Tight quarters amongst other RVs but you can’t beat the proximity to the rim. A 5 minute bike ride and you can cruise along the south rim. The free shuttle bus is also a great way to hop along and see the various highlights. We’d stay here again!
Mather Campground is a 15min walk from the south rim trail. There are lots of campsite but they fill up quickly so make a reservation. There’s a store, laundry and shower facility for the campers but it can be a walk from a distant campsite. Make sure you check in when you arrive.
Cell Service: Slow, Roaming, Verizon.
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.
Great location, no reservation needed, but you do need to get there pretty early for a spot. Camping spots are really spacious. A little noisy. Bathrooms were clean and stocked other than soap.
We loved camping here. If you don't like a lot of people then staying on the east side of the canyon is so much better. Terrific camp ground and the host is the best you'll find!
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.
like the previous reviewers, you need to have reservations to stay at the ranch. i looked for a reservation, they were full, put my name on the lottery list, and got a spot the next day. Super lucky we were. Hike down not bad, about 4 hrs down, and hike up not too bad about 4 1/2 hours. Its was 123 when we arrived at the ranch before 10. we left south rim at 530. we soaked in the stream alongside the ranch which was a much needed cool down. food was good, the mess hall was filled with hikers from all over the world. dorm rooms were cooled by a swamp cooler. bunks were clean, showers were cold, and bunkmates were full of info and funny stories.
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.
My grandchildren and I arrived in July of 2018 and spent two nights here in my 17ft Winnebago Micro Minni Winni Camper. The campground host “Bill” was awesome! I was new to parking my camper and Bill helped to get her in position.
We enjoyed this campground so much, I decided if there was ever an opening for a campground host, I would be the first to apply!
I did and yes, I got the job!!! Come on out and visit Miss Belle and Miss Roe at Desert View Campground!
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.
The Maple Loop is the outer most campground loop. It is a hike if you choose to walk to the GC shuttle stop. We chose to drive to the nearby market and catch the shuttle there. We reserved our energy for hikes around the rim. Firewood is available at the market for $7.49 (the highest price we’ve ever paid for firewood). Elk roamed the campground. Flush toilets are available and an outdoor sink is available to wash dishes. Camp sites are close together but the trees offer privacy from your neighbors. We kept our campsite tidy and the ravens were not s problem. $2 8- minute showers and a laundromat are available at camper services at the entrance to the campground.
The North Rim Campground is the only campground located on the North Rim, and although massive, you HAVE to reserve your campsite 6 months in advance or it is likely you will not get one. We had planned our road trip way in advance for this reason. There are some “prime view” sites but they go very quickly. We ended up with a tent-only site which was on its own loop off to the side, but you only had to walk a few yards to look out over the rim. The whole park is beautiful, so don’t stress on getting a particular view.
The tent-only sites had their own designated parking spot not far from the site itself. The sites were close together but staggered so that you were not right up next to your neighbor. They each came with a fire pit, picnic table, and a leveled tent space. There are many bathroom locations around the sites, I did however look at the map online beforehand to get a site close to one. We were next to not only the “original” vault toilets but also “real” toilets that had sinks and a small mirror, plus a dish washing station.
There were a few potable water stations throughout, but keep in mind, if the weather is below freezing it is likely going to freeze and not work. It was snowing while we were there (which is unusual for spring) and the water did not work, thankfully we had brought our own. There is also a camp store with all sorts of groceries and resupplying needs (food, plastic utensils, fuel, candy, beer…..you know the necessities.) They have coin showers and laundry located near the ranger hut as well.
From the campsite, there is a short 2 mile hike over to The Lodge, which has a couple restaurants, coffee hut and bar, and gift shop. This is also where you will find the paths out to a few viewing areas of the Grand Canyon. Be aware it is very crowded, but worth the hike or drive over.
Since we only had one full day to hike, we decided we would take that day to hike the North Kaibab which goes down into the canyon. On the drive in we noticed the trailhead parking lot was completely full and overflowing so we woke up around 5 AM, made breakfast and got to the trailhead around 5:45 AM so we could get a parking spot. We went a total of 12 miles, 6 down (easy peasy) and 6 up (not so easy peasy), but the views were unlike anything I have ever seen! Keep in mind when going down that Yes, you do have to go back up and that last 2 miles from the top is nothing but switchbacks and they WILL murder you.
We did not see much wildlife while we were there, but it was snowing most of the time. They warned against leaving food out because of the ravens, so we made sure to keep our food up in the car. Take some time to visit the North Rim, we only had 3 days and I wished we had much much more!
As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At North Rim Campground, I tested the Primus Primetech 2.3 Liter Stove Set.
