Grand Canyon South Rim Lodging: the Fantasy and the Reality

Imagine sitting on a hotel balcony at Grand Canyon South Rim sipping your favorite beverage. Before you in all its glory gapes the one and only Grand Canyon! All this beauty is making you hungry, so you leave behind your lovely Grand Canyon view and adjourn to your room and cook a little something in your room’s kitchen. Quesadillas, some huevos rancheros, maybe warm up the leftovers from that huge Navajo Taco you got at the Cameron Trading Post. Victuals in hand, you return to your seat on your lovely balcony and lose yourself once again in your lovely Grand Canyon view.  And then –  you wake up!!!

Sorry, folks, but this Grand Canyon vacation scene will only happen in your dreams.

Alphonse Karr was a French journalist, novelist and all-around smart alec who lived in the 19th century. Alphonse Karr is also a popular variety of non-invasive clumping bamboo, but I digress. The former Mr. Karr is who I want to bring up: he’s the guy who’s widely credited for saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” What does that have to do with the price of eggs, much less the Grand Canyon?  It means that in this day and age of information overload and ultra-connectedness, where there are no secrets or unknowns about pretty much anything, so many misconceptions still abound about the Grand Canyon, especially when it comes to Grand Canyon hotels.

Case in point: the frequency with which folks still ask “how can I get a room with a view of the Grand Canyon – oh and with a kitchen too?” We’re discussing that very thing right now on TripAdvisor. Take a look:

TripAdvisor Grand Canyon Forum: Grand Canyon Lodging Choices 

Now back in the day when we all thought the Georgia Satellites were going to be the next big thing in rock-n-roll,  I actually had the privilege and pleasure of working as a desk clerk of the world famous Grand Canyon hotel, the El Tovar. If I had a dime for every time I was asked “does my room have a view?” I’d be rich. And if I had a quarter for every time I had to say “no,” I’d be even richer. On a quiet snowy day in December, for giggles and grins I added up all the rooms at all the hotels in Grand Canyon South Rim: El Tovar, Kachina, Thunderbird, Bright Angel, Maswik Yavapai. All put together there are just over 900 rooms in the park at Grand Canyon South Rim. And of those 900+ rooms a mere 6% might – not will, but might – have a Grand Canyon view. And of that mere 6% a …. mere-er (no I don’t know whether that’s an actual word)… 4 rooms… yes people, not 4 hotels, 4 rooms are guaranteed to have a Grand Canyon view! That’s it and that’s all!  And yet the traveling public assumed that getting a room with a view wouldn’t be a problem – that was back in the day when we relied on *gads* newspapers, magazines, radio and TV for our information, people!

In fact a post I wrote on this very subject on TripAdvisor a few years back was so well-received it was “promoted” to the list of “Top Questions to Ask About the Grand Canyon.”

TripAdvisor.com: “How can I get a Grand Canyon hotel room with a view?”

Here’s the facts, folks: a room with a view is very hard to come by. Even those rooms that might have a bit of a view aren’t guaranteed of such since one man’s panorama is another man’s postage stamp. Trees, shrubs and other obstructions might block your view slightly too. But here’s the thing: if you’re hanging out in your hotel room during the daylight hours on your Grand Canyon vacation, ‘Houston, we have a problem!’ The whole point of visiting the Grand Canyon – or any National Park for that matter – is to enjoy the treasures that lie outdoors, not the indoors. Your hotel room should just be a place to lay your head after a fulfilling and exciting day of sightseeing. If you happen to be fortunate enough to score rooms at one of the park’s venerated Historic Landmarks, like the El Tovar or Bright Angel, consider yourself lucky, because you are. But if you’re expecting the Four Seasons, here again, you’ve bought into someone else’s myth and not reality.

Oh, almost forgot about kitchens. Grand Canyon South Rim hotels have mini-fridges but no microwaves. Most Tusayan/Grand Canyon Village South hotels have both mini-fridges and microwaves; some will allow you to ‘rent’ these items for a nominal fee. But if it’s a full kitchen/kitchenette you want/need, you’ll have to stay in Flagstaff, which is about 90 minutes South of the park. Seriously, unless you have very strict dietary needs, food allergies, etc. that would make utilizing the on-site dining facilities problematic, having a kitchen should be very low on your priority list. Highest priority: being as close to the Grand Canyon as you can.

Here’s a video that discusses all Grand Canyon South Rim lodging options both in and out of park:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.