Value Score No Data
Good For Couples
camping in the backcountry
The Grand Canyon's backcountry is like a whole different experience than anything else in the National Park. Though the bottom of the canyon sees maybe 3% of the visitors as the two rims combined, this is the Grand Canyon and even that small a percentage equates to a fair number of people. This being the case, you can imagine there are some strict rules about not only use but also getting a much coveted pass to camp below the rim. If you want to reserve a spot, you should do it as early as possible to avoid disappointment. But that is not so easy if you are on a long trip and have only an inkling of an idea of when you will arrive.
The National Park service in all their infinite wisdom has even taken that into consideration. They have a certain amount of first-come first-serve backcountry camp spots available each day. You go to the backcountry ranger station, put your name on a list, and if you are willing to come back each day when the office opens, and you have the time to spend, you will get one eventually. Generally speaking, it takes about three or four days but you could get lucky and get it in less. You also have to a bit flexible in your choices if you don't have as much time.
Unique Quality: Certain spots are more popular than others such as Bright Angel and Indian Garden. The former is the camping equivalent of Phantom Ranch, right on the valley floor, on Bright Angel Creek and walking distance to the Colorado River. That is THE camping spot in the canyon but there are a certain amount of walk in spots and if you are physically capable to do the walk, you can get one of these spots if you will wait long enough. Indian Garden is about the half-way point distance-wise though elevation-wise, much deeper into the canyon comparatively speaking. Our original plan was to do Bright Angel one night and stop at Indian Garden our second night but the ranger eyed us up and said it was better for us to do two nights at Bright Angel. This would open up some hiking on the canyon floor to us and he said we would easily be able to hike out in one day. They seemed to save Indian River for people they don't feel can do the hike in one day or who might not be deemed able to hike all the way to the bottom and back.
We are very happy we listened to him. We loved Bright Angel and had a choice spot right on the creek, with ample shade and a big flowering tree that attracted a humming bird every morning. It was the furthest from the bathroom but a small consolation for the scenic beauty it provided. It's a short pretty walk to Phantom Ranch. The prickly pear cacti were in full bloom when we were there so the walk was as nice as the destination. On our “day off” we walked further into the canyon to Ribbon Falls, something we would have missed if we'd done a second night at Indian River. Indian Rive does have a great day hike to Plateau Point but we'd already done that as a warm up hike two days prior to our backcountry trip. It cost $10 per permit plus $5 per day per person. So, our two night price for camping at Bright Angel was $30 which is even less than camping at Mather Campground on the Rim for two nights.
Directions: Right along Bright Angel Creek, not far from Phantom Ranch on the Kaibab Trail.
Bright Angel Campground
Bright Angel Campground is located near the Colorado River at the bottom of the Canyon. The campground has excellent facilities, including flush toilets and running water.
Directions: Bright Angel Trail 7.7 miles from the top
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Arizona, United States
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