an odd experience hiking in the treacherous heat at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada (go here in the early early morning or after 5pm its amazing!) and having brain freeze from extremely chilled water.
Room for improvement
-The pads that are against your back while wearing this are quite scratchy- the first time I brought this on a hike I had to have my husband wear it since I was wearing a tank top that exposed my back to the pads.
-The chest strap(like on the majority of packs) is too low. When I have the chest straps joined together at their highest setting it cuts across my chest in an unfortunate way
-Like I said before- this thing is enormous AND there are even larger sizes!!! They only offer smaller bags in a crossbody style, but I prefer a backpack style.
-I think this line of backpack coolers is geared towards men and the crossbody style is geared towards women. This is evident in the color selection- this pack style currently comes in black, duct tape gray, olive, and camo. I like the black style the most, but I find it easier to find colored things in my storage room so I went with the olive. I do appreciate how little room it takes to store!
I would give this 4/5 stars on account of the minor details that prevented this cooler from being as comfortable as it could- mainly the itchy padding and the chest strap location. I probably would have given it 4.5/5 had there been a better color selection too (shallow, I know). This definitely isn’t a replacement for my regular hiking pack, but I’m definitely glad to have it since I’m usually hiking with my husband so we can each have a pack. There are some accessories that you can purchase to use with the icemule that I think are worth checking out. I bought their drybag for storing unsealed food in the cooler and there is also a Icemule Pro Pack dry storage compartment that you can stash on the outside of the cooler.
This item has a 15% price increase from the time I ordered it to the time that I am writing this review, so if you're interested in picking one up do it sooner than later and you should be able to get 10% off currently on your first order.