3 enjoyable campgrounds await you at Grand Canyon National Park!
In the slideshow above, you're viewing pictures of the Grand Canyon, the visitor's center, and the Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon NP in Arizona. If you're thinking of planning a campout at this spectacular national park, the photos and info on this park can help you refine your vacation plans.
The Grand Canyon National Park offers visitors a chance to stay at 3 different developed campgrounds. Two of these are open year-round, and are centrally located to the park's main attractions and services. The third campground is in the eastern section of the park (along the Rim Drive) and is only open seasonally in the summer months.
In the Google Custom Map of the Grand Canyon above, you can see the relationship of the park's two year-round campgrounds...the Mather Campground and the Trailer Village RV Park...to important services. These two camping areas are located side-by-side, and both are just down the street from Market Village. At Market Village, you'll find a restaurant, gift shop, bank, post office, and large general store where you may pick up a wide variety of supplies. (Note: a separate map farther down this page shows the details of the Grand Canyon's 3rd developed campground, called the Desert View camp.)
Shuttle buses are available, or you may walk along paved trails to reach Market Village. Of course, there's a large parking lot, and you may also drive.
The Grand Canyon's main visitor & information center is a bit farther away, and so are spectacular views of the canyon itself. Shuttles connect the two main campgrounds with these attractions, as well. On the rest of this page, you'll discover the campground details you'll need for plan an enjoyable and relaxing vacation in the Grand Canyon National Park's camping areas.
Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon National Park
The Mather Campground is the Grand Canyon National Park's largest and busiest camping area. Mather offers over 338 campsites accommodating tents, vans, pop-ups, and small RV's.
Majestic pines tower over many of the campsites at Mather, providing a cozy sense of being nestled in a forest glade. And yet, other sites offer fewer trees and a greater feeling of openness. For a large and popular campground which is often filled to capacity during the busy season, Mather's camping spaces do a commendable job of providing families with a memorable and somewhat back-to-nature camping experience...while still being just down the street from stores and restaurants in the park.
Handicap access is provided to help everyone be able to enjoy the great outdoors, including paved nature trails that facilitate hiking with wheelchairs and strollers, and also wheelchair-accessible bathroom stalls. A few special wheelchair-accessible picnic tables are available; you can see what one of these tables looks like in the slide show at the top of the page.
Mather Campground amenities
As you might expect, the large Mather Campground has a number of different camping loops. Each loop is named after a different type of tree. All are nice, and the spaces themselves are nearly identical in each one. However, the scenery in each campground does vary a little, with the tallest pines located closer to the front entrance of the campground, and the shorter trees located towards the rear. (In addition, be wary of the vary last camping rows at the rear of Mather Campground; they're adjacent to a busy park road.)
Most of the pictures in the slide show (above) were taken in the Aspen Loop, where the beautiful tree-enshrouded sites beckoned our family to stay. Of course, everyone's idea of the perfect campsite is different. Camping sites were filled up just about equally in every loop (including camping spaces close to the roadways) the day we visited...even though the campground was only about 2/3-full.
The Mather Campground facilities include:
Paved interior roadways (although the roads are narrower than at most campgrounds)
Campsites with generous tent space; fire rings with grate; and picnic tables (some of which are quite warped, though still usable)
Clean bathroom buildings with flush toilets & sinks with cold running water
Water, trash and recycle bins at intervals throughout the campground
Shower and laundry building at the front of the campground to be shared by all camping loops, as well as by people staying in the adjacent Trailer Village RV Park.
An outdoor theater with log benches may offer ranger talks on selected nights
Park Shuttle bus stop at the front of the campground
General store, gift shop, bank and restaurant several blocks away. Paved trails lead to this area if you'd rather walk than drive.
NO RV hookups are available in the Mather Campground. There is no pool, spa, children's playground nor recreation building.
Mather Campground fees and reservations
The Grand Canyon's Mather Campground is open year-round. You may make reservations during the spring, summer and fall--the times of the year when the park is the busiest. Reservations are not needed...nor accepted...during the winter months.
