There are two main types of camping permitted at the Grand Canyon: camping in developed campgrounds where vehicles and campers are allowed; and backpacking and dispersed camping — which occurs outside developed campgrounds OR below the Rim the Canyon — which requires a Backcountry Permit. Permits are necessary for dispersed camping in the North Rim, South Rim, or Tuweep. Find rules, information on permits and how to reserve camp spot here.
Campgrounds within the Grand Canyon National Park are operated by the National Park Service within its guidelines, restrictions and camping fees. Outside the park campgrounds area also available in the surrounding Kaibab National Forest. If you wish to camp anywhere within the Grand Canyon National Park other than developed campgrounds on the rims, a Backcountry Permit is required from the Backcountry Information Center.
Atop the South Rim in busy Grand Canyon Village, within walking distance of Market Plaza, you'll find two developed (vehicles-permitted) campgrounds: Mather Campground offers over 300 camp and RV sites (no hookups) suitable for tents, trailers and small motorhomes; and Trailer Village - the only Grand Canyon RV campground with full hook-ups - a concessioner-operated RV park with full hook-ups. Reservations for Trailer Village are made through Xanterra Parks and Resorts.
Desert View Campground, also on the South Rim of the park but 26 miles to the east of Grand Canyon Village along Desert View Drive, is available on a no-reservation, first-come first-served basis. There are no RV hook-ups at Desert View.
Reservations can be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at http://www.recreation.gov/. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance. All campsites run $12 - $50 per night based on the site and the season.
Any Grand Canyon North Rim vacation will require an overnight, whether camping or lodging. The merits of choosing to make the trip to the North Rim are clear: far fewer crowds at the Rim and on trails; dramatic views distinct from those you'll get at the South Rim or West Rim; world-class hiking and backpacking and breathtaking scenery. When the sun goes down on your North Rim visit, the reasons to camp inside the National Park or just outside of the park boundaries atop the Kaibab Plateau are just as clear.
On top of the North Rim, you can tent and RV camp (no hookups, though there is a dump station) at the North Rim Campground inside the National Park. Outside of the park in the Kaibab National Forest, you'll find limited dispersed camping as well as campsites suitable for tents, trailers and small motor homes in US Forest Service's DeMotte Campground and Jacob Lake Campground. The USFS campgrounds do not have hook-ups and are available on a no-reservation, first-come first-served basis. The only campground with full RV hookups near the North Rim is Kaibab Camper Village. All campsites, in and outside of the National Park, run $6 - $50 per night based on the site and the season.
For first-time backpackers in Grand Canyon National Park, the most popular itinerary is to spend a few nights at either Bright Angel or Indian Garden Campground. The Bright Angel Campground can be accessed by either the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail (6.8 and 9.3 miles from the Rim, respectively); Indian Garden Campground is accessible from the Bright Angel Trail (4.6 miles from the Rim.) Both campgrounds have restrooms, treated drinking water, established campsites, individual food storage canisters (to thwart the critters), and are frequently staffed by helpful park rangers.
Below the North rim at Cottonwood Campground, with approved backcountry permit, the costs are $10 per permit plus $5 per person per night camped below the rim (2 maximum consecutive nights) and $5 per group per night camped above the rim.
Cottonwood Campground is a small campground 6.8 miles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. Bright Angel Creek nearby offers a cool and refreshing place to get wet. Seasonally (mid-May to mid-Oct) potable drinking water is available at the campground. During other times of the year you should be prepared to filter/treat water obtained from the creek. Cottonwood has an emergency phone and toilets. Day hike destinations include Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls, and Manzanita Canyon.
To camp below the rim at Bright Angel, Indian Garden or Cottonwood Campgrounds, you will need to apply for and obtain a Backcountry Permit from the National Park Service.
The Backcountry Office will issue your permit and reserve your campsite if available. Submit the permit request form in one of the following ways:
Havasu Canyon, home to the Havasupai Indians, is a paradise located in western Grand Canyon known worldwide for its towering waterfalls and beautifully sculpted rock. In this idyllic setting of lush side canyons and sun-splashed cliffs a small group of indigenous hunters and farmers arrived centuries ago and carved out a simple lifestyle; one that continues to this day.
Though many Supai tribal members continue to farm in this flood-prone drainage, tourism has emerged as the tribe's primary source of income. Fee-based camping is offered year round. In addition to backpackers, visitors arrive by helicopter and horseback, some staying in the tribe's rustic lodge. Camping in Havasu Canyon requires a permit and reservations that can be obtained directly from the tribe. DO NOT just show up, or you'll risk hiking 10 miles only to find you don't have a campsite, and if there does happen to be an available site, you'll be billed at twice the usual rate. For more information on visiting Havasu Canyon, visit www.havasupai-nsn.gov/tourism.html.
The per person entrance fee required of all visitors is $35 and must be paid at the Tourism Office upon arrival. Visitors are also required to pay a once-per-visit Environmental Fee of $5. Camping fees are $17 per person per night. Therefore, a two-night stay for one person would be $57 for the first night, $17 for the second, subtotaling $74 plus 10% tax, or $81.40.
For more details on Havasupai, check out our full guide to this aquamarine paradise here.