Grand Canyon Cell Phone Coverage

“One ringy-dingy” travelers! That’s Lily Tomlin, y’know, from “Laugh-In?” Yes, I’m “old school,” but today’s Grand Canyon Question from TripAdvisor has to do with using a very “new-school” convenience in a very old place: cell phone coverage.

Verizon’s Cellular Coverage Map – https://www.verizon.com/coverage-map/

AT & T Cellular Coverage AT & T’s Cellular Coverage Map – https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html

T-Mobile Cellular Coverage Area T-Mobile (Sprint) Cellular Coverage Map – https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map

‘SXB_12’ writes:

Can anyone tell me how is the cell phone coverage for ATT and T-Mobile inside Grand Canyon National Park and places around it? I looked on the Grand Canyon park website for network coverage, but I want to know from people who have actually used their phones and had no problems.

There actually was a time – that I remember quite well – when there was NO cell phone coverage AT ALL at Grand Canyon National Park! Peeved some city dwellers to no end. Thankfully that’s changed; to a degree anyway.

TripAdvisor DE’s and recent Grand Canyon travelers filled us in:

‘Bob B,’ DE for Tucson Arizona and Northern Mexico says:

“Had no problems with my AT&T IPhone there.”

For T-Mobile users, though, Grand Canyon DE ‘SouthJerseyGirl’ has some bad news:

I have T-mobile and it’s just about non-existent anywhere other than the Grand Canyon Park Village area (where the 4 Grand Canyon hotels are on the rim). If you are planning on North Rim also….forget about it!! We had absolutely no coverage there!!

Recent Grand Canyon visitor ‘sinaigirl’ adds:

I have a Verizon iPhone and a AT&T iPad . I had great iPhone coverage everywhere in Grand Canyon National Park, but had no AT&T iPad 3G coverage. There was wi-fi in the lobby of Bright Angel Lodge where we were staying, but, there were so many people trying to access it at the same time, that it kept dropping. So it was very difficult to use.

This discussion got me to thinking that it was time I rang the Xanterra South Rim switchboard to get the real scoop. Here’s what I shared on TripAdvisor:

Alltel used to be the primary cell phone service provider in the Grand Canyon  area, but they were recently bought out by Verizon. Verizon actually has a tower inside the park now, so their customers typically get the best reception. All other customers can expect spotty to non-existent reception. There is wi-fi in the BA lobby, and I believe Maswik and Yavapai also have it, but as ‘sinaigirl’ indicated, it’s not 100% reliable.

Here’s a concept, folks (dare I say it!): why not give your gadgets a break? Your Grand Canyon vacation is about getting back to nature. Remember back in the day before we had iPhones, e-mail, text messaging, etc? We had to DELEGATE our work to someone else in the office, so that meant while we were on vacation, we were ON VACATION – meaning unreachable! Fancy that ;-0

’til next time, travelers – toodles!

37 Responses

  1. OK Miss ringy dingy. Let me add that about 2500 people live also at the GC screeming for good cell and internet service

  2. Unfortunately, most locations north of Flagstaff, Arizona do not have much in the way of Internet and Cell Phone coverage as the more urban area’s in the United States currently enjoy. This is because much of Northern Arizona is serviced by Microwave Communications. We DO NOT have Fiber Communications pulled to most of Northern Arizona. This will require patience with your expectations for both Cell Phone and Internet Bandwidth expectations. Sorry, I live here as well and work on GrandCanyon.com all day long in this low bandwidth situation. All I can say is, it will help you appreciate all the Bandwidth you do have when you get back home. Again, another reason to just take time to enjoy your Vacation…

    1. I agree regarding taking an electronic break. However, my husband is doing Rim to Rim to Rim. I would like to know he can communicate for help if the need should arise.

      1. Mary Ann,

        There is some spotty coverage of Cell Service on Rim-to-Rim now…especially at the upper altitudes when descending from the South Rim or ascending up to the North Rim or vice versa.

        Also, there are Ranger Stations with phones at Indian Garden, Phantom Ranch, and Cottonwood Campground along the Trail.

        I have hiked Rim to Rim 10 times now…and it has the most communication options of any trail in the Grand Canyon. Also, there are many hikers on the trail…so help is not far away at most any point in time.

        Now, he is doing Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim…that means he’ll most likely be on the trail at night and, obviously, there are not that many hikers at that time. So, he’ll have to communicate at the higher altitudes or take a Satellite phone, worst case.

        Karlyn

    2. AT&T just turned on a cell tower in Grand Canyon 3 weeks ago. AT&T is improving the coverage in Grans Canyon, and if you went there recently you see the improvement.

      1. Mark,

        To the best of my knowledge, the 5G transmission infrastructure Does NOT exist at the Grand Canyon yet.

        If you have a 5G phone that uses Satellite then Yes…that would have better coverage!

