Phantom Ranch at Grand Canyon National Park – One of the Hardest Reservations to Get!
[Los Angeles, CA, Nov 9, 2017]
In exactly two weeks, I am heading to the Grand Canyon with my friends Olivia and Laura. It will be my first time there, which is a shame considering I’ve been living so close to it for the past eight years.
One of the best – and therefore, most popular – ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to go all the way to the bottom and spend a couple of days there before coming back up to the rim. You can get down on foot, with a mule or by rafting the Colorado river but regardless, accommodations at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are hard to come by because you have only one option – Phantom Ranch. It was built in 1922 and it offers two types of accommodations – dormitories and cabins. The dormitories are available for hikers only and are split by gender, so you have to know whom you will be traveling with before you make a reservation. You’ll be sharing a restroom and a shower with 4 other bunkmates. The cabins vary in size but sleep 2 to 10 people. Shared bathrooms and showers are in a central location outside of the cabins.
The existing reservation system, which is in effect until the end of the year, is by phone. You have to dial in on the 1st of the month to reserve for that month the following year. If your stay went into the next month, say, end of November to beginning of December, you’d call in on Nov 1. Some people would use this to reserve their desired month a month early. You could call on Nov 1 and reserve end of November through beginning of December (dates had to be contiguous), then call later to cancel the November dates. This way you reserved December dates before everyone else calling in on Dec 1. Additional frustration and confusion resulted by the fact that while the ranch itself is in Arizona, which does not observe Daylight Savings Time, the reservation office is in Denver, CO, which does. I can personally attest to the frustrations of using this reservation system. On my birthday last year, sitting in my car on my way to my morning run, I tried to dial in for 20 minutes, only to get a busy line. I finally got through and was able to reserve what I needed, but I am sure many were not so lucky, as the entire month tends to sell out in a couple of hours. A new lottery system is already in place for reservations starting January 2019. The lottery will assign bed space randomly, meaning you cannot choose whether you’ll get a cabin or a dorm. You will have to submit 15 months in advance (for example, for a stay in January 2019, you’d have to submit from Nov 1 to Nov 25, 2017), with notifications happening the following month (December 2017 in this example). Any availability remaining after the lottery will be available to the general public the month after (January 2018 in this example). There is a helpful grid to help you plan at the lottery link above.
If you want to stay at Phantom Ranch any time soon, better start planning now!