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5 Tips for Planning an RV Trip to The Grand Canyon

Published on January 24th, 2024 by Terri Nighswonger
This post was updated on February 15th, 2024

The Grand Canyon is a must-see natural formation that is epic in scale. You have to plan an RV trip to the Grand Canyon National Park at least once in your life. Here’s why.

This Arizona landmark is 277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide. It has stunning views, wildlife, and great opportunities to get out and have an adventure. Just the wonder of this park with wildlife and beautiful vistas is nothing short of awesome.

5 Top Tips For Your RV Trip to the Grand Canyon

Whether you want to arrive in April, September, or anywhere in-between, planning an RV trip to the Grand Canyon can get complicated, fast. Check out these tips on how to find and reserve RV camping and get around in the park like a pro.

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1. Decide if the North Rim or South Rim is Best for You

One of the very first questions you need to answer before you head out on your trip is, “Is RV camping for me better at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, or the North Rim?”

The South Rim is the more popular option. There you can find historic lodges, museums, hiking trails, and more. It is also lower in elevation and warmer than the North Rim in the summer.

The North Rim is remote, and at a higher elevation. As a result, it’s only open from May-October and is often snow-bound in the winter. There are fewer services there and less accessibility. Of course, this also means that it will be slightly less busy. You will still see plenty of other RVers. It’s the Grand Canyon, after all.

If you head to the South Rim and then decide to go to the North Rim it is 215 miles that translates into a five-hour car trip.

The North Rim is home to the Grand Canyon Lodge, a visitor’s center, and several popular hiking trails including the Bright Angel Point Trail and the Transept Trail. There are several RV campgrounds on the North Rim. See below for amenities and length restrictions.

2. Know Which Campgrounds Work Best for You

small orange trailer pulled by blue pickup surrounded by woods and picnic table
North Rim Campground has will accommodate up to a 40-foot RV. (Image: RV LIFE Campgrounds)

As reported in the National Parks Traveler’s Essential Guide To RVing In The National Park System, you will definitely find places to park a small or large RV at the Grand Canyon National Park. Some campgrounds can even take rigs up to 50 feet. And there are some camping spaces, for instance at the North Rim, that have a length limit of only 15 feet. Most all Grand Canyon Campgrounds have RV length limits. Spots for those long rigs will be at a premium. Some dispersed camping outside of the park is also available.

Gone are the days of showing up and hoping for a spot. As of 2024, only about 30 RV-friendly campsites in the Grand Canyon National Park are non-reservable, walk-up camp sites.

In this article we will look at all RV camping options in the Grand Canyon area. But whether you stay in a developed campground or boondock outside the park, remember, this is not a spontaneous RV trip. Taking your RV to the Grand Canyon always requires planning.

If you want to stay in a campground, make your reservations as early in the year as possible. Some destinations require campsite booking a year in advance. Here are the highlights for each RV-friendly campground in and near the Grand Canyon.

South Rim RV Camping Option 1: Ten-X Campground

Ssssh! One of the newest camping options near the Grand Canyon’s South Rim is the Ten-X Campground. Operated by the U.S. Forest Service, this spot is just 15 minutes from the park gates. Clearly, many people still don’t know about it. But now you do!

The Grand Canyon Campground is expensive and packed to capacity; Ten X was about 80% full and this was 4th of July week. Otherwise, it is perhaps 30% full. All the campsites are spread out, very quiet and dark at night. Elk are plentiful and, in fact, wondered directly through our campsite.

@fruffiii, RV LIFE Campgrounds

As of 2024, this generator-friendly campground is a bargain. At $10 a night you get fewer neighbors, more wildlife, and the newest camping experience in the Grand Canyon. But come prepared. Here’s what you can expect.

  • No hookups, no water, no services
  • 142 campsites, 30 are non-reservable
  • Elevation is 6,600 feet.
Ten-X Campground wildlife. (Image: @fruffiii, RV LIFE Campgrounds)
Ten-X Campground wildlife. (Image: @fruffiii, RV LIFE Campgrounds)

Ten-X Campground is open May 15 through September 30. Although there are 30 non-reservable sites, reservations are recommended.

South Rim RV Camping Option 2: Mather Campground

This is one of the only National Park Service campgrounds at the South Rim that takes reservations. Mather Campground is open year-round. Unfortunately, it can only accommodate small RVs up to 30 feet in length.

  • In the summer, the NPS recommends making a reservation (recreation.gov) at least 6 months in advance.
  • In the winter, the sites are first-come, first-served.

Mather Campground does not have any electric, sewer or water hookups. There is a dump and water fill station nearby. Generators are permitted from 7-9 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. There are showers and laundry services. A shuttle service is also available to take guests to nearby sites.

tall trees surround a Class C camper with blue sky coming through
Mather Campground at the South Rim. (Image: RV LIFE Campgrounds)

South Rim RV Camping Option 3: Trailer Village

The best Grand Canyon RV campground for RV renters and new RVers is Trailer Village RV Park, located at the South Rim.

