The Ultimate Grand Canyon Camping Guide
There is your life before visiting the Grand Canyon and there is your life after! When the magnificent 10-mile wide gap in the Earth first reveals itself to you, prepare for a mix of emotions as you absorb the vivid colors, dramatic landscapes, and ancient rock layers that hold secrets dating back almost 2 billion years. The Grand Canyon National Park is not only a hiker’s Mecca, but also offers gorgeous drives, easily accessible viewpoints, and wild adventures such as climbing, rafting, and canyoneering. Consider this your Grand Canyon camping guide, providing you with helpful do’s and don’ts, essentials for your Grand Canyon packing list, and a 7-day itinerary for an amazing Grand Canyon camping adventure.
Are you ready to visit one of the seven wonders of the natural world? As your official Grand Canyon guide, we want you to know all about the North and South Rims and the different seasons. Summer will always be a busy time at the park but the perks are that you can visit both rims and experience the sweltering heat that makes the location so famous. Meanwhile, winter feels as though you have the park all to yourself and you can enjoy the unique sight of snow blanketing the colorful rocks. To get the full experience, camp at the Grand Canyon in one of our roadsurfer Class B RV and give yourself a few days to truly appreciate its beauty.
Itinerary: 7-Day Grand Canyon Camping Trip
A 7-day Grand Canyon camping trip is the perfect amount of time to enjoy the entirety of the park and get in some good hiking as well. Consider yourself lucky if you get to explore both sides of the canyon, as most people never make it to the North Rim. While the North Rim (closed from mid-October to mid-May) rewards it’s visitors with reduced crowds and stays pleasantly cool in the summertime, the South Rim is more popular and has better views of the canyon’s sheer magnitude. Enjoy some pitstops along the way and refreshing dips at Lake Havasu and Lake Mead. Have fun!
Day 1: L.A. – Lake Havasu (5 hour drive)
- Rent a boat, kayak, or water bike for the day and explore the cliffs and coves of Havasu’s lake.
- Pack games and a picnic, and head to the beach at Lake Havasu State Park.
- Visit the famous London Bridge, transported all the way from the river Thames in 1971.
Campground: Lake Havasu State Park
Day 2 + 3: Grand Canyon South Rim (3.5 hour drive)
- Explore the South Rim by visiting the Grand Canyon’s Historic Village, Desert View Watch Tower, and Mather Point.
- Recommended Hikes:
- Beginner: Trail of Time (3-mile, flat hike, informational placards along the way), Rim Trail (varying distances, paved, along the rim)
- Intermediate: Bright Angel Trail (varying distances, steep, some shade) South Kaibab Trail (6- mile round trip, steep, access with shuttle bus)
- Expert Hikes: Havasupai Falls (20-mile round trip to gorgeous waterfall, camping overnight allowed, permits required), Horseshoe Mesa (via Grandview Trail, steep, 6.5-mile round trip, camping overnight allowed, permit required)
Camping Inside Grand Canyon NP: Mather Campground
Dispersed Camping: Coconino Rim Road, Kaibab National Forest (please always check the rules and regulations before dispersed camping)
Day 4 + 5: Grand Canyon North Rim (4 hour drive)
- While driving to the North Rim, make pitstops at the Historic Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, explore Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and look for buffalo near Kaibab Plateau.
- Recommended Hikes:
- Beginner Hikes: Cape Royal Trail (.6-mile, round trip, paved, views of Colorado River), Transept Trail (3-mile, round trip, follows the rim)
- Intermediate Hikes: Uncle Jim Trail (5-mile, round trip, forested trail), Supai Tunnel (4-mile, round trip)
- Expert Hikes: North Rim-to-South Rim Trail (24 miles, one-way, North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail, camping permits required), Roaring Springs (via North Kaibab Trial, 9.5 miles, round trip)
Camping Inside Grand Canyon NP: North Rim campground (open May 15- October 15)
Dispersed Camping: Forest Service Road 611
Day 6: Lake Mead/ Las Vegas (4.5 hour drive)
- Rent a kayak and join a guided group for a sunset paddle to beautiful Emerald Cove.
- Visit the historical 730-foot-tall Hoover Dam bordering Arizona and Nevada.
- Hike the 9-mile Las Vegas Overlook Trail for a unique daytime view of the Las Vegas strip.
Campground: Boulder Beach Campground
Day 7: Return to L.A. (4 hour drive)
- Grab a delicious coffee and French pastry at the nearby La Pain Du Jour Bakery.
- Return your RV camper van to roadsurfer by 11:00 am
Packing List For Camping in the Grand Canyon
“Carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care,” said a wise outdoorsman. We have put together a Grand Canyon Packing List that will allow you to hike safely, comfortably, and be well-prepared. Avoid any reason that could cause you to end your trip early, like something as simple as blister-inducing socks or a lack of water. Our packing list includes everything you may need or want, now you just have to pack it!
- Pack plenty of water. Keep in mind, the second half of the hike is more strenuous.
- CamelBaks carry a lot of water and you’ll never have to fumble with your pack or pesky water bottles.
- Wear moisture-wicking clothing and pack layers for weather changes.
- Keep your feet dry with anti-blister socks.
- Use hiking poles to maintain your balance and good posture.
- Protect yourself with a sun and UV shielding hat.
- Pack nutritional snack bars and replenish with electrolyte gel
- A ventilation mesh backpack will prevent a sweaty back and keep you cool.
- You’ll want crampons and warm fleece clothing when hiking in wintertime.
- Accidents do happen, so have an emergency kit with you that’s appropriate for the season.
Do's and Don'ts
Visiting the Grand Canyon is on a lot of people’s bucket lists and that means millions of visitors every year. Sometimes that can result in long lines, busy trails, and tourists with a wide range of outdoor experiences. Don’t get yourself caught in a sticky situation: know the rules, practice caution, and adhere to these tips from fellow campers.
- Buy your National Park Pass online and ahead of time.
- Check the NPS website daily for alerts, closures, and important information.
- Take the free shuttle bus provided by the park, don’t hassle with parking.
- Enjoy the park during sunset and sunrise hours. These hours provide an alternative perspective that can be even more beautiful and peaceful as the crowds are gone.
- Know your hiking ability.
- Prepare for weather changes and seasonal climates.
- Pack extra water, whether your hiking, walking, or driving your car.
- Don’t forget the hike out is harder than the hike in. Opposite to most hikes, you will start your hike going downhill and spend the second half going back up.
- Don’t go hiking with new shoes or ones that are not hiking appropriate.
- Try not to hike alone. Make friends with other walkers, or at least let someone know what trail you are taking and when you expect to check back in.
- Don’t overpack your bag, pick your supplies wisely and don’t overload.
- Don’t litter or feed animals in the park. It’s just an obvious no-no.
- Don’t underestimate the heat, no matter how good of shape you are in!
Arizona, here we come! Don’t miss out on your opportunity to visit a natural wonder of the world. Equipped with your roadsurfer and this Grand Canyon camping guide, you are more than prepared for a great vacation.