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Insider’s Guide to Grand Canyon Lodges

Insider’s Guide to Grand Canyon Lodges

Written by: , October 28th, 2018

Six choices from historic hotels to rustic cabins.

Overnight guests at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim have a wealth of options on where to lay their heads. And while the lodgings differ in ambiance and historical significance, they share a key attribute: a front-row seat at one of the world’s great wonders.

Check out this primer on five rim-adjacent lodges, as well as Phantom Ranch located at the canyon’s floor, to determine which one suits you best.

El Tovar

What it offers: The grand dame of Grand Canyon hotels is also one of the great national park lodges. Opened in 1905, this limestone and pine beauty boasts a historic pedigree as an early hotel run by pioneering Western hospitality purveyor, the Fred Harvey Co. Due to renovations over the years including adding private baths to all rooms, each of its 78 rooms (including 12 suites) is unique. Among famous guests: Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, and Paul McCartney. McCartney was plunking out a tune on the hotel’s mezzanine piano one night, causing a guest in a nearby room (oblivious to the source of the music) to complain. A front desk clerk went up and asked Sir Paul to stop.

Standout feature: Its striking Swiss chalet-style design. Even if you’re not staying here, enjoy a meal in the elegant dining room, relax on its expansive porch, or spend some time in the splendid main lobby.

Best for: couples and architecture fans with a taste for deluxe digs

Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins

What it offers: A favorite of repeat visitors, this rustic hotel built in 1935 was designed by renowned architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Its 90 lodging units include the canyon’s most economical rooms (with shared bath), and historic cabins, some with canyon views.

Standout feature: Colter’s floor-to-ceiling “geologic” fireplace in the Bright Angel History Room whose rocks echo the layers of the canyon itself. The mini museum also boasts a display of colorful artifacts and photos from the early days of tourism.

Best for: History buffs

Kachina & Thunderbird Lodges

What they offer: These circa late-1960s lodgings have a total of 104 contemporary-style guest rooms that have undergone extensive renovations in recent years. The side-by-side buildings mirror each other and offer some coveted canyon-side rooms.

Standout feature: Location. Set between El Tovar Lodge and the Bright Angel Trailhead, the lodgings are just off the rim trail, which winds through the South Rim Historic Village and beyond.

Best for: Active travelers seeking convenient access to South Rim facilities and hiking trails

Maswik Lodge

What it offers: The most economical of South Rim lodging options is an easy quarter-mile stroll from the canyon’s edge in a forest of ponderosa pines.

Standout feature: Its main lodge building features a large food court with lots of family-friendly options, including a pizza restaurant.

Best for: families and budget-minded travelers

Phantom Ranch

What it offers: Tucked almost 5,000 feet below the South Rim, facilities consist of historic stone-and-wood guest cabins that accommodate from two to 10 visitors, plus four gender-segregated dormitories with five beds each. The Phantom Ranch Canteen serves hearty breakfasts and dinners.

Standout feature: Its pristine and remote location is accessible only by mule back, by foot, or via Colorado River raft.

Best for: adventure seekers and hikers

How to Explore

Grand Canyon National Park Lodges provides the premier in-park lodging, managing six distinctly different lodges. From the El Tovar hotel, long considered the crown jewel of national park hotels, to Phantom Ranch, the only lodging on the floor of the canyon, you’ll find accommodations to help you get the most out of your visit to the Grand Canyon. You can also book rafting, railway, and motorcoach tours. For more information and reservations, visit or call 888-297-2757.

Or consider the 10-day “Bryce, Zion & the Grand Canyon” tour from Holiday Vacations, one of America’s most reputable tour companies with more than 44 years of experience. As a nationwide provider of air, rail, motorcoach and cruise guided vacations to more than 65 destinations worldwide, their packages are inclusive of all airfare, fine hotels, meals and must-see attractions. Expert tour directors handle all travel details, assuring you a carefree and memorable vacation. Visit for more information.

For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and its affiliated properties, visit