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How to Plan an Epic RV Trip to the Grand Canyon

How to Plan an Epic RV Trip to the Grand Canyon

If you’ve never ventured to northern Arizona, it’s definitely time to schedule an RV trip to the Grand Canyon. This massive 277-mile long ravine will draw you in with fascinating sunsets over colorful mesas and canyon walls. Like the Colorado River carves its way into the earth, so too will your memories of the Grand Canyon carve their way into your heart. Get started planning today!

About the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon offers a visual geologic chart of 2 billion years of Earth’s history. The Colorado River has, over time, chiseled down through the stone nearly a mile, creating the canyon’s rims. 

This chiseling has revealed vibrant sandstones, shales, schists, and limestones. Many of today’s visitors choose to view the colors and textures of the canyon walls from the river below, rafting the treacherous waters.  

grand canyon view from bottom

Tourists also flock to the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon to view the earth-tone palette of colors from above and to discover the rich history of the people that settled there.

Things To Do At The Grand Canyon

There is no shortage of activities for Grand Canyon visitors. The South Rim offers historic buildings that were once home to adventurers. It was these adventurers that inspired today’s pursuits of photography, hiking, and mule rides into the canyon. 

Camping in the canyon’s bottom is encouraged. However, it’s not for the faint of heart. A trip down and back up includes steep and rocky trails as well as vast temperature changes. Adventure seekers may also find pleasure in seeing the Grand Canyon from the sky via helicopter rides and sky diving.

For others, a raft trip down the Colorado River is the journey of a lifetime. Most companies sell out their tours quickly, and private boat operators line up for allotted space two years in advance. But spending a week or two riding the rapids and camping on sandbars is a unique, one-of-a-kind experience. 

To view the canyon from a truly different perspective, travel west to the Hualapai Reservation. If vertigo or fear of heights has no hold on you, it is guaranteed you will enjoy a saunter along the reservation’s glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk. Stroll out over the chasm, seemingly suspended in midair. We promise it’s a view you won’t soon forget! 

grand canyon view from the north rim

Planning an Epic RV Trip to the Grand Canyon

If you are planning a trip to Arizona’s most popular destination, you will need to keep a few things in mind. First, decide where you will camp and what activities you will do at the Grand Canyon. Planning is definitely required if you want to get the most out of your trip.

If you choose dry camping, be sure you’re prepared. At a minimum, you’ll need lots of water and battery charging options. We wrote an article about dry camping you can use as a resource to help you make a plan: Important Things To Know Before Going Boondocking.

If you want to camp inside the national park, you may need to make reservations many months ahead of time.  Count on 6 months lead time and have a backup plan, as the South Rim can close on occasion due to inclement weather.

Lastly, be prepared for a lot of traffic if you visit during the high season, especially on the South Rim near Grand Canyon Village.  With over 5 million visitors each year, the park is sure to fill up with tourists from around the world.

taking photos at grand canyon

RV Camping in Grand Canyon National Park

Four campgrounds lie within the park boundaries, but only one is available without reservations. Each of the following campgrounds can handle tents and RVs:

Mather Campground

Open year-round, Mather Campground is one of three run by the National Park Service in Grand Canyon National Park. Located within the South Rim’s Grand Canyon Village, Mather is close to the historic district and is accessible to shuttle services.  

It is the largest campground in the park, hosting 319 singles sites and 7 group sites, none of which have hookups. Campsites are suitable for tents and RVs no longer than 30 feet, and water, flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities are available.  

Reservations for Mather Campground can be made up to 6 months in advance, however, online reservations cannot be taken for the months of December, January, and February.  Campers wishing to stay during those months must use a first-come, first-serve self-pay machine at the campground. The price for nightly stays is $18.

North Rim Campground

The North Rim Campground is the only campground within National Park boundaries on the North Rim. This destination is only open from mid-May through mid-October. Because of its higher elevation, this portion of Grand Canyon National Park sees quite a bit of winter weather, making the North Rim inaccessible.  

Tom standing on edge of Grand Canyon North Rim

With 78 single campsites, 12 tent sites, and 3 group sites, this campground is popular with those who enjoy dry camping, as there are no hookups.  Flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities are available, so is a dump station. Generator hours are from 7 am to 9 am and 6 pm to 8 pm daily.  

Reservations are strongly suggested at the North Rim Campground. Nightly rates start at $18 and go up to $25.

Trailer Village Campground

Operated by an outside concessionaire, Trailer Village Campground is located within Grand Canyon Village. It offers full hookups for RVs up to 50 feet in length.  

The campground is open year-round, with amenities like a general store, hot showers, and a laundry facility. Its 125 campsites are especially popular with the tourist crowd because of their location.  

