Among the most beautiful and the most historic of the Grand Canyoodging options, Bright Angel Lodge offers a rare opportunity for a rustic stay at the Canyon’s edge. Designed by Mary J. Colter in the early 1930s, this magnificent lodge hasn’t lost its historic charm or visual appeal. Today it attracts visitors interested in staying in close proximity to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon who are also looking for a low-key camping-style vibe – without the hassle of an actual campground.
Bright Angel Lodge Ambiance
Bright Angel Lodge is steeped in history. What stands today as the modern Bright Angel Lodge was originally designed by the famed local architect Mary J. Colter, who was also responsible for a number of other famous buildings in the area, like the Desert View Watchtower. The site of its construction was once, however, home to a hotel, a camp, and several iconic cabins, all of which were constructed as the result of increased traffic to the area following the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad Company in 1901. The company asked Colter to redesign the lodge for modern purposes in the 1930s, and her vision is what stands before you today.
A delightfully historic lodge with affiliated cabins and other rooms, Bright Angel is the epitome of early twentieth century rustic architecture, offering log-cabin style exteriors and gorgeous stone fireplaces on the interior. The lodging buildings themselves are modest in size (as was the custom when they were designed), but the accommodations feel comfortably historic rather than dated. Travelers looking for modern amenities might want to look elsewhere, however, as Bright Angel truly embraces a more cozy and traditional feel as opposed to contemporary hotel vibes.
Bright Angel Lodge Rooms
There are two basic options for lodging at Bright Angel – rustic cabins and lodge rooms. Despite the name, the cabins are the more modern of the two, featuring amenities such as an in-room Keurig coffee maker and satellite TV. The cabins are also the only option that features private bathrooms, which some may find to be a deciding factor. Bathrooms are large and modern, with all the basic amenities. These cabins are modest in size and general only have one bed – often a double bed.
The lodge rooms contain all the essentials with no frills – a telephone and a refrigerator are the most significant. These rooms share a bathroom with other lodge rooms, so if privacy is a concern then the rustic cabins may be worth the extra fees (which are very modest – your issue will be availability, not price). Guests are advised to be sure to bring their own toiletries. These rooms also predominantly have only one double bed.
Décor in both types of rooms is fairly spare, with warm curtains, charming artwork, and colorful bedspreads to brighten up the space. Furniture is all a welcoming wood, including a desk and a couple of chairs in addition to the bed. The rooms themselves both tend to feel cabin-esque, with a painted wood interior and sloping ceilings. Canyon views from both types of rooms are available but are very limited – guest relations makes a point of saying Canyon views can never be guaranteed, so don’t expect to be able to reserve that essential perspective.
A third option is the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, a luxury cabin with very limited availability. Built in the 1890s by a member of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, it was rehabilitated by Colter and brought to be part of the modern lodge as a guest cabin in the 1930s. It has been updated a bit since then, but still retains its historic charm. Today the Buckey O’Neill Cabin is an intimate, well-appointed cabin with beautiful décor.
Last but not least is the Red Horse Cabin. Moved from the Red Horse Ranch in 1902 to serve as guest quarters. It functioned as a post office for a while in the early part of the century, but was subsequently was scheduled for demolition in the building boom of the 1930s before Colter advocated for its revival as a guest space. It was only recently remodeled in 2012 to serve as modern guest quarters, so it’s actually among the most contemporary accommodations in the entire park.
Both the Buckey O’Neill Cabin and the Red Horse Cabin have extremely limited availability (as you might imagine) and can only be reserved over the phone.
Bright Angel Lodge Amenities
Unlike some of the other lodging options in Grand Canyon Village, Bright Angel Lodge offers several of its own dining options, a gift shop, and a lobby area. There’s also the Bright Angel History Room, where guests can learn about the historic building’s history and the heritage of the many other structures that have been brought to comprise the modern Bright Angel Lodge configuration.
Dining options are plentiful and diverse. The Harvey House Café is the Lodge’s basic dining room, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare that spans the gamut from home-style southern cooking to Mexican to burgers. Guests will find the prices and portions very reasonable at this venue. There’s also the Canyon Coffee House, which is a great option for mornings on the go.
The most popular dining option at Bright Angel by far is the Arizona Room. Specializing in cuisine of the American Southwest, this venue serves sumptuous lunch and dinner. Reservations are not available, so be aware that planning for dinner here can often come down to timing. For those looking for a cold beverage, there’s also the Bright Angel Bar, open from mid-afternoon to late in the evening. The lounge (located within the Arizona Room) also occasionally features live music!
Parking in the immediate vicinity of Bright Angel Lodge can be a challenge (as it is all throughout Grand Canyon Village), so visitors are advised to park the car and leave it for the duration of their trip, opting instead to use the Park’s efficient and convenient shuttle system to get around.
Is it a Deal?
The Bright Angel Lodge was originally re-worked to serve as a less expensive place to stay in contrast to the more luxurious El Tovar. To that extent is has done well. Grand Canyon Deals thinks it’s the best value in the Grand Canyon Village.
Perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon on the Western side of Grand Canyon Village, Bright Angel Lodge couldn’t be more conveniently located for sightseeing in and around the Grand Canyon. It’s in close proximity to several other hotels, including Thunderbird Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and the historic El Tovar, as well as the budget-friendly Maswik Lodge (located slightly further back from the Rim).
There are also a number of attractions in and around town for visitors to explore. Bright Angel Trailhead (actually named for the lodge!) is found right nearby, and access to the Rim Trail is also convenient. From Bright Angel, visitors can stroll the Rim Trail in either direction, hitting landmarks like Mather Point, Yavapai Geology Museum, and the Trail View overlook. In Grand Canyon Village itself, guests can also easily reach the Grand Canyon Railway, the Kolb Studio bookstore and art gallery, the historic Lookout Studio and Hopi House, and the Visitor Center.