The magnificent views at Thunderbird Lodge are the first thing everyone mentions when they talk about this hotel. Its proximity to the Canyon Rim is delightful, as is the ease with which guests can access the Rim Trail and the many other attractions within Grand Canyon Village itself. Rooms are modest and comfortable, offering the basic amenities one needs for a vacation filled with outdoors adventure. Overall, it’s a great middle ground as far as the rim-side lodgings go, offering more amenities than Bright Angel Lodge, without the luxury price tag of El Tovar.
Thunderbird Lodge Ambiance
Situated in the heart of the Grand Canyon Village historic district, Thunderbird Lodge is a popular destination for those looking for a contemporary, yet comfortable place to stay. It was constructed in the late 1960s and has been renovated periodically since then, creating a modern aesthetic that doesn’t lose any of its cultural charm. Thunderbird Lodge is also entirely residential, making for quieter stay than perhaps some other lodging in the area.
The big appeal of Thunderbird is its proximity to the edge of the Grand Canyon. In fact, it’s just steps from the Rim Trail, a well-regarded and easy path that runs along the Canyon’s edge for about 12 miles. Visitors can hike in either direction, and easily reach additional landmarks and attractions like the Yavapai Geology Museum or the Trail View Overlook. Thunderbird Lodge is also quite near to the start of the Bright Angel Trail Head, a more challenging trail that the active guests will enjoy.
Thunderbird Lodge Rooms
Because most of the rooms are comparable in size and amenities, there are only two basic types of rooms to choose from: partial canyon views, and street views. Previous guests can’t recommend partial canyon views enough; even though they aren’t a complete unobstructed view of the Canyon (which is due entirely to perspective and distance, not construction), it’s still an amazing site to see. Tip: if you really want the best views, request a second floor room!
Rooms are also available with one king bed or two queen beds. Otherwise, all rooms contain a handy Keurig coffee maker, flat-screen TVs, and all the basics like telephones and hair dryers. Rooms also include valuable assets like refrigerators, which can help early risers looking to maximize their time at the Grand Canyon by breakfasting in their room. Bathrooms are clean and modern, offering all of the essentials to guests like shampoo and conditioners. Guests who’ve forgotten anything can pop into a nearby gift shop without too much trouble.
The overall aesthetic of the rooms, as you might expect, is influenced by Southwestern culture and design. Beautifully painted brick forms one wall, while a chic blue accent wall frames the beds. Furniture feels sleek and modern, as does the artwork, the bulk of which is comprised of large-scale photographs of the Grand Canyon and other local vistas. Bedding is fresh and fluffy, predominantly white with a few blue accents (matching the wall, of course).
Thunderbird Lodge Amenities
Unlike some of the other properties in Grand Canyon Village, there is no registration desk (or lobby), gift shop, or dining facilities at Thunderbird Lodge. Those services are provided next door at the Bright Angel Lodge (where guests check in if they are staying at Thunderbird), and El Tovar. Due to the proximity of Thunderbird to all of the other lodgings, however, this isn’t any inconvenience – you’re just steps from all of the necessities.
As far as dining goes, visitors have many options. Guests frequently recommend the dining room at El Tovar, but reservations are a must during the busy seasons of spring and summer. Bright Angel Lodge also offers a delicious complimentary breakfast for another dining option, as well as lunch and dinner, at their Harvey House Café. The most popular dining, however, is the Arizona Room (also located in the Bright Angel complex), which offers both lunch and dinner menus. There’s even the Bright Angel Bar, offering drink options throughout the day and evening.
Parking is very limited in the immediate vicinity of Thunderbird Lodge, so guests are recommended to limit the use of their car and instead, take advantage of the Park’s excellent shuttle bus system.
Grand Canyon Village Neighborhood
Thunderbird Lodge is located in the heart of Grand Canyon Village. Nestled between Bright Angel Lodge and Kachina Lodge directly on the Canyon’s Rim, it’s perfectly situated for sightseeing as well as after hours relaxing. Thunderbird is also located within easy walking distance of a number of attractions, including a Visitor Center, the beautiful Kolb Studio (an excellent bookstore / gift shop), the historic Lookout Studio, and the Grand Canyon Railway. It’s also within 3 or so miles of the popular Mather Point.
Other lodging options in Grand Canyon Village include Maswik Lodge (a bit further back from the edge), the gorgeous El Tovar, as well as the aforementioned Bright Angel Lodge and Kachina Lodge (which is very similar to Thunderbird in terms of style and amenities).