Absorb the park's immense beauty by spending a night there, beneath the stars
The Grand Canyon’s dizzying cliffsand vast scope can easily overwhelm ― as can its more than4.5 million annual visitors. One remedy for absorbing the park’simmense beauty and rim-gawking crowds is to spend a night beneaththe stars. You’ll feel a greater sense of peaceful solitude whensleeping in a tent, and you’re more apt to capture the canyon’sdazzling light, particularly at sunrise and sunset. If you’re afterviews alone, the South Rim won’t disappoint; its overlooks galoreoffer varied perspectives on the canyon. The higher, cooler NorthRim ― claiming only 10 percent of the visiting throngs― is more remote and bordered with wildflower meadows andthick stands of spruce.
• North Rim. Facing the canyon, site 14 is lovely. Set at thefar end of the campground, it’s fringed with aspens and ponderosapines and offers easy access to the Transept Trail. An added bonus:a perfect sunset view. 87 sites mid-May-mid-Oct, many reservable; $18-$25.800/365-2267.
• Desert View. Head 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village forthe most peaceful and scenic camping on the South Rim ― notto mention the park’s most beautiful sunrise spot. Professionalphotographers camp here to capture the unfolding layers of colorand shadow at dawn. The best time to secure a spot is midmorning,when people are packing up camp. 50 sites mid-May-Oct; $12.928/638-7888.
Outside the park
• DeMotte. Five miles north of the North Rim entrance, the Forest Service campgroundwas recently remodeled. It’s adjacent to a grassy meadow and offersexcellent interpretive programs. At 8,760 feet, expect coolevenings. 30 sites, 8 of which are brand new (DeMotte has beenunder construction but is expected to be open mid-Jul-late Sep);$14. 928/643-7395.
•Havasu. Tucked into the 185,000-acre Havasupai IndianReservation, this pretty campground is located 10 miles below therim and boasts spring-fed waterfalls and loads of nearby swimmingholes. The sites fan out along the creek between Havasu and MooneyFalls and are surrounded by cool cottonwoods. It’s a three- tofour-hour drive west of the South Rim to Hualapai Hilltop; hike,ride a mule ($150 round-trip), or fly ($170 round-trip) the 8 milesto Supai, and the campground is a 2-mile hoof from there.Campground accommodates up to 200 people year-round; $12 per personplus $30 per person entrance fee. No cars or RVs. 928/448-2121.
• Jacob Lake. Set in a ponderosa pine forest about 45 milesfrom the North Rim, the campground has hiking and biking access toBuck Ridge Viewpoint, where you can catch views of Bryce and Zion.Just across the street is Jacob Lake Inn ($$;breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; 928/643-7232); if you tire ofcamp cooking, head here for a mean trout almondine and excellentbaked goods. 53 sites mid-May-mid-Oct; $14. www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai or928/643-7395.
• Ten-X. Located 2 miles south of Tusayan, the Forest Service campground isset in the woods and has barbecue grills, large sites covered withsoft pine needles, and an amphitheater with excellent weekendprograms. 70 sites May 1-mid-Sep; $10. or 928/638-2443.
What camp hosts say
• Plan ahead when hiking. If you’re going into thecanyon, decide just how long you’d like to hike, then turn aroundonce a third of that time has elapsed. Head out at dawn to avoidhiking in the heat of the day.
• Bring water. It gets hot here in the summer. Plan on2½ gallons of water per person for each day of your stay.
• Take in the sunset. From North Rim Campground, hikealong the Transept Trail at sunset and have a cocktail on the deckat the Grand Canyon Lodge.
Get ready to go
If you’re planning to camp within the park, make thereservations one year in advance ― or try for a first-come,first-served spot at North Rim or Desert View Campgrounds.
Info: Seven-day pass $25 per vehicle. www.nps.gov/grca or928/638-7888.