When exploring the Grand Canyon and its many nearby attractions, including the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you’ll find yourself faced with a choice about where you want to stay the night. Choosing a base for your explorations can be a challenging decision, especially when you’re weighing cost against convenience, or nearby attractions against the attractions in the park.
Here’s an overview of the hotels in major cities and towns that mainly service Grand Canyon travelers, with a little bit about what it’s like to stay in each place, plus roughly how far they are from the Grand Canyon and its many natural wonders.
Grand Canyon Village is your closest option, as it’s actually located within the National Park itself. All of the hotels and other options are operated by Xanterra, a company that contracts with many National Parks. You’ll find that it’s most difficult to get reservations here, with many options booking up months or even a year in advance. Dining can also be a challenge, with certain popular restaurants being booked up to six months in advance. That said, the lodgings here are all beautiful, comfortable, and unique. It’s an unbeatable place to stay if you have the means and is well worth the cost.
Tusayan is your second-closest option, about two miles from the South Rim entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. Hotels here are all independently run – although some are chain hotels – and many offer top amenities like swimming pools, laundry facilities, and delicious restaurant options. There is also a wide variety of dining options available in town, in addition to several unique attractions like the National Geographic Visitor Center and its must-see IMAX movie. It’s also easy to reserve a number of tours or excursions through companies based in Tusayan, and a several tours depart from this town, from helicopters to guided hikes to rafting trips.
Williams is a nice option south of the Grand Canyon, a little less than an hour from the South Rim entrance to the National Park. It may also be more affordable than Tusayan or Grand Canyon Village. You’ll pass through Tusayan on your way, so you can stop to see that IMAX movie, too. Then, continue on to Grand Canyon Village for the basic introductions and to access the Rim Trail for hiking or strolling. Williams is a fairly small town itself, but serves as a very popular destination for Grand Canyon travelers due to its many amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, gift shops, and even a stop on the Grand Canyon Railway. It’s also adjacent to part of the Kaibab National Forest, making it an attraction in its own right for those interested in more natural beauties.
Flagstaff, Arizona is an excellent place for travelers to the American southwest, especially if you’re looking to save money by not staying in the Grand Canyon itself. It’s about 75 miles south of the Grand Canyon, but it’s an easy drive and you pass through some truly striking landscape along the way. Drive through ponderosa pine forest on your way to the Grand Canyon, passing through the Kaibab National Forest en route. You’ll also pass Tusayan and Grand Canyon Village, depending upon what roads you take to get up there. Flagstaff itself is a delightful town: this mountain hotspot boasts a university and an amazing dining scene, as well as proximity to many top tourist attractions, including golf courses, hiking and skiing trails, wildlife parks, a number of beautiful national monuments, and more.
Las Vegas Hotels and Resorts
Las Vegas is an excellent option for those looking to incorporate Grand Canyon explorations into a larger vacation that also includes some urban excursions. Roughly a 4 hour drive from the South Rim entrance of the National Park (and longer to the North Rim), it’s not the closest lodging choice but it is among the easiest as far as tours and excursions go. Dozens upon dozens of tours depart from Las Vegas – often with hotel pick-up – so you’ll find that you’re rarely if ever driving yourself that distance. Instead, take part in a guided tour with many stops along the way, often including visits to Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and the closer Grand Canyon West (not part of the National Park, but its own attraction with beautiful canyon views). This way, you can visit the Grand Canyon for a day or two and then still enjoy time in Last Vegas. Due to its urban location, Las Vegas may again be a bit of a pricey option.
Located about 3 hours from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and 2 hours from the North Rim, Page is an excellent choice in Northern Arizona. It’s a very budget-friendly place to stay as well. In addition to offering a large number of hotels and lodging options in town, there are also several beautiful sites to see on the drive down to the Canyon, including Lees Ferry (where a number of rafting trips depart), the historic and recently restored Lonely Dell Ranch, Jacob Lake (and its fascinating Fire Lookout Tower), and more. Arrive near Desert View Point (and the Desert View Watchtower) and Lipan Point on the South Rim or the North Rim Lookout Tower on the North Rim and you’re ready to explore!