        I didn’t know there were 5G Phones that used Satellite yet…do you mind sharing what it is?

        Hikers use the Garmin Inreach’s all the time to Text out of the Grand Canyon. I just wasn’t aware of any 5G Sat Phones yet.

        Enjoy,

        Karlyn

  3. Cairn is an app that shows you exact spots of cell coverage in the wilderness through crowdsourced data. Grand Canyon is one of the places folks have mapped out some areas in. You can get Verizon and Sprint coverage at various spots on the South Rim in the Grand Canyon Village, Mather Campground, and several trails. Check out the Cairn app for latest updates.

  4. May 2016.
    Was at the South Rim this week. Cell service from best to worst:
    Verizon: Full.
    AT&T: Phone/text, full; Internet spotty (I was told).
    T-Mobile: Phone/text, roaming; Internet, rare.
    Sprint/BoostMobile: None!
    If you are staying at Bright Angel Lodge or Thunderbird, you have access to free Wi-Fi in the lobby. It can be slow at times of multiple users.
    You can purchase phone cards. US rates are 6 cents/min.
    Hope this was helpful. Enjoy.

  5. Sprint doesnt have their own servoce but you can at least make calls and send texts via roaming. Sprint roams on Verizon. Dont expect any sort of data service though.

  6. Hi All.

    After just visiting the South Rim I can give an update.

    I’m with AT&T and had absolutely zero coverage for even phone & text. People on Verizon had full phone/text/data access so that’s the way to go.

  7. AT&T does not have service in or around the GC. I also did not have service in Maine either. Don’t waste your time buying an AT&T SIM card if you are coming here from overseas.

  8. Hello all,
    I am the Telecom Specialist for NPS here at GCNP.
    There are two cell towers on Grand Canyon NP, one in the So Rim village (CenturyLink & Verizon) and one at Desert View (Commnet – at&t works well on this tower).
    A new tower was recently finished just outside park boundaries near Tusayan. Another is under construction half way to Desert View on USFS land. I do not know which carriers will be on these towers.
    There is no fiber optic cable to the park, yet. However, CenturyLink recently upgraded their microwave radio link to improve service.
    Planning & coordination for improving communication at GCNP is ongoing.

    1. According to https://opensignal.com/, there are mobile signals along various points on the South Kaibab tral. The map shows something at Ooh Aah Point, for example. We were there recently but don’t recall seeing any tower. What might these represent? Are there some type of devices or towers along the trail to relay signals down to Phantom Ranch?
      Thank you.

      1. No, there are no devices to relay signals along the trail. Due to the terrain and vegitation blockages, some places can get a signal and some cannot. Ooh Aah Point, being relatively un-obstructed may get a signal from the tower in Grand Canyon Village. Again, Verizon and AT&T will be your best signal from that tower.
        This area might also be getting a signal from the Moqui tower between GCNP and the town of Tusayan.
        When the new tower comes on-line near Grandview on USFS land, signal coverage should improve along the eastern portion of US-64.

  9. Question: I will be camping at South Rim for ten days in May. I monitor elderly parents via cell phone (they call me) four or five per day. What is my best option for continuous cell reception at top of South Rim? Purchase a short term Verison service?

    1. Hello Holly,

      First of all let me say that no matter what you do there is no guarantee of cell service at the top of the South Rim. Verizon has the most reliable service in the area. There is a cell tower in Tusayan and a cell tower in the National Park so depending on what cell company you are using you might have reasonably reliable service. Instead of your parents calling you, you might have to call them when you can find a good signal.

  10. My son is currently on a 3 week rafting trip on the river in the canyon. I’m assuming there is no way to contact him??

    1. That is correct. Except in the case of an extreme emergency there is no way to contact someone who is on the river. Even in the case of an extreme emergency it could take a day or more to contact them.

  11. FYI,

    I just got back from the Grand Canyon. I use Cricket Wireless (a subsidiary of AT&T) and I stayed at the Maswik Lodge. I had full signal bars, but I HAD NO SERVICE AT ALL. Being that Cricket Wireless uses AT&T’s network, I would caution any AT&T users of expecting any sevice.

    1. Were you on the Maswik WIFI or on your cell carrier network?

      AT&T uses the Commnet cell antennas here at Grand Canyon National Park. Sometimes these have unusual issues. When I use my AT&T phone here, it shows caller ID from Mexico. Also, all services, except Verizon, ride the same CenturyLink microwave connection out to Williams, AZ. When the bandwidth is full, your service will get limited.

  12. I volunteer at Mather campground and have Straight Talk which works in most areas at the South rim. My wife has metro pcs and it is worthless until you get near Williams.

