Stretching for more than 277 miles, and plummeting 6,000 feet at its deepest point, the Grand Canyon is without a doubt one of our planet's great natural wonders. It also happens to be amongst the most visited national parks in the U.S., drawing 6 million visitors on an annual basis. Most spend a day in the park, soaking up the views and hiking along the canyon's rim. Others will stay a bit longer, often camping nearby so they can extend their stay in this remote and breathtaking wilderness.
As you would expect, there are some truly spectacular places to pitch your tent when visiting the Grand Canyon. Whether you're looking for amazing views, excellent access to the trails, or a quiet place to rest for the night, you'll find plenty of options to choose from. In fact, there are so many choices to be found that picking the best one can be a real challenge.
Thankfully, we've sorted through the list for you and compiled our picks for the best campsites near the Grand Canyon.
Located along the South Rim, Mather Campground has more than 300 campsites. During the high season between May and September, it can get rather crowded but because the site is dispersed over a wide area, it rarely feels like it's all that busy.
The surprising thing about Mather is that it offers forest camping at its finest. Surrounded by hundreds of large trees, this is a peaceful and quiet place to relax after a long day exploring the canyon itself. The campsite's proximity to the park and frequent shuttles make it an efficient place to stay too, offering unfettered access to the park all year long. It can even accommodate RVs of up to 30 feet in length. Just be sure to reserve your campsite at Recreation.gov before you go to ensure you have a spot saved.
North Rim Campground
If you're looking to escape the busy camping scene found in Mather, consider jumping to the North Rim Campground instead. This side of the canyon is visited much less frequently, which means it is often easier to reserve a spot. The location is a bit more remote and rugged, but that adds to its allure for experienced hikers and backpackers. That said, RVs are welcome at the North Rim too, although don't expect any power or plumbing hook-ups.
Once settled at this campsite, easily-accessible trails connect to the nearby visitor center and scenic overlooks to the national park. The lush forest, filled with aspen trees and ponderosa pines, makes for an amazing setting too. Keep in mind, however, the North Rim Campsite is only open between mid-May and mid-October and it is best to reserve your space at Rec.gov before arriving.
Desert View Campground
Take Desert View Road into the Grand Canyon to catch some of the best views in the entire national park. Along that same route, you'll also find the Desert View Campground, which puts those same breathtaking vistas right outside your tent. This is Grand Canyon camping as most expect it, with the wide-open and massive landscapes just a short walk away. While this campground is a bit more remote compared to some of the others, it is also extremely quiet.
One of the best aspects of the Desert View Campground is that reservations aren't required. The site operates on a first-come, first-serve basis, which often leads to it filling up rather quickly each day. In order to get a campsite of your own, be sure to arrive early. Also, keep in mind that Desert View is only open from mid-May to mid-October each year, so make your plans accordingly.
Bright Angel Campground
If camping along the rim of the canyon doesn't seem adventurous enough for you, then head into the backcountry for an entirely different experience. A standout among those campsites is Bright Angel, which is actually located on the floor of the canyon itself. That means it requires a bit of hike just to get to the location, but we can assure you the views are well worth the effort. Here, you'll be surrounded by the towering canyon walls and be immersed deep into the wilderness, with opportunities to go on day hikes, do some fishing, and just relax in the beautiful setting.
During the busy summer season, campers are limited to just two nights stay at Bright Angel. During the slower off season, it is possible to double the length of that stay. No matter when you plan on visiting, however, be sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time.
Another backcountry campground that requires a little effort to reach, but is well worth it, is Indian Garden. You'll need to hike well into the canyon to get to this spot, which means that it is seldom crowded or busy. The walk to the campsite alone is nothing short of spectacular and once there, you'll be continually amazed by the views. At night, you'll have the chance to take in some of the best stargazing imaginable, with a billion dots of light covering the sky overhead.
One of Indian Garden's best features is the small stream that flows through it. This provides plenty of water for cooking and drinking (purify first!) without having to walk very far. It also makes the site a popular stopover throughout the day, with groups of hikers and backpackers wandering through. The hustle and bustle subsides at night, however, making the site one of the quieter ones in the entire park.
Reservations aren't necessarily an issue at Indian Garden, but you will need a backcountry permit before going. Those can be in short supply at times, so be sure to apply for one well in advance of your trip.
The Ten-X Campground has two very important aspects that make it a great choice for campers. First, it is located just a few miles away from the park, which makes coming and going throughout the day quick and easy. Despite its close proximity however, the site is amongst the more quiet places to set up camp in the entire region. Couple that with the fact that it offers only primitive camping options—think outhouses and campfire pits—and Ten-X is rarely ever crowded.
If you're mainly looking for a place to sleep at night and serve as your base camp for Grand Canyon adventures, then Tex-X is a great choice for you.
Kaibab National Forest
While camping inside a national park is strictly enforced and regulated, the same thing can't be said for other public lands. In fact, most national forests will let visitors pitch their tent just about anywhere, allowing experienced campers to choose their location.
Such is the case in Kaibab National Forest, a large area of public lands that covers more than 1.6 million acres just outside Grand Canyon National Park. Access roads to commonly used camping areas can be found while coming and going from the park itself. Beyond that however, visitors can simply pick a trail, hike into the backcountry, and settle in for the night anywhere they choose.
This style of camping requires a little more work and planning, but for those who love solitude this approach can't be beat. It also provides access to literally thousands of places to camp, usually with not another soul anywhere in sight.