Now for the past few years I have been using my MSR Pocket Rocket for all my backpacking needs, but this trip was with my husband and was more like car camping than anything, so we opted to choose a little bigger stove. Primus has many variety of stoves, but we very much liked the sound of the new Primetech stove that has a nonstick pan and wind guard. It comes in a 1.3 Liter as well, but we eat a lot…
Never having used anything by Primus, I did not quite know what to expect. I ordered directly from the Primus website and received the product within the week. The stove and parts came all packed together in a nice carrying pouch that makes it very easy handle. It is bigger than the stove I am used to and probably not the best for backpacking with, but it is great if you have some extra room to spare and a few bodies to cook for!
At first, I will tell you, I got very frustrated. I could not for the life of me figure it out. I read the instructions over and over again, doing EXACTLY what they said to do. Well…that was the problem.
The set up was nice and easy, but lighting it was the issue. The instructions say to turn the valve 2 whole turns, then use the Piezo Lighter to light. Well I can tell you, after much trial and error, it needed much more than 2 turns. I originally thought it was the lighter itself, so we tried a different lighter and failed again. Long story short, I found that that you need to turn the valve until you hear a light stream of gas then use the Piezo Lighter (could be upwards of 5 whole turns.)
Once I figured out how to light the thing, I fell in LOVE! The Primetech stove is Awesome!
Things I LOVE!! :
The whole thing packs up into itself and comes in a nice carrying case!
The gas valve makes it feel like you are cooking over your gas stove at home. You can decrease and increase the flame to you cooking needs without any effort at all!
The lid for the pot has an integrated strainer and the wind guard on the bottom works wonders!
The set comes with 2 pot, one of which has a non-stick coating that actually works! I have spent too many nights scrubbing the burned noodles out of a pot in freezing cold water as my fingers go numb….not anymore!! You can literally get a paper towel and wipe the excess food out of the pot.
This is one AMAZING stove set. We brought our old stove set on the trip just in case this one didn’t hold up to our liking, we didn’t even unpack the thing. I will be using the Primetech Primus stove for many years to come!
-Quick tip: Make sure to use a Primus fuel canister if you have one available. We originally attached a leftover MSR fuel canister we had and for some reason when connecting it the fuel leaked out a got all over my hand (it didn’t feel so good), when I attached the Primus canister later I didn’t have an issue!
Hard to get a spot at this site during peak season. We were lucky enough to get one night over Memorial Day weekend, but then had to find dispersed camping in the National Forest just outside the park for our second night.
Facilities were great, and easy access to the main areas of the park. Saw lots of wildlife at the camp site, even had a few deer/elk pass right through our site while sitting in the hammock.
I stayed here for 2 nights in October, during that time it was very cold in the Grand Canyon. This campground didn’t have many people staying in it, so it was very quiet. The bathrooms were close by and there was a laundry facility. There were large deer everywhere.
This. Place. Breathtakingly beautiful. Obviously the canyon stole the show, but Mather Park was a treat as well. It was jam packed with tourists, but still amazing! I loved being close to the general store and hotel, complete with a restaurant, coffee shop and cafeteria hall! We decided to go on a walk the next morning to view the sunrise and it only took us about 15 minutes from our campsite! Hiking down and back up the South Kaibab trail was a treat for the both of us as we got engaged near mid-point! The hike down was easy, but going back up was tough! Be sure to pack lots of water and carry minimally, and abide by the signs. The views are incredible and the park staff were all very nice! The weather during March was a bit nippy at night inside the tent, but during the day it warmed up. We can’t wait to go back and experience Horseshoe Bend!
The campsite was cozy but you have to pay $2 in quarters for a "18min" shower which was more like 10mins. There was quite a bit of trash around the site. We picked up and threw away what we could. We camped there on a Monday then backpacked in the grand canyon and came back to Mather on thursday. Not very quite but great if you're wanting a cheap in the park option for sleeping.
If you win the lottery, this is the place to stay!
Let me clarify. This place is amazing, but the only way to get here it by winning a random lottery for a room (link is HERE). It's such a popular location (for incredibly good reason), that you have to enter a lottery, pick some dates, and cross your fingers. All 3 adults in our group entered, and one of us was picked. Hip hip hooray!
It's located on Bright Angel Creek, just a little bit from the Colorado River. In order to get to Phantom Ranch, you have to be insane enough to want to travel down inside the earth about a mile (most people call this the Grand Canyon), in the sun, covered in red dirt, with your backpack, and enough salty snacks and water to feed an elephant (or you can rent a ride on the mules) That said, if you have the drive and insanity and muscles to get you there, the reward is awesome lemonade, night time ranger talks, conversations with mules (because you might just be that tired at the end of the night), unbelievable experiences meeting other fellow hikers, and delicious comfort food.
Okay, now you can't possibly expect the Ritz when you get here. It's not about that. It's not even close, but it's 5 star in a totally different way. Keep in mind, that this Ranch has been here since the early 1920's. And supplies were either local to the area at the bottom, or brought by mule. So it's not fancy.
What to expect: There are a few ways to stay at Phantom Ranch. First are dorms. There are about 10 bunks per dorm, and it's women and men. Women in one, men in the other. Each dorm has a toilet with a door (modern plumbing) and a shower with hot water. There is also a sink. Each person claims a bunk and that's theirs for their stay. The other way is to rent a cabin. More expensive, but more private. If you rent the cabin, you and yours are the only ones sharing it. Because it's "out of the way", not all the modern conveniences work all the time. So expect it to be a little rustic, but it's all part of the experience. The cabins and dorms have air and heat, so it's a more comfortable experience than camping in a tent.
There is potable water scattered around, a few composting toilets if you are away from your cabin, picnic tables, two outdoor amphitheaters (normally a daytime ranger program at one, and a night program at the other). Inside the canteen you can purchase drinks (alcoholic and non), hiking essentials (toothbrush, sunscreen, salve, etc) and a selection of souvenirs. They even have a little library of books to read, and games that you can borrow and play.
There are some meals available, but you need to order them in advance (or check with them each day to see if they have enough for you to order it). The two evening meals are beef stew and steak. Not cheap, but so worth it! They come with fixings like cornbread, veggies and such, and always dessert. You can also order a veggie option. Breakfast is family style (as is dinner) and was pancakes, bacon, eggs etc when we were there. Coffee and juice too. There aren't many options, but think about it…all the groceries have to be delivered by mule. Make sense? Breakfast is offered at 2 different times (your choice) so you can get hiking early, if you want. Dinner is at different times, too, depending on what you order.
While you are there, you can buy a postcard and have it mailed from the Ranch, by mule! Cool little way to tell your loved ones "look what I did!".
So much to say about this "little piece of wonderful"! You really just have to see it for yourself!
NOTE: please read up on traveling to the bottom of the canyon before you go. Make wise choices about what time of year you want to travel. It was April when we went, and although it was about 50 degrees at the South Rim, it was close to 90 degrees at the bottom. In the summer, they said it can get to about 120 degrees in the shade. So please plan accordingly for snacks, water, travel, clothing choices and temperature
We didn't have the pleasure of staying at Bright Angel Campground, because we had bunks a Phantom Ranch, but what an amazing place to stay! At the bottom of the canyon, how many people get to say they've been there?
It's hard to get there, since you have to hike over a mile down into the earth to find it, but if you've reserved your spot in advance, it's an amazing opportunity! You MUST have a permit to stay at this campground, and it takes months to get one, so please plan in advance.
You can not hike down and get a spot at the campground. You have to have a permit.
Cost: $10 for the permit and $8 per person with 30 sites for small groups (1 to 2 tents) and 2 spots for larger groups (up to 7 tents, I think)
Once you have a permit, and arrive at the campground, it is first come first serve to pick a spot.
The sites aren't terribly private, but they are incredibly unique. Each features a spot on the water, or just across the trail from the water, and it's on the Bright Angel Creek, just a half mile from the Little Colorado River. Each site also had a lock box (like a cooler with latches) for food to keep it from the ravenous, and none to shy, squirrels, as well as a metal "T" post for hanging your packs and shoes. NOTE: Keep your packs UNZIPPED so that the squirrels don't chew holes into them, if they manage to pull circus stunts and find them on the poles. The cool part? Those poles are part of the old telephone line/system in the canyon! Great little piece of history being repurposed!
I assume that everyone at the bottom has the stamina and gumption to get there, so they respect everyone else that did too. And those that were crazy enough to try, without athletic ability, have a newfound insane appreciation for what it takes to do it at all, and respects everyone even more, so privacy at the campsites isn't an issue. It's a privilege to be there at all.
There are bathrooms, potable water, emergency phone, boat beach for soaking tired feet in icy water, ranger station and lots of good company. I highly recommend it, if you are just crazy enough to try. You won't regret the memories!
It seems like the campground might be crowded, and you can see your neighbors in most sites, but there are trees and some privacy. Deer wander through, too, which is fun. There and sidewalks for the children to ride bikes and scooters. It can be a bit of a walk to reach the shuttle, but it’s worth the effort to avoid parking.