  13. Does anyone have any experience using the Iridium satellite system from the bottom of the Grand Canyon?The reason I ask is that I will be rafting down the canyon this summer, and own a Garmin Inreach Explorer+. The Garmin Inreach Explorer+, in addition to GPS mapping, allows text messaging an emailing from anywhere on Earth via the Iridium satellite network, as long as it can communicate with the Iridium satellites. It also functions as a Personal Locator Beacon for emergencies, but again sends it’s SOS signal via the Iridium satellite system. The amount of sky obscured by the canyon walls can be substantial, so I am wondering if that’s an issue.

    1. MB,

      I can’t speak to the exact Iridium model you are referring to. However, I have a hiker friend who has used a Satellite Phone in the Grand Canyon on occasion. I also have another hiker friend who has used a Spot Tracker which lets you send out Pre-Determined text messages. Both have had success.

      The reminder/caveate I will say about both of these is OBVIOUSLY it is dependent on whether you can get the minimum 3-6 Satellites it takes to accomplish communication with these devices…just like GPS’s.

      They work as long as you are not in a narrow part of the canyon where signal can’t be completed.

      Enjoy the River!

      Karlyn

  14. I live and work in the Grand Canyon National Park. The best provider for cell service is going to be Verizon. The other people who are saying that they have AT&T and it works, I can only say show me and then I will believe it. I had to switch to Verizon after being a T-Mobile user. I miss T-Mobile. The Commnet that people are referring to does work in some areas but it is not reliable. If you find that you cannot live without Facebook or any other social media you can purchase a cheap prepaid Verizon phone and plan in Flagstaff and use it in the park. However you must remember even that is not always reliable. The tower can go down with a lot of people trying to use it.

  15. Just went to Grand Canyon and drove on south rim today on 6/21/19. Verizon has decent reception along most stops on south rim. I was able to join in to a video conference call. However AT&T had no reception, even when the phone said 3G with 3 bars. I placed calls with AT&T but the recipient never received my call even though it appeared to be ringing from my end. At the Visitor Center, neither company had reception. At the Village, the hotel (El Tavoe?) had WiFi but signal was weak. I had better luck getting hotspot with a Verizon phone.

  16. Forgot to mention I have Verizon,

    Inside of the Grand Canyon State park at the village where all the hotels are at 4G LTE super strong did hotspot to my PC and wrapped up some work.

  17. Just visited GC South Rim yesterday. Have Cricket for cell provide and no signal at all. Relatives using TMobile had spotty signal. Yes, ideally on vacation you should disconnect from devices. However, it made it tough to find each other in the park without our cell phones working. I would have brought wallow talkies if I knew I would not have cell phone signal at the park.

  18. AT&T is improving their coverage in Grand Canyon now. AT&T just built a new cell tower inside Grand Canyon, and AT&T turned on the tower about 3 weeks ago, I’m so happy now because before my phone would roam on another carrier. AT&T now has LTE service in Grand Canyon, tell me how it is now if you been in Grand Canyon recently.

  19. Hi!
    What can u say about 2020 coverage? Is it possible to send the pdf files and maybe zoom-calls with video. I have to work there and finished my distance education. Vacation without internet is great but I have to finish my courses.

    1. Sofiia,

      There is coverage in different area’s. It is good enough to carry Zoom Calls with video IF you are in the RIGHT PLACES.

      Check in with some Locals when you arrive and they can direct you to both good Cell Coverage AND some WiFi Options too!

      Enjoy,

      Karlyn

      1. Karlyn – Thank you for continuing to provide updates after almost 7 years. Wow! Looking forward to my family’s trip to the South Rim 🙂

  20. Just curious….in this blog, folks refer to Northern AZ relying on microwave & satellite (i.e. No fiber). What about traditional copper-based landlines? Wouldn’t there be copper lines running into Flagstaff?

    And if there’s copper, there could be DSL? I know, I’m old school. Lol. 🙂 But just for kicks. Thanks, Jonathan

    1. Jonathan,

      Some of us consider Northern Arizona begins at Flagstaff…I know Flagstaff would beg to differ with that. However, yes, you are correct. There is Fiber and Copper to Flagstaff…and then from there it is Microwaved to Grand Canyon Village, Tusayan, Page, Cameron, etc. and then turned into Copper at those locations. Now, since this article was published, Page has gotten Fiber from Kanab, Utah…so it’s vastly immproved in the Page area!

      To leave things on a high note, the National Park Service is about to implement a New Telecommunications Plan as you can learn that there were no objectionable findings in this article:
      https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/news/2021-1-14-telecommunications-fonsi-signed.htm

      And, on a higher, higher note…I have been able to use some of my friends Satellite Internet dishes that they just got within the last two months from Starlink…IT IS FAST FOR NORTHERN NORTHERN ARIZONA!!! 130 Mbps down/ 10 Mbps up…and the Satellites self aim, so I could take one to the North Rim, plug it in, and walla…I have High Speed Internet at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon!!! UNHEARD OF!!! https://www.starlink.com/

      Enjoy,

      Karlyn

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