It was holiday time in Arizona and the weather had turned unseasonably warm in the high country. We had four days off, no guests arriving until New Year’s, and we were determined to use the time to explore Arizona. We thought about a stay at a golf resort in Prescott or traveling to Sedona for a Pink Jeep Tour, but once we found out that there were rooms available at the Grand Canyon South Rim, our minds were made up.
Making Your Reservation
The Grand Canyon's North Rim is open from mid-May to mid-October, so for your winter holiday you will be staying at the South Rim. I recommend using the Xanterra online reservation service as you can immediately find out which lodges have openings and, with a credit card, make your reservation before someone else takes that room. Please note that you will be billed for the first night's stay. You can also reach the reservation service by calling 888-297-2757. There are a variety of facilities ranging from "classic lodge" to "historic cabin." Prices range from $55 to $291 per night (subject to change). There is no youth hostel in Grand Canyon National Park. Be sure to make reservations as far ahead as possible.
Lodging choices are:
- Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins: The Bright Angel complex consists of tightly clustered buildings along the rim. In the 1930's, the Fred Harvey Co. needed to develop affordable lodging for the many visitors who had begun driving to the canyon. Mary E. Jane Colter, designed both the lodge and the cabins. The cabins were built around several historic buildings. There are clean, simple rooms in two long buildings adjacent to Bright Angel Lodge. These are the least expensive in the park. Moving on up, others are appointed like standard motel rooms, with showers instead of tubs. Our choice is always a historic cabin. Rooms in the historic cabins cost only about $10 more than the most expensive lodge rooms and you can get a feel of what it was like to stay at the Grand Canyon in the 30's. Another plus is the dining room where you can order a meal from a menu before you hike down Bright Angel Trail.
- El Tovar Hotel: It's not easy to get reservations at El Tovar. They recently went through a renovation yet kept the old-world hunting lodge atmosphere. The style is a little Swiss, somewhat Scandinavian, and definitely rustic European. El Tovar opened in 1905 and so celebrated a centennial birthday in 2005. The popularity of El Tovar had some bearing on the area's recognition as a National Monument in 1908, and as a National Park in 1919. El Tovar is the most expensive of the lodges. If you are pinching pennies, we suggest you stay at one of the other lodges and walk through the lobby at El Tovar and perhaps stop for a meal in their dining room.
- Kachina Lodge: Kachina is a two-story Lodge with modern comforts, phone and bath, and is ideal for families. If you look at a facility map, you will notice which facilities are on the rim and which are within a short drive of the Canyon's rim.
- Maswik Lodge: Maswik Lodge is a two-story lodge & rustic cabins located 1/4 mile from South Rim. There is a restaurant on site.
- Thunderbird Lodge: Thunderbird is a family-oriented lodge situated just at the south rim.
- Yavapai Lodge: Yavapai is a modern motor lodge in wooded setting between Yavapai Point and the Grand Canyon Village, 3/4 mile from the Canyon's edge. It has an adjacent cafeteria-style restaurant. The rooms are comfortable and the setting tranquil. You may see deer wandering past your window.