Should you make reservations? During the summertime, the answer is a firm "yes." The Mather Campground is popular; it fills up to capacity nearly every night during the summer vacation season. However, during the spring and fall, you may not need reservations. Making reservations can take away from the spontaneity of your trip; you may not get to linger at other attractions you enjoy on your road trip to the Grand Canyon if you're locked into a reservation. The call is up to you. Obviously, before reaching your decision, you'll want to check how fast the camping reservations are being snatched up at the reservations website. If there aren't many spots left available, then reserving one of them becomes your only option at that point.
Camping reservations may be made online at the Recreation.gov website. In the Mather Campground section of the site, you can view an interactive map of the campground, and see the location of every space within each loop. You can also see a listing of spaces available (and spaces that are already reserved) for the date that you select. (On the reservations list, sites marked with an "A" means that they're available to reserve. "R" means that a site is already reserved; and "X" means that reservations are not being taken. When you find an X marking the spot, there will generally be a note as to WHY reservations aren't being accepted. The two most common reasons are that it's off-season and spots are being allotted on a first-come-first-served basis, or that construction & repairs have temporarily closed that section of the campground.)
Mather's campsite fees are currently $18 per night at the time of this update in Summer, 2013. There is a small extra fee for making, changing or cancelling reservations.
Make your camping reservations: Here's a link to the Mather Campground section of the Recreation.gov site. If you'd rather call, you may ask questions and make your reservations by dialing 1-877-444-6777.
Trailer Village RV Park at the Grand Canyon
In the slideshow above, you're viewing pictures of the Trailer Village RV Park in the Grand Canyon National Park, along with nearby stores and restaurants.
The Trailer Village RV Park is the only campground with hookups inside of the park's boundaries. (Other camping grounds with hookups can be found outside the park at Tusayan, Valle, Williams and Flagstaff if Trailer Village is full when you arrive.) There are only 80 RV spaces at Trailer Village...so the chances of the facility being full is a distinct possibility.
The Mather Campground (discussed above) DOES accept RV's, if you should arrive to find that Trailer Village doesn't have room for your rig. However, Mather does NOT have hookups...and what's more, there's a 30-foot limit for RV's in that park. So basically, if your motorhome is larger than that, then Trailer Village is the campground you must choose.
Trailer Village Amenities
The Mather Campground is more beautiful, while Trailer Village offers more convenience. Many feel like, "What's the point of having a stove, refrigerator and restroom in your RV if you don't use them?"
Features of the Trailer Village RV Park include the following:
Both paved and unpaved interior roads
Camping spaces are laid out parking-lot style in neat, efficient rows. Many spaces have no shade.
50-foot long spaces; Pull-through convenience
Each site has a picnic table and grill
Hookups include water, sewer and electrical (30 amp)...plus cable TV
RV dump available
Shuttle bus stop at front of park
May use shower & laundry facilities at the Mather Campground
Shopping and restaurants within walking distance
Trailer Village Camping Fees and Reservations
The Trailer Village camping fee is $35 per night at the time of this update.
Trailer Village is operated by the Xanterra company, a concessionaire which runs the hotel, camping and food services at a number of parks. Therefore, you cannot make your reservations through the Recreation.gov website (which is how you would make them if you'd be staying in the Mather Campground next door. Why is there a difference? Because Mather is operated by the park itself.)
Instead, you'll need to make your reservations with Xanterra directly. You may do this via a form on their website. If you fill in the date of your arrival, they'll let you know if space is available that day.
The Grand Canyon National Park's Desert View campground is located near the park's eastern entrance. Visitors who enjoy being away from crowds will enjoy Desert View, which is located 26 miles away from the main park visitor's center and most popular canyon viewing points.
The Desert View campground operates seasonally between mid-May and mid-October. This is when the national park is most crowded and spaces in the Mather Campground and Trailer Village can be difficult to obtain. Although the Desert View campground does fill up to capacity, you're more apt to find a last-minute camping space here.
The Desert View campground does NOT take reservations. There are 50 campsites at Desert View. Both tents as well as RV's are welcomed, but no hookups are available. RV's must be under 30 feet in length.
Campground amenities include: picnic table and fire ring; restrooms with running water and flush toilets; nearby store, cafe and gas station; ranger talks on selected nights. Showers are not available, but Desert View guests are welcome to use the showers at the Mather Campground in the center of the park.