Where to stay at the Grand Canyon: options & our recommendations (South Rim)


by Cheryl. Updated Oct 2021

image of the bright angel lodge
Bright Angel Lodge in the Grand Canyon village

Are you visiting the Grand Canyon soon, and wondering what your options are for lodging at the Grand Canyon?

Lodging at the Grand Canyon is available year-round at the South Rim and ranges from rustic cabins to luxury accommodations. There are 6 lodges within Grand Canyon National Park and nightly rates range from $90-$350 per night. Visitors also can book accommodations in the nearby towns of Tusayan (12-minute drive), Williams (1-hour drive), or Flagstaff (1.5-hour drive).

This article will let you know what options are available and give recommendations. This only covers lodging on the South Rim. We covered the North Rim in another article. And don’t forget about camping options as well!

In this article we will cover:

  • General Layout of the South Rim
  • Lodging in Grand Canyon Village
  • Lodging outside of the village, but in the park
  • Lodging outside the park
  • Prices
  • Need to know tips
  • Recommendations

General Layout

map of grand canyon lodging areas
General areas for Grand Canyon Lodging

Grand Canyon Village and Visitor Center area

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is actually quite compact. The Grand Canyon Village and Visitor Center area is only 13 square miles.

All 6 of the lodges are within these 13 miles. There are free shuttles running throughout the village and the surrounding areas throughout the day every 15-30 minutes to make it easy for those visiting to park to get to and from the sights from their hotel.

Staying in the National Park means you won’t have to wait in any long lines just to get into the park. You can also get rooms so close to the canyon that you can see it from your window!

Grand Canyon Village area; Tusayan is south a few miles. Map from the NPS

Tusayan

The purple shuttle (currently not running but hoping to open soon) even makes it as far as the town of Tusayan which is 6 miles or a 12-minute drive.

Tusayan, although a smaller town, offers many chain hotels as well as the Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel and the Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon. Many of the hotels in this area offer suites for larger groups and pools.

Tusayan is more affordable than staying inside the park. It has a visitor center (not to be confused with the National Park’s visitor center) which plays the Grand Canyon IMAX movie.

Many tour companies begin their tours in Tusayan.

Williams, Arizona

This quaint Route 66 town is about an hour away from the National Park. Williams is generally the least expensive lodging option. You’ll trade lower lodging costs for more driving.

The Grand Canyon Railway is located in Williams. It transports guests to and from the Grand Canyon daily. The ride is about an hour and tickets cost $70 and up for round trip service.

This is a nostalgic trip back in time when the only way to get to the Grand Canyon was by rail.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Many choose to stay in the larger town of Flagstaff, Arizona, even though it is an hour and a half away. Flagstaff is close to the mystic town of Sedona and offers many hotel and dining options. It’s the nearest “big city.”

There are also three national monuments nearby: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Wupatki.

Lodging in Grand Canyon Village

There is a lot of history and personality to the lodges at the South Rim. Plus, many of them are right on the edge of the canyon so all you have to do is look out your bedroom window for an incredible view.

Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins

The Bright Angel Lodge

Designed by Mary Jane Colter in 1935, the Bright Angel Lodge was designed for tourists on moderate incomes. There are 90 rustic cabin units, some right on the rim.

These cabins have no central air but most have a coffee maker, mini-fridge, and telephone. Depending on the unit you are in, you may or may not have a television or private bath.

The lodge is home to a few restaurants including Fred Harvey Burger, Bright Angel Fountain, Bright Angel Coffee House and Saloon, and the Arizona Steakhouse. Reservations are recommended for the Arizona Steakhouse and Fred Harvey Burger.

Kachina Lodge

Built in the 1960s, this contemporary style lodge offers standard amenities included full baths, flat-screen TVs with satellite, hairdryers, swamp coolers, and mini-fridges.

Rooms are classified as canyon side and street side views so make sure to pick one where you can view the canyon.

Although there is no restaurant on sight, Kachina Lodge is located right in the middle of the village and is within walking distance to several restaurants, shuttle stops, and viewpoints.

And just in case you are curious, the name Kachina comes from the Pueblo people and is a deified ancestral spirit.

Thunderbird Lodge

The Thunderbird Lodge offers the same amenities as the Kachina Lodge, even down to the canyon side and street side views.

There are no stores or restaurants here but it is within walking distance to restaurants, shuttle stops, and viewpoints.

El Tovar Hotel

image of el tovar hotel
El Tovar

Designed by Charles Whittelsey in 1905 after being commissioned by the Santa Fe Railroad to provide premier accommodations to the park’s wealthy guests, El Tovar Hotel remains one of the most sought-after accommodations in the National Parks System.

Not one of the 78 rooms or suites is alike and many famous guests including Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah, Albert Einstein, and Teddy Roosevelt have all been guests to this amazing hotel.

The famous El Tovar Dining Room is a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience where guests dine at tables covered in linen tablecloths while overlooking the canyon through the expansive windows of the lodge.

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests dine on locally sourced food deliciously prepared. Reservations are required for lunch and dinner but breakfast is available for walk-ins. El Tovar also has a lounge.

picture of french toast
Our breakfast at the elegant El Tovar

Lodges Outside of the Grand Canyon Village, but still in the park

Maswik Lodge

1/4 mile south of the Grand Canyon Village is the Maswik Lodge which has the most services in the park including a general store, post office, bank, and kennel.

