The Grand Canyon is on almost every traveler's bucket list. Indeed, Theodore Roosevelt called it "the one great sight which every American should see." The Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails offer stunning views, but if hiking's not your cup of tea, rent a bicycle or take a scenic drive through the park.
Things to do in Grand Canyon National Park
3.5 based on 4068 reviews
This was our first stay in the park itself at the Grand Canyon. Previously had stayed 12 minutes south in Tusayan. All of the lodging in the area is overpriced, but in comparison the Yavapai Lodge was not unreasonable. Built in the late 1950s, the rooms are motel-like, and although may have been updated at some point, still feel "old". The staff (seemingly all international and young) were very friendly, and the lodge is very convenient to dining, the general store, and (most importantly) the shuttle system. We liked staying in the park, but may need to explore Bright Angel Lodge and the El Tovar Hotel before returning to Yavapai Lodge again.
4 based on 3023 reviews
Bright Angel Lodge, designed in 1935 by famed Southwest architect Mary E.J. Colter, has a natural rustic character and is a Registered National Historic Landmark. This iconic lodge and its surrounding cabins are rich with cultural history. Under the direction of the Santa Fe Railroad, Colter was tasked to design a fresh look for Bright Angel Lodge in an effort to provide more moderately priced lodging in contrast to El Tovar “up the hill.” She drew inspirations from many local sources in her architecture. Today, the Bright Angel Lodge and surrounding cabins serves as an iconic remembrance of its colorful past. Located at the top of Bright Angel Trail Head, the facility sees visitors from all around the world. Bright Angel Lodge also features The Harvey House Café, a family-friendly restaurant serving diner classics prepared in the Fred Harvey tradition from biscuits & gravy to gourmet burgers and fajitas. The Harvey House is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
We had a partial rim view cabin for 2 nights, and I can’t say enough good things about the room. Clean. Good size. Partial view is accurate from the room but you are literally steps from the rim trail. Early morning and after 5, the crowds thinned and it’s almost like you had the Canyon to yourself. If you’re planning a trip, I’d encourage you to stalk the Xanterra website. We were able to get a room probably 2-3 months before our trip. There are a lot of people who have to cancel and the website tracks that in real time. Totally worth it to stay inside the park and not have to drive in.
4 based on 3731 reviews
This celebrated historic hotel located directly on the rim of the Grand Canyon first opened its doors in 1905. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. The Chicago architect envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa. This was done in an effort to appeal to the tastes of the elite from that era, who at the time considered European culture the epitome of refinement. El Tovar was one of a chain of hotels and restaurants owned and operated by the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railway. The hotel was built from local limestone and Oregon pine. It cost $250,000 to build, and many considered it the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. In 1987 the Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark. In the past, the hotel has hosted such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey.
It is lovely and we are glad we stayed there. But there are a few considerations before you make your reservation: 1) No elevators. We had reserved a "street level" room - and it was not what we expected. Truly more of a basement room a full flight of stairs down from the lobby with a window overlooking employee parking. I would recommend asking for a room with a view of the canyon and then requesting valet service to carry your bags up to your room! Well worth what we spent to tip the baggage helper even for our one flight of stairs. 2) Two-minute showers. Yes, you read that right. The hotel asks (but does not enforce!) that guests take showers lasting no more than 2 minutes to conserve the valuable resource of water in this desert location. We tried - but probably never achieved that two minute mark. 3) Plan ahead for meals. The breakfasts at El Tovar were outstanding. We did not reserve ahead for a dinner and so had to scramble to find other places to eat. Many of the dining choices were either fully closed or open for limited hours (11 am - 3 pm seemed typical) - so try to have a big mid-day meal and perhaps just sandwiches in your room or on the porch for supper. Our one truly negative experience at El Tovar was when we tried to eat the advertised pulled pork sandwich meal at the bar area. We waited a full 20 minutes with no one ahead in line before we were seated at one of several empty tables. We waited another 15 minutes seated at the table and were never able to even speak to a server. We finally left and asked for a takeout order of pie from the main restaurant, but missed sunset due to the delays in getting something to eat. 4) Since our room had no canyon view, we wished we had made reservations at a different lodge - none of them seem to be a long walk to the canyon so don't make lodging on the canyon edge a huge priority.