This campground is open year-round by a National Park Service concessionaire. Choose a basic full hookup RV campsite, or the Bed & Breakfast package that includes nightly lodging and daily breakfast at the Yavapai Restaurant for each person. Plan your Grand Canyon RV trip far in advance if you want to book a spot in Trailer Village during the busy summer months.

  • It’s the only park campground with full hookups.
  • And, it’s also the only big rig-friendly campground in the Grand Canyon: RVs up to 50 feet long are fine.

The park’s free shuttle bus route has a stop at the entrance to Trailer Village. Ride it to restaurants, trails, and sightseeing spots along the South Rim.

elk standing next to an RV motorhome
You might see elk if you camp at Trailer Village. (Image: RV LIFE Campgrounds).

South Rim RV Camping Option 4: Desert View Campground

The South Rim’s Desert View Campground might be a place for you to park your RV. This campground has 49 reservations-only RV campsites with no hookups. The campground can accommodate RVs no more than 30 feet in length (including tow vehicle).

  • Beautiful scenery near hiking and scenic views
  • Heavily treed with tight corners that make navigation difficult for large RVs
  • All back-in campsites, reservable 6 months in advance between April 13 and October 13
  •  It is possible to make same day call-in and/or online reservations.
  • Limited generator hours
Desert View Campground site (Image: @Pprenko, RV LIFE Campgrounds)
Desert View Campground site (Image: @Pprenko, RV LIFE Campgrounds)

Desert View is located 26 miles from Grand Canyon Village and is home to some spectacular views of the Colorado River. It has its own visitor’s center and ranger programs.

North Rim RV Camping Option 1: North Rim Campground

The South Rim RV Campground at the Grand Canyon can be quite busy. If a quieter pace is more of what you are looking for, the North Rim Campground is a better choice. However it does have some downsides. First, it’s an all-day drive from the South Rim attractions. Second, it’s heavily treed with tight corners and low branches. Big rigs may find navigation challenging.

  • Located 215 miles from the South Rim
  • North Rim Campground is dry camping. It does not have hookups.
  • Water and dump station facilities are available.
  • Most spaces are limited to a 27-foot or 15-foot maximum RV length. A select number of premium spots can accommodate up to a 40-foot RV.

The North Rim Campground is open from May 15-Oct 31.

Class A motorhome with red car behind, surrounded by trees with snow on the ground
Even a larger RV can find a place at the North Rim Campground. (Image: RV LIFE Campgrounds)

North Rim RV Camping Option 2: Kaibab Camper Village

Kaibab Camper Village is the closest campground with full hookups near the North Rim. This is a remote, private campground with access via a long dirt road through US Forest Service property. Keep in mind that there are no shuttles available here and the village is 44 miles north of the North Rim’s visitor Center. You will need to have a toad to get around.

  • Full hookups with 30-amp electricity
  • Laundry and bathrooms
  • Camp store with small selection of supplies
Kaibab Camper Village campsites (Image: @keneesaw_farmers, RV LIFE Campgrounds)
Kaibab Camper Village campsites (Image: @keneesaw_farmers, RV LIFE Campgrounds)

What About Free Boondocking Outside of Grand Canyon Park?

Finding free camping near Grand Canyon National Park takes research. According to the National Park Service, you can find some free boondocking spots in the surrounding Kaibab National Forest, like at the 688 Dispersed camping spot. There are no services, including cellular connectivity. But what do you want for free?

So grateful to RVLife & reviewers that guided us to this beautiful site. Spent mornings listening to the wind in the pines & bugling elk. No one around us at all!! Took out some garbage previous campers unfortunately left behind. Best boondocking experience ever! Free, peaceful, bliss :

@William Collins, RV LIFE Campgrounds

Got a short, rugged 4×4 RV?

There are other spectacular boondocking spots around the Grand Canyon, but they’re only recommended for truck campers and vans with four-wheel drive capabilities. These free camping options require good off-road driving skills, and preferably with people who have outdoor wilderness survival skills. This is extreme country!

Try boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest’s Indian Hollow Campground. You can stay there free for up to 14 days. But only the most adventurous RVers need to go there: there are just three sites, it’s quite far from major attractions or services, and access is rough.

Toroweep Overlook (Image: Shutterstock)
Toroweep Overlook (Image: Shutterstock)

An even more rugged adventure base camp is waiting at Tuweep Campground. This reservations-only campground is located in one of the most remote parts of the national park and offers some of the Grand Canyon’s most dramatic viewpoints. Toroweap Overlook is at 3,000 vertical feet above the Colorado River. The volcanic cinder cones and lava flow in this ancestral home of the Southern Paiute people make this area unique.

  • Access is challenging and demands skills at negotiating difficult roadways.
  • Reservations and an advance permit is required, along with proof of insurance.
  • Nine campsites and one group camping area
  • Best for expert off-road travelers only

3. The best time to RV to the Grand Canyon is April through June, or Fall

This time of year has the lowest rainfall and best temperatures. Once June hits, school is out, and families will be spending vacation time at the park en masse. July and August can have unbearable heat. Mid-October and November can be chilly in the higher elevations, and you will have fewer camping options too.

You will want to make your campground reservation well in advance of your trip. The park has some 6 million visitors a year and is one of the busiest parks in the National Park system. The South Rim sees visitors all year round and holidays and weekends fill up fast.

What Do Grand Canyon Entrance Fees Cost?

Unless you visit on a free national parks day, you will need to pay to get into the Grand Canyon National Park. You can opt to pay at the park entrance when you get there or get your passes online. Remember, there may not be great cell service and you will need to show your pass, via your phone, so be aware and have it available offline. Passes are $35 for a 7-day private vehicle pass available online.

A great way to save money is to purchase a National Park Pass. The America the Beautiful National Parks Pass is good at all National Parks in the US. Once you have this, you can get into the Grand Canyon for free. The pass admits the cardholder and any passengers in a non-commercial vehicle. Camping fees still apply.

Visitors can also get in free if they hold Interagency Passes, Golden Passports, National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes, Grand Canyon passes, or are 16 years of age or younger.

Take Advantage of the Park’s Free Shuttle Buses

Once you arrive, finding a parking space in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim can be a challenge. Take advantage of the Park & Ride which is complimentary with your park pass purchase. It will take you inside the park and drop you off at the Visitor’s Center.

First, park outside the park in Tusayan and take the shuttle into the park. You can even park your RV in designated areas at the Park & Ride, The RP’s Stage Stop, and the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and IMAX.

Once you are dropped off at the Visitor’s Center, you can transfer to the in-park complimentary shuttle that will take you to on a round trip to all the famous landmarks and trailheads like the Bright Angel Trail and the Rim Trail. Either purchase your Grand Canyon National Park pass online or show your annual pass to access the shuttle. Maps are available at your fingertips in the RV LIFE Pro suite of tools.

4. RVLIFE Tools Can Plan Your Grand Canyon RV Trip

You can fly into the nearest airport and rent a car for your Grand Canyon adventure. But we think that taking your RV is the best way to visit. It’s relatively close to all major cities:

  • From From Los Angeles, California: you’ll drive about 8 hours from LA.
  • And from Las Vegas, Nevada, you’re looking at about a five hour drive.
  • If you’re driving from Phoenix, Arizona, the Grand Canyon is less than four hours.
  • The closest city is Flagstaff, just about two hours away.

Just make sure you have the best trip planning tools, like RVLife Pro Tools. How anyone gets along without using it is beyond me. Using our RV Life Pro is an absolute must before you even start to plan your Grand Canyon journey. At $59 per year, you get a wealth of information and help at your fingertips. For example:

RV LIFE Trip Wizard is all you need to organize a Grand Canyon camping trip.

It allows you to plan your trip, complete with a map of your journey, stops along the way, including campgrounds, restaurants, and gas stations. You input your RV information and particulars regarding the trip and the app will plan your route to avoid low bridges, dirt roads, toll roads, and more. You will also get a calculation of expenses based on your vehicle input, etc.

RV LIFE Campgrounds lets you research the best Grand Canyon campgrounds.

Grand Canyon Campground Reviews
See dozens of Grand Canyon Campground Reviews

See reviews that include real feedback from actual RVers who have been there. You can also see pictures of the parks, find out about amenities, and get contact information so you can pick the best place for your rig and your family and get your reservations made with confidence.

And RV LIFE Maintenance helps you care for your rig so you can get there!

Track upcoming maintenance dates, and sends you detailed reminders to keep your RV in working condition. It’s a cloud-based service that works on your tablet, computer, or smartphone. 

With RV LIFE tools, when you are ready to head out, you know everything has been done for the safest trip possible.

Things to Do at the Grand Canyon

Visiting the Grand Canyon will provide a great adventure for individuals, couples, or your large family. Don’t miss out on a hike or mule ride to the bottom of the canyon. From Williams, AZ, about 60 miles south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, you can board the Grand Canyon Railway and see the sites in a spectacular mix of adventure, sightseeing, and history.

Don’t miss a scenic drive around the park  (especially at sunrise or sunset). For more adventure you can go rafting on the Colorado River or take a Jeep tour. You can even take a helicopter tour of the canyon.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is another can’t miss site.

The horseshoe bend walkway extends almost 70 feet out over the canyon at the Hualapai-owned Grand Canyon West. It is not part of the National Park Service or Grand Canyon National Park. Look down if you dare at the 4,000 feet of vertical beauty.

However you choose to RV at Grand Canyon National Park, follow some of these tips and you will have not only a great adventure, but a relaxing getaway too.

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