Trailer Village has access to the park shuttle for easy travel throughout Grand Canyon National Park. Nightly stays vary in cost from $60 to $84, with breakfast packages available.

driving RV motorhome through arizona

Desert View Campground

25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village is Desert View Campground. It is located in a less developed and less populated area of the South Rim. Desert View is easily accessed by entering the eastern gate of the park. Additionally, this campground is only open seasonally, usually from mid-April through mid-October.  

Like the other park service campgrounds, this one has no hookups. But it does have 49 sites that can handle up to 3 tents per site or 1 RV per site. The RV should be no longer than 30 feet.  

Generators are allowed from 7 am to 9 am and 6 pm to 8 pm. Also scattered throughout the campground are bathrooms, but no showers or laundry facilities are available.

Unlike Mather Campground, Desert View does not take reservations, so first-come, first-served campers and early birds get the worm. For this reason, the campground usually fills up by noon each day (checkout is 11 am, so the campsites are gone in one hour!). The price for one night is $12.

Nearby Campgrounds

Grand Canyon Camper Village

Located just one mile from the southern entrance to the South Rim, Grand Canyon Camper Village is a convenient lodging option for RVers and tent campers who can’t stay in the National Park.  

They offer all types of hookups, from electric-only to full water, electric, and sewer. The campground has hot showers and a laundry facility on-site as well. With almost 100 campsites, Camper Village is within walking distance to the Imax Theater, many shops, and restaurant options. The cost per night ranges from $25 to $60.

During high season, the national park offers free shuttle service to the park with a paid entry fee. If you’re looking for easy access to popular tourist spots, Camper Village is a good choice.

South rim grand canyon view point

Raptor Ranch Campground

25 miles from Grand Canyon National Park lies an alternative option for RV camping. Raptor Ranch has 32 full hookup campsites available, along with hot showers and a general store.  

But one thing sets them apart from your average campground: raptor flying demonstrations! Guests can watch owls, falcons, and hawks strut their stuff, and interested individuals can even take falconry classes.  

Raptor Ranch is also located next door to The Flintstones Bedrock City, where Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, and Pebbles and Bam Bam rocked the world of cartoons. You will be yelling “Yabba dabba doo!” after your visit to this unique RV park! The price for a one night stay is $37.

camping in arizona near grand canyon

Tips for Dry Camping Near the Grand Canyon

If boondocking is more your speed, there are a number of places to find some space and spread out.  The Kaibab National Forest surrounds both rims of the canyon, where dry camping abounds.  

Take any one of the forest roads to find your own little slice of privacy close to the biggest hole in the ground. Or, move a bit further out into the desert for some fun in the sun. To find some officially documented dispersed campsites, check out Campendium or the Kaibab National Forest website.

Be prepared for your dry camping experience with plenty of fresh water on hand and battery power (which can be provided by solar panels, a generator, or vehicle alternator charging). You must also have a self-contained toilet in your RV.  

Many campers prefer this “back to nature” lodging over staying in an organized campground, especially when viewing such an astounding natural phenomenon like the Grand Canyon!

tent camping in arizona canyon

Backcountry Camping at the Grand Canyon

Backcountry tent camping is a popular option. In fact, this activity is so popular the National Park Service receives over 30,000 permit requests each year. (Yes, a backcountry permit is required.) Campers with a penchant for adventure can hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for some overnight stays. 

The Grand Canyon: An Extraordinary Site

It’s never too early (or late!) to start planning an RV trip to Grand Canyon National Park. Whether you choose to enjoy the luxury of full hookup campsites or the peace and quiet of a forested boondocking spot, you will have easy access to one of the world’s most extraordinary sites. You’ll be assured of a journey full of memories that cannot be matched by any other destination on your travel itinerary.

rv roadtrip through arizona

Use RV Trip Wizard to Plan Your Grand Canyon Adventure

The Grand Canyon is a premier destination, not only for people all over the US but all over the world! Taking an RV trip to the Grand Canyon is an unforgettable experience. To have the most epic trip possible, do your part ahead of time!

Spend your time researching the campgrounds and planning so when you arrive you can focus on enjoying yourself – not scrambling for a place to spend the night. 

Your road trip getting to the Grand Canyon requires some planning, too. We recommend checking out RV Trip Wizard to help you plan your rest stops, fuel stops, overnight stays, and routes, so you arrive at the Grand Canyon ready for adventure!

Simply plug in your RV type, your fuel capacity, and your driving preferences, and let RV Trip Wizard do the work. Try it out today for free to see what we mean!

RV Trip Wizard

Happy road-tripping!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Alan Nodolf

Sunday 31st of January 2021

The Grand Canyon has to be experienced to be fully appreciated for its’ awe-inspiring, almost spiritual feeling and beauty. I can vouch for Desert View Campground, at the east end of the park. It is a short hike from the campground to the rim, and the Watchtower is a must-see. My partner and myself are to be the camp hosts at Desert View this summer(2021), and we hope to see you there.

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