4 based on 1190 reviews
Kachina Lodge sits directly on the rim of Grand Canyon. For guests seeking a more contemporary lodging option, Kachina lodge is a great choice. The guest rooms have a comfortable modern ambiance and are all similar in size and amenities. The lodge rooms are designated canyon-side and street-side related to the view. Many guests choose Kachina due to its prominent location in the center of the historic district. Kachina Lodge is also walking distance to restaurants, gifts shops, Kolb Studio, Verkamp’s Visitor Center, and Bright Angel Trail Head. Please Note: Guests staying at the Kachina Lodge will need to check-in at the El Tovar Front Desk. Situated directly on the canyon rim, many of the rooms at Kachina Lodge have partial canyon views available, called canyon-side rooms. The rooms have either one king bed or two queen beds. Guest room amenities include full bath, in-room Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator, flat screen television with satellite TV, telephone, hairdryer and safe.
Upon arrival, I will admit I didn't expect much. When you have a hotel right on the rim of the grand canyon, you don't need much in order to attract patrons-they will come regardless. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the state of the hotel and rooms. The bathrooms had bottles of shampoo/conditioner/lotion/body wash, there was a coffee pot and television and fridge, and the beds were fairly comfortable. We did find out that we had a little lizard in our room that must've snuck in during a cleaning, but he didn't bother us and we didn't bother him. Keep in mind, though, while there is a fridge, there is no microwave. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with our stay here, especially considering the hotel could literally be a shack with a bed roll and it would still be booked up every night.
4 based on 1008 reviews
Contemporary style blended with natural touches make Thunderbird Lodge an ideal accommodation choice at the south rim of the canyon. Family-focused, the lodge has ample amenities to make for a memorable stay in the heart of the Historic District. Many of the comfortable, modern rooms offer canyon views while others overlook Historic Village streets. Thunderbird Lodge is walking distance to restaurants, gift shops, Kolb Studio, Verkamp’s Visitor Center and Bright Angel Trail Head. Please Note: Guests staying at Thunderbird Lodge will need to check-in at the Bright Angel Lodge Front Desk. Situated directly on the canyon rim, many of the rooms at Thunderbird Lodge have partial canyon views available, called canyon-side rooms. The rooms have either one king bed or two queen beds. Guest room amenities include a full bath, in-room Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator, flat screen television with satellite TV, telephone, hair dryer, and safe.
First of all perfect location on the south rim, amazing views, decent rooms etc. BUT we were disappointed with our customer service experience! After a six hour journey and struggle to actually find the Lodge which we found was not well sign posted, then hassle with finding a spare parking space, we arrived at the Bright Angel Lodge to check-in, at a few minutes to 15:00 and were told by the person at reception that our room was not ready so I asked how long it would be, the response was that it should be ready within the hour but can take up until five o’clock. I replied that our booking confirmation stated check-in is at three o’clock …. the abrupt response back to me was “well this is NPS and that’s how we do it!” - I found this quite rude and unprofessional, however I decided to let this slip to avoid antagonising this person and risk even further delay. I provided my phone number and waited for the call - which thankfully came 30 minutes later. I’ve never been spoken to in this manor by hotel reception staff and suggest that customer facing staff are educated/trained in hospitality/customer service. Hospitality staff should not speak to customers this way, ever! Regarding this matter, if I am paying $363 for ONE night, not only do I object to this poor level of customer service I also expect my room to be ready at the stated check-in time or compensated accordingly! I am pretty sure if I stayed in the room for an extra 30 - 60 mins past checkout, I would be charged for it?? Double standards and It’s just not good enough. Things were no better at the Fred Harvey Tavern in the Bright Angel Lodge, we queued and requested a table for two and were advised there’s a wait time of 45 minutes. So we provided our phone number and walked straight into the bar for a drink whilst we waited. Only to be promptly ejected a couple of minutes later as the bar is also for restaurant service only, even though there were empty tables. What?…Seriously! No one bothered to mention this to us even though we’d literally just reserved a table. Only the 6 bar stools are for the open bar. When we got our text 50 minutes later we then had to queue up AGAIN for our table as there was only one person dealing with new customers and those of us who’d been allocated a table via text message - what a complete shambles!! Once seated the service and food was much better than I expected. Ironically we ended up sat in the bar from where we’d been asked to leave one hour earlier As a foreign traveller to the USA, I do not intend to stay at any hotel again that is operated by Xanterra/NPS and I do not recommend it - understaffed, completely overpriced due to having a monopoly (and no competition) and because of its proximity to the canyon, they charge premium rates because they can but in my opinion offer a below par customer experience! To me it appears that customer satisfaction is not very high on the list of this hotel and organisation. Dreadful attitude to customers!
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