For first-time backpackers in Grand Canyon National Park, the most popular itinerary is to spend a few nights at either Bright Angel or Indian Garden Campground. The Bright Angel Campground can be accessed by either the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail (6.8 and 9.3 miles from the Rim, respectively); Indian Garden Campground is accessible from the Bright Angel Trail (4.6 miles from the Rim.) Both campgrounds have restrooms, treated drinking water, established campsites, individual food storage canisters (to thwart the critters), and are frequently staffed by helpful park rangers.
Atop the South Rim in busy Grand Canyon Village, within walking distance of Market Plaza, you'll find two developed (vehicles-permitted) campgrounds: Mather Campground offers over 300 camp and RV sites (no hookups) suitable for tents, trailers and small motorhomes; and Trailer Village - the only Grand Canyon RV campground with full hook-ups - a concessioner-operated RV park with full hook-ups. Reservations for Trailer Village are made through Xanterra Parks and Resorts.
Desert View Campground, also on the South Rim of the park but 25 miles to the east of Grand Canyon Village along Desert View Drive, is available on a no-reservation, first-come first-served basis. There are no RV hook-ups at Desert View.
Any Grand Canyon North Rim vacation will require an overnight, whether camping or lodging. The merits of choosing to make the trip to the North Rim are clear: far fewer crowds at the Rim and on trails; dramatic views distinct from those you'll get at the South Rim or West Rim; world-class hiking and backpacking and breathtaking scenery. When the sun goes down on your North Rim visit, the reasons to camp inside the National Park or just outside of the park boundaries atop the Kaibab Plateau are just as clear.
Below the rim at Cottonwood Campground, with approved backcountry permit, the costs are $10 per permit plus $5 per person per night camped below the rim (2 maximum consecutive nights) and $5 per group per night camped above the rim.
Cottonwood Campground is a small campground 6.8 miles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. Bright Angel Creek nearby offers a cool and refreshing place to get wet. Seasonally (mid-May to mid-Oct) potable drinking water is available at the campground. During other times of the year you should be prepared to filter/treat water obtained from the creek. Cottonwood has an emergency phone and toilets. Day hike destinations include Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls, and Manzanita Canyon.
On top of the North Rim, you can tent and RV camp (no hookups, though there is a dump station) at the North Rim Campground inside the National Park. Outside of the park in the Kaibab National Forest, you'll find limited dispersed camping as well as campsites suitable for tents, trailers and small motor homes in US Forest Service's DeMotte Campground and Jacob Lake Campground. The USFS campgrounds do not have hook-ups and are available on a no-reservation, first-come first-served basis. All campsites, in and outside of the National Park, run $6 - $50 per night based on the site and the season.
Havasu Canyon, home to the Havasupai Indians, is a paradise located in western Grand Canyon known worldwide for its towering waterfalls and beautifully sculpted rock. In this idyllic setting of lush side canyons and sun-splashed cliffs a small group of indigenous hunters and farmers arrived centuries ago and carved out a simple lifestyle; one that continues to this day.
Havasu Creek, the carver of this serpentine side canyon beneath the South Rim, is fed by a deep aquifer. The perennial desert stream tumbles over several major waterfalls on its journey to the Colorado River on the floor of the Grand Canyon. The presence of calcium carbonate in the highly mineralized, spring-fed water gives Havasu Creek its distinctive blue-green color. This same robust creek sustains a rich riparian ecosystem that is home to a wide variety of plants, birds, and animals.
Though many Supai tribal members continue to farm in this flood-prone drainage, tourism has emerged as the tribe's primary source of income. Fee-based camping is offered year round. Camping in Havasu Canyon requires an permit that can be obtained directly from the tribe. For more information on visiting Havasu Canyon, visit http://www.havasupaitribe.com.
To camp below the rim (at Bright Angel or Indian Garden Campgrounds), you will need to apply for and obtain a Backcountry Permit from the National Park Service. Click here for Backcountry info and required forms.
The Backcountry Office will issue your permit and reserve your campsite if available. Submit the permit request form in one of the following ways: