Want to take your outdoor experience to the next level? Join our newsletter to be the first to get the freshest tips, tools, and giveaways sent directly to you!
*Phantom Ranch Updates - for the most up-to-date information, please check the official Phantom Ranch Lodging page.
Out of all my trips to Grand Canyon National Park, staying for two nights at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch is hands-down the most rewarding and unique Grand Canyon experience as an adventure traveler!
Nestled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon by the Colorado River is the national park’s unique, historic oasis, Phantom Ranch! These rustic cabins (created in the 1920s) are the only lodging available below the Grand Canyon rim that visitors can make reservations to stay in overnight. This makes Phantom Ranch an adventure traveler’s top bucket list destination!
Staying overnight at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is the most intimate way to explore one of the most visited national parks in the US. In November 2023, I hiked the challenging 7.5 miles below the Grand Canyon south rim along the South Kaibab trail to spend an incredible 2 nights in Phantom Ranch. Although the hike to Phantom Ranch is tough, being able to stargaze the darkest skies below the rim, watch the roaming wildlife, and soak in the tranquility of the canyons after hours makes it all worth it.
Hiking to Phantom Ranch and staying below the Grand Canyon Rim is honestly one of the most memorable and unique adventures I’ve ever experienced!
In this ultimate Grand Canyon and Phantom Ranch travel guide, I’ll break down:
Phantom Ranch is open in 2023 and 2024 and is open year-round.
However, due to the closure of Bright Angel Trail from December 2023 to April 2024, hikers starting from the Grand Canyon south rim must take the South Kaibab Trail to get to Phantom Ranch.
Built in the 1920s, Phantom Ranch is Grand Canyon’s historic oasis for tourists to experience at the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. If you’re lucky enough to get a permit or reservation at Phantom Ranch, you can stay overnight in one of the rustic cabins and stargaze in some of the darkest skies in the USA (did you know Grand Canyon is an International Dark Skies Park?!) You’ll also be able to buy souvenirs and enjoy snacks, refreshments, and the famous beef stew and steak dinners at the Phantom Ranch Canteen.
Staying overnight at Phantom Ranch means you can experience the magic of the Grand Canyon below the rim after all the hikers, backpackers, and other visitors are gone for the day. You can sit quietly and watch the wildlife or relax by the Colorado River and enjoy a Grand Canyon sunset! But my favorite thing to do at Phantom Ranch was to lie on my back below the vibrant Milky Way and gaze at some of the brightest stars I’ve ever seen.
Phantom Ranch is Grand Canyon’s must-do experience if you’re looking for an adventure of a lifetime.
Yes - advanced reservations are required to stay at Phantom Ranch. Check out my in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to get reservations to stay at Phantom Ranch.
Phantom Ranch is located at the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, along the majestic Colorado River. Although you can camp at one of the campgrounds at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch is the only lodging below the Grand Canyon rim that visitors can reserve to stay overnight.
Visitors can get to Phantom Ranch either by
Hiking below the Grand Canyon rim to Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon is challenging and requires some preparation, but is the most rewarding and once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Out of the 5 million annual visitors to Grand Canyon National Park, 5% hike below the rim and only 1% of hikers make it to the bottom of the canyon! Hiking to Phantom Ranch is the most intimate way to explore Grand Canyon National Park. Escaping the crowds by hiking below the rim means you’ll be able to indulge in the pure beauty and magic of the Grand Canyon without distractions.
For a detailed guide on how to hike to Phantom Ranch, check out my post “How to Hike to Phantom Ranch - The Best Adventure in Grand Canyon National Park”.
To hike to Phantom Ranch (INSERT LINK), you can start the hike from either Grand Canyon’s south rim or north rim.
During our visit to Phantom Ranch in November 2023, we started our hike down to Phantom Ranch along the South Kaibab trail. The views of the canyon are unreal the entire way to the bottom and you’ll feel like you’re on another planet! And as we got closer to Phantom Ranch, we were able to hike with views of the emerald Colorado River! The hike to Phantom Ranch along the South Kaibab trail took us about 5 hours, hiking at a steady pace and taking a 45-minute lunch break at Tip-Off Point.
*Pro tip: Make sure to bring enough water since there is no drinking water along the South Kaibab trail.