Maswik also has a general store with a deli, a food court, and the Pizza Pub. There are 280 rooms located in 12 two-story buildings. Maswik Lodge is currently being renovated but their rooms already contain mini-fridges, TV, A/C, and hair dryers.

Yavapai Lodge

If traveling with your pet is important to you, Yavapai Lodge is where you’ll want to stay.

Located only 5 minutes away from the Grand Canyon Village and accessible using the Blue Route shuttle, Yavapai has the largest lodge with 380 rooms.

It also has the Yavapai Restaurant, Tavern, and Coffee shop as well as a store and charging stations for electric cars.

Lodging Prices

Cost is a major factor when determining where to stay. Below is a table of average room prices depending on the time of year.

Lodge/HotelJanuary Average PriceAugust Average Price
Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins$90$115
El Tovar Lodge$250$338
Kachina Lodge$225$274
Thunderbird Lodge$225$274
Maswik Lodge$175$269
Yavapai Lodge$214$214
*City of Tusayan$100-$115$215
*City of Williams$50$70
Average prices for hotels at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon * Average prices for hotels in the city

Lodging outside the park

Tusayan, AZ

Tusayan is a smaller town located 12 minutes south of the Grand Canyon Village. Rooms run $50-$100 cheaper per night and there are some larger hotel chains there. Family suites are available in many of these hotels as well as pools and microwaves. The purple line shuttle transports guests from Tusayan to the Grand Canyon Village. Tusayan is our pick if you are traveling with a family.

Williams, AZ

Williams is a darling town that is an hour south of Grand Canyon on the historic Route 66.  It is also home to the Grand Canyon Railroad that transports guests to and from the Grand Canyon daily. 

With Williams, you’re getting cheaper lodging in exchange for more driving time to the park.

Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff is the biggest town near the Grand Canyon and has a lot of activities, lodging, and food.  Although this might be a great place to stay on the way to or from the Grand Canyon, we don’t recommend staying here because it is an 80 minute drive. If you choose to stay here, you can enter the park by the South Entrance or the East Entrance (Desert View). The East Entrance will probably have shorter lines.

We almost always find the best deals using booking.com, so we highly recommend using it. Our favorite hotels are generally Best Westerns, which generally have great customer service and clean hotels.

Need to Know Tips

1. Book Early

Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar, Thunderbird Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Maswik Lodge are available to book 13 months in advance.

These lodges, especially El Tovar Hotel, book up that early. If you are a planner, mark your calendar and make those reservations when they open. If the place you are wanting to stay is already booked up, check for cancellations. They occur fairly often and you might just have luck on your side.

Yavapai Lodge is a bit more forgiving for last-minute travelers. They recommend booking 3-4 months in advance but they often have openings the week before or even the day of, depending on the time of year it is.

With Williams and Tusayan, every hotel will have its own rules on when advance bookings are open. It is still a good idea to book accommodations as soon as you know you are traveling, especially if it’s during the peak tourism season of May-September or on weekends.

2. Parking not guaranteed

Lodges and hotels in the Grand Canyon Village DO NOT have dedicated parking. Parking lots in the village are for all park visitors, including hotel guests and people who just drive in for the day. This can create a very long unloading process if you are unable to secure a spot close to your room. Parking at Maswik Lodge and Yavapai Lodge will be less of a hassle.

3. No microwaves allowed!

The Grand Canyon is in the desert and is at high risk for forest fires. Microwaves are deemed a fire hazard and are not allowed. If you are planning on doing some of your own cooking, you’ll need to get creative.

Also, be aware that it is not a given that your room will have A/C. The South Rim is cooler than you would think, but it still heats up in the summer.

4. No family rooms available

This one really surprised me, so much so that I actually made some phone calls to confirm that it is true.

There ARE NOT rooms that will sleep more than 5 people at the South Rim.

I take that back, there is ONE cabin at Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins that will accommodate 6, but that is it. If you are traveling with a group of 6 or more, you will either need to book 2 rooms or head south to Tusayan or Williams.

Staying in Tusayan may not be a bad idea anyway if you have a family. Many of the hotels have pools and free breakfast which none of the hotels in the National Park have.

5. National Parks use concessionaires

Although this may be common knowledge, it is worth mentioning that Grand Canyon National Park South Rim uses 2 concessionaire companies to manage their food and lodging.

Xanterra manages all the properties except the Yavapai Lodge, which is run by Delaware North.

I only mention this because if you Google “Lodging in Grand Canyon”, you could possibly go straight to Xanterra’s website and only see their properties. I believe this is one of the reasons that Yavapai Lodge does not fill as quickly.

To make sure that you see all lodging that is available, make sure that “NPS” is in the URL. The National Park Service will always list all the properties available, unlike the concessionaires who will only list their own.

Recommendations

If you still aren’t decided on where you’d like to stay, check out the table below.

CategoryLodging
BudgetBright Angel Lodge and Cabins
LuxuryEl Tovar Hotel
Pet FriendlyYavapai Lodge or Maswik Lodge
Last MinuteYavapai Lodge
Family AccommodationsCity of Tusayan, AZ
Grand Canyon Train ExperienceCity of Williams, AZ
Nightlife & ArtsCity of Flagstaff, AZ

Even with some of the challenges that come with staying at the Grand Canyon Village, no other location compares the views and charm.

If you are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, we have an itinerary to help you see the BEST of the Grand Canyon! It even includes an AUDIO GUIDE to help you learn about the Grand Canyon!

You can also check out our Grand Canyon page that has all of our articles and videos covering the Grand Canyon.

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