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How To: Camping at Mather Campground, Grand Canyon National Park

For many travelers, camping at Arizona’s Grand Canyon means making a reservation at Mather Campground.

It’s a popular spot due to its proximity to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. If the area is on your adventure bucket list, this is a remarkable place to stay.

Today, we’re sharing what you need to know about this popular spot.

Let’s get started!

Wide sunset view of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Taken at the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Check Out Mather Campground in Arizona

Mather Campground sits near the South Rim in Grand Canyon Village, Arizona. Guests love the natural environment and how the massive ponderosa pines shade many sites. Only a mile from the rim, it’s easy to visit the gorge during sunrise and sunset.

Numerous overlooks are available when walking or biking on the greenway to the visitor center. This pet-friendly path runs for 13 miles and offers some of the world’s most stunning scenic views. They constantly change and are spectacular from every angle. For a more intense workout, Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails are just a short bus ride away.

Wildlife frequently makes an appearance throughout the area. Common sightings include elk, mule deer, coyotes, and lizards. However, keep your eyes on the skies for the majestic and endangered California condor. You can often see them soaring thousands of feet overhead.

Campground Details

Mather Campground is a year-round camping facility within Grand Canyon National Park. Its 327 sites, which include 55 tent-only zones, make it the largest one managed by the National Park Service (NPS). Each spot has a cooking grate and picnic table.

If you’re coming in an RV, you’ll want to know that it has a length restriction of 30 feet. In addition, you won’t find power, water, or sewer hookups. If you need more space or amenities, Trailer Village is next door and offers both.

Unfortunately, like the other camping options at the Grand Canyon, sites go very quickly here. Officials recommend reservations during the peak season, which is March 1 to November 30. They have 15 first-come, first-served spots, which usually fill up before lunchtime.

Pro Tip: Make your reservations for Mather Campground far in advance.

About Grand Canyon National Park

In Northwestern Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park contains two units, north and south. Most guests go to the South Rim, but together, they welcome nearly five million visitors each year. They come by the busload to marvel at the stunning landscape and rock formations.

During your trip, take the chance to participate in ranger programs, hike a trail, or take a guided tour. If you’re feeling adventurous, ride a mule to the bottom or battle the Colorado River while whitewater rafting.

Taking Desert View Drive is an excellent way to see everything from the comfort of your car. This 23-mile scenic road features six lookout points, four picnic areas, five unmarked pullouts, and access to the Tusayan Pueblo Site.

Even if you’re not camping, a trip to the Grand Canyon is worth it. The sights here will take your breath away, whether it’s your first trip or your 50th.

Can’t get into Mather? You can find six more campgrounds in the 7 Best Grand Canyon RV Parks (with YouTube Video Tours).

Grand Canyon History and Culture

Scientists believe the Grand Canyon began forming five to six million years ago. For nearly 12,000 years, it’s played a significant role in indigenous culture, especially among the Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, and