On the day we left Phantom Ranch, we hiked up and out of the canyon back to the south rim along Bright Angel trail. Although the hike to Phantom Ranch was challenging, the hike OUT of Phantom Ranch on Bright Angel trail was even more strenuous due to the steep elevation gain! The 10-mile hike up Bright Angel trail to the south rim took us 7 hours. Although there are drinking water sources along Bright Angel trail, make sure to check the seasonal drinking water closures before you hike to make sure you know where you can refill your water.
If you’ve got it on your bucket list to stay at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but cannot or do not want to hike, you can get to Phantom Ranch by mule! You can book a mule trip with a one or two-night stay at Phantom Ranch through Xanterra Travel Collection. Below is how much does it cost to take a mule to Phantom Ranch:
For a 1-night stay in Phantom Ranch
For a 2-night stay in Phantom Ranch
Booking a mule ride to Phantom Ranch would be worth the money if you:
Phantom Ranch has a variety of cabin sizes that can accommodate anywhere from 2-10 guests to stay overnight at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Each cabin is equipped with bunk beds, a private sink and bathroom, and a heater/AC unit for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.
Each cabin is provided with:
If you’re staying overnight in Phantom Ranch, you DO NOT need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, or towels!
Before my trip in November 2023, 2 male and 2 female dormitories used to be available only for hikers. However, national park staff mentioned that these dormitories are now closed to hikers. Instead, these Phantom Ranch dormitories have been converted for national park staff accommodations and are no longer available for visitors to stay in overnight.
Yes! You can shower at Phantom Ranch. There are two centralized shower houses, one for women and one for men, that are available only to Phantom Ranch guests. When you check in to Phantom Ranch, each guest will receive a key to the shower house.
This means that anybody camping at Bright Angel Campground (or anywhere at the bottom of the Grand Canyon) is not allowed to use these showers (sorry!).
Drinking water is available at Phantom Ranch! You’ll find Grand Canyon hikers, trail runners, and other visitors filling up their water bottles and hydration bladders at the Phantom Ranch water refill station.
Although you do not need to treat the water before drinking it, I still packed water treatment drops in case Grand Canyon’s water was ever contaminated. Just a few months before I hiked to Phantom Ranch, the water supply was contaminated with E. Coli! Grand Canyon National Park is the last place you want to hike and risk NOT having drinking water available.
Inside the Phantom Ranch cabins, the sinks are supplied with cold water. However, you’ll be able to enjoy hot showers in the centralized shower houses.
Even though you’re at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the middle of nature, you can still buy food at the Phantom Ranch Canteen! Visitors and hikers can enjoy beverages and snacks, buy Grand Canyon souvenirs, and even stock up on any emergency supplies (Band-Aids, blister moleskin, tampons, etc.). If you’re hiking the Grand Canyon on a hot day, nothing feels more refreshing than some cold lemonade from the Phantom Ranch Canteen! It’s not the best lemonade ever, but it’s refreshing. Make sure to save your cup because lemonade and iced tea refills are only $1.
When I hiked to Phantom Ranch in November 2023, here’s the list of prices of the snacks, refreshments, and souvenirs from the canteen:
But did you know that you can also reserve breakfasts and dinners to eat at Phantom Ranch? The highlight of my trip to Phantom Ranch was enjoying both the steak and beef stew dinners in the canteen’s dining hall each night. Dinners are served family-style across long tables, giving you a chance to share a warm meal and get to know the other hikers, campers, and visitors experiencing the magic of the Grand Canyon with you!
A weekend trip to Phantom Ranch is still one of the more expensive outdoor adventures I’ve paid for, but it’s worth the experience…so much so that I would do it again!
To hike to and spend 3 days and 2 nights at Phantom Ranch in November 2023, our group of 4 spent a total of $1,013.46 ($253.37/person). Here’s the breakdown of the Phantom Ranch prices we paid (including taxes):
In the sections below, I’ll break down the different costs you can expect to pay to visit Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon National Park.
Cabins at Phantom Ranch can accommodate anywhere from 2-10 people. However, prices for Phantom Ranch cabins are based on double occupancy, where you can pay for additional guests. Here’s how much it costs to reserve a cabin at Phantom Ranch:
Our group of 4 paid a total of $532.36 (including tax) for 2 nights in Phantom Ranch.
Hikers and visitors can reserve warm breakfasts, sack lunches, and family-style dinners to enjoy at the Phantom Ranch Canteen. Although the meals are pricey, I highly recommend experiencing at least one dinner at Phantom Ranch.
