The Grand Canyon isn’t an alternative place by any stretch of the imagination; there were 6.25 million visitors in 2017 alone. But you shouldn’t let the crowds discourage you from going. The canyon spans 277 miles and dips as deep as 85 feet at some points meaning there’s plenty of canyon to go around for anyone who wants to see it.
The Grand Canyon is one of nature’s greatest feats and that is definitely worth seeing on a trip through the Southwest. But Grand Canyon camping on the South Rim or North Rim is far from a rock-up-and-see-what-happens kind of thing. You’ll need to make your bookings as far as 6-months out at more popular campsites in the Grand Canyon like Mather. Even the North Rim Campground gets crowded if you wait.
Finding booking your Grand Canyon campsites kind of tricky? Below you’ll find everything you need to know with detailed info on how to book campsites in the Grand Canyon, plus info on RV camping, backcountry camping, campsites outside of the park, and what to do if you wait until the last minute to book your Grand Canyon campsites.
Campsites inside Grand Canyon National Park
There are campsites on both the South Rim (the Arizona side) & North Rim (the Utah side) of Grand Canyon National Park. The NPS runs three campsites: North Rim Campground, Mather Campground, & Desert View Campground which vary in seasonality and booking requirements.
Mather Campground | South Rim
Located in the Grand Canyon Village one mile from the Canyon rim, Mather Campground is a year-around campsite with 327 campsites each including space for three tents, a parking space, and standard facilities access. This is where I stayed! The sites were nestled in a wooded area and comfortably private although close together. Stay on the outer loops for sites with more privacy. Sites from $6-$50 per night.
Take a look at the Mather campsite map below or download it here.
Desert View Campground | South Rim
The Desert View Campground is a smaller site on the Southeast side of the Grand Canyon that is open from mid-April and mid-October. There are 50 campsites and each site includes space for two tents, two cars, and access to flush toilets but no showers. Sites from $12.00 and advanced reservations aren’t possible. Show up before 12 pm for your best chance at getting a spot!
North Rim Campground | North Rim
Update for Summer 2020: “The North Rim Campground will be on a first-come, first-served basis from May 15, 2020 to August 31, 2020 due to a major waterline replacement project. Normal reservations will resume September 1, 2020 through the remainder of the 2020 season.”
Between mid-May and late October, you can camp out at the North Rim, the more rugged and secluded part of the Grand Canyon. Each site has space for three tents, two cars, and standard facilities access. This is your spot if you want to experience the more rugged side of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is supposed to be awesome, so if you’re looking for a more quiet experience during peak summer season, this is your spot. Sites from $18-$25 per night.
Backcountry Campsites | North Rim & South Rim
Backcountry campsites include Bright Angel Campground, Indian Garden Campground, and Cottonwood Campground inside of the park, all of which require a backcountry permit. Permits are required for all camping outside of Mather, Desert View, and North Rim, winter camping on the North Rim, off-river camping, and a couple other situations you’re probably unlikely to encounter. Bookings open 6-months in advance and they fill up fast. For more information on backcountry campsites in the Grand Canyon, take a look at the NPS Backcountry Hiking Brochure.
Campsites Outside of Grand Canyon National Park
If you find that the campsites within the park are booked out, or you simply want a quieter Grand Canyon camping experience, there are actually tons of alternative campsites outside of Grand Canyon National Park.
Ten-X Campground | South Rim
Ten-X is a well-maintained but basic campground made up of 70 sites located in Kaibab National Forest just 4-miles from the South Rim. You can book a site between May and mid-October. Sites from $10-$125 per night.
Dispersed Camping | South Rim
You can get away from the crowds when you wild camp, but you’ll want to read up on restrictions ahead of time. For example, you’re allowed to camp in national forest, but you must be outside of the park. It’s also required that you set up camp at least 0.25miles from Highway 64. Call (928) 638-2443 for the latest restrictions or more information.
Camping on American Indian Lands | South Rim
There are Havasupi, Navajo, and Hualapai Indian Reservations nearby. These campsites are generally more remote and require a tribal permit, but it’s a unique opportunity to camp on native lands. Visit the Havasupai, Navajo, and Hualapai websites for reservations and more information.
DeMott Campground | North Rim
DeMott is a very basic 30-site campground 7-miles from the Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim. As with most sites on the North Rim, it’s closed during winter and open mid-May through mid-October. Sites from $20 per night.
Jacob Lake Campground | North Rim
Jacob Lake is a 51-site campground that sits 44 miles north of the Grand Canyon North Rim. Its distance from the park makes it quieter than the other sites, but you’ll need your own car if you choose to camp here. Open only during the summer months. Sites from $20 per night, contact North Kaibab Ranger District (+1-928-643-7395) for more information.
Dispersed Camping | North Rim
Wild camping is also possible on the North Rim with a similar list of restrictions. You can get more information at the North Rim Visitor Center or contact the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center at Jacob Lake (+1-928-643-7298) or the Kaibab National Forest (+1-928-643-7395) for the latest restrictions or more information.