Camping in the GRAND - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-14-2007   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 151
Camping in the GRAND

quick question...
i will be hiking in to phantom ranch and joining a private grand canyon float trip this summer (we have already acquired all the necessary permits, assured that my name is on it from the start so that we have the ok of the rangers, etc.- i just cant be there on the day of the put-in.
as a result, i plant to get myself from denver to the bottom of the canyon in a day. my plan is to:
- launch my gear with the rest of the trip
- fly from denver to flagstaff early in the am
- catch some kind of a canyon tour bus to the south rim
- hike down to the phantom ranch area and spend the night
- join my crew as they float by the next morning

my questions are:
1. is there a better way to get from the airport in flagstaff to the south rim?
2. what about camping at phantom? it seems like every internet search i do sends me to little cabins that are for rent, and which seem to be catered toward the pack mule tours. is camping allowed? are there permits"" how do i find out if they are still available??


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Old 04-14-2007   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 16
camping at Phantom Ranch


I did the Grand a couple of years ago on a winter trip and we had three hikers come in and camp at Phantom. When we walked up to mail our letters from Phantom I remember seeing the campsites along the creek. Not sure who manages them though. Our group did say that the ring-tailed cats are a real pain down there. Sorry that isn't much help. There are sites there but not sure how to reserve them. Also, depending on where your group is camped you may be able to camp with them that night. I just rowed over from Lower Cremation to pick up our hikers once we spotted them on the bridge. They only stayed one night at Phantom.

Good luck, that sounds like a heck of a long day.
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Old 04-15-2007   #3
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,002

The campground in the vicinity of Phantom is managed by the GC Backcountry office, and that's who you need to talk to about staying there.

Alternately, you might want to consider staying on the rim, getting up early and hiking the nine miles down while the temps are still low (you say it's a summer trip). That's what I'd do. That way, your trip can meet you at the beach mid-day and still get to a decent camp down below with no trouble.

If you want to get a lot wider base of input, you might want to post over at


Rich Phillips

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Old 04-15-2007   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,107
I'd second hiking in the morning

As Rich noted, I'd second hiking in the morning. I did the same thing when I hiked in to Phantom via the bright angel train. Everything was on the boat but minimal personal stuff which was light. We started hiking at dawn and went fast with light packs and made it down to phantom by 10.

I'd think that the early start with cooler temps and a lighter pack would be better than the all day travel / afternoon sweltering heat hike / w/ heavier pack.

Your group will probably camp above phantom and stop there mid morning anyway, so you probably won't meet them any faster going the night before.

Not sure about the shuttles, but I'd be willing to bet there is one.

Have a great trip.
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Old 04-15-2007   #5
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Like the other guys are saying, hike in the morning. The trip I took in augest it always got over 110 in the afternoon and I know it got over 120 one or two days I was down there. You do NOT want to be hiking in that. Even just walking downhill you have to drink a lot of water. That being said, it is a awsome exprience. Have fun.
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Old 04-15-2007   #6
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 151
specific campsite?

are you then able to suggest a specific campsite at the south rim where i might try to get a reservation??
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Old 04-15-2007   #7
Join Date: Feb 2005
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There is an NPS campsite on the south rim, not terribly far from the Bright Angel Trail trailhead. That's the option I would investigate. An early wakeup, a mile or so walk down the rim, and you're on the trail.

I think you're right -- since you're talking about summer time, check the Park web site about reservations.


Rich Phillips
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Old 04-15-2007   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3
The Grand


I too joined a trip at Phantom two winters ago. I agree with a previous post that sleeping on the rim and hiking in the next morning is the easiest way to do this. The hike in is not too bad, I actually carried a XXX down to the bottom. I think you'll find the logistics of camping on the rim a lot easier than trying to get a camping spot at Phantom. Good luck.

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Old 04-16-2007   #9
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Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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I've done the hike into Phantom a few times and the early morning hike is the ticket. Getting a campsite reservation may be your biggest challenge. In the summer, everything fills up early. If you want to camp at Phantom, you must get a Backcountry permit and they only give out so many per day and then you also need a campsite reservation.
So, camp on the rim, take the 4:30 am or so shuttle to the Kaibab (sp) trail, be hiking by 5 or so and be to the river by 10 or so. There is no water on the Kaibab, so take twice as much as you think you will need. Maybe 4 liters. The Kaibab is a bit shorter than the Bright Angel trail and hits the bottom very near the bridge.
PS. Make sure you have plenty of toe room in your shoes/boots as you will be sliding forward in them all the way down. Personally, I'd wear light hikers, not boots.
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Old 04-16-2007   #10
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 151

you have all been incredibly helpful, and i thank you for your advice.
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