Both the steak and beef stew dinners at Phantom Ranch were incredibly delicious (and I’m not that much of a steak lady!). Each dinner was served with salad, cornbread, and dessert. I’m not sure what they put in those brownies each night, but they were DIVINE.
Below are prices for the meals you can reserve at Phantom Ranch.
Prices of meals, snacks, and beverages from the Phantom Ranch Canteen may seem expensive, but all food, supplies, and gear are carried in by mule from the top of the Grand Canyon.
Don’t forget to make reservations for your breakfast and dinners at Phantom Ranch in advance. To reserve your meals, make sure you select which meals you want for each day of your stay at Phantom Ranch when you make your overnight reservations.
Because Phantom Ranch is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, all visitors will also need to pay the national park’s entrance fee:
Grand Canyon National Park accepts the America the Beautiful annual national park pass!
You need to make reservations to stay at Phantom Ranch 15 months in advance!
Because Phantom Ranch is on every adventure traveler’s bucket list, demand is EXTREMELY high, and getting a reservation is incredibly difficult. It takes persistence and luck to be able to get a reservation for Phantom Ranch. Here’s how to make a reservation to stay at Phantom Ranch:
For a detailed guide on how enter the Phantom Ranch lottery and get reservation, check out my post "How to Get a Reservation at Phantom Ranch, the Grand Canyon’s Most Epic Travel Destination". In this guide, I'll share:
Because it takes about 4-5 hours to hike down to Phantom Ranch and 6-10 hours to hike out of the canyon, 1 night in Phantom Ranch is not enough. To truly enjoy the magic of Phantom Ranch and life below the Grand Canyon rim, you need at least 2 nights in Phantom Ranch. Hikers can even make reservations to stay at Phantom Ranch for up to 4 nights.
WHAT TO DO AT PHANTOM: Spend your second day after you arrive at Phantom Ranch relaxing at Boat Beach, people-watching by the picnic area near the canteen, or exploring nearby trails!
The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is spring, fall, and winter when canyon temperatures are safe for hiking below the rim. However, I highly recommend hiking to Phantom Ranch in the fall (September - November), when there are fewer crowds and the temperature is cooler.
I hiked to Phantom Ranch in early November of 2023 and truly loved the experience. Although I’ve hiked several times to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in various months in winter, spring, and fall, November has been the best time to hike in the Grand Canyon. There were moments during my hike when I was completely alone on the trail and got to enjoy the serenity all to myself!
Hiking along the South Kaibab trail and Bright Angel trail in November, I experienced day temperatures from the low 40F (at the top of the south rim), to the low 90F at the bottom of the canyon. Night-time temperatures at Phantom Ranch in November were in the mid-40F, which was comfortable for sleeping and stargazing below the rim.
Another bonus of hiking to Phantom Ranch in November is the golden leaves and other fall foliage making an appearance!
Before we hiked down to Phantom Ranch, we stayed overnight along the south rim. Typically, I’d camp at Mather Campground, but since nighttime temperatures were close to freezing in November, our group of 4 opted to stay in Maswik Lodge on the south rim for $185/night (including taxes and fees).
For a detailed list of places to stay inside or near Grand Canyon National Park, check out my Ultimate Grand Canyon South Rim Travel Guide.
Hiking to and staying at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is one of the most rewarding experiences and best ways to explore one of the top visited national parks in the USA. From hiking below the Grand Canyon rim to stargazing under the darkest skies at the bottom of the canyon, staying at this Grand Canyon oasis is one of my favorite and most unique adventures of my life! Although the hike to Phantom Ranch and getting a reservation to stay overnight is challenging, the experience is worth it. This step-by-step guide on how to stay at Phantom Ranch will help you plan your Grand Canyon bucket list adventure of a lifetime!
*This post contains affiliate links for products that I have used myself and genuinely love. All opinions expressed are honest and mine. If you make a purchase through any of these affiliate links, I receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you. Since The Adventure Diet is reader-supported, any purchases you make will support running this blog at now cost to you! As always, thank you for your never-ending support.
Join The Adventure Diet newsletter for your chance to win a REI Flash 18 Daypack! Open to residents of the contiguous U.S. 18+. Giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on 6/6/21. No purchase necessary.
*The winner will be contacted directly by email on 6/7/21. This give away not sponsored...it's simply a gift from me to you, because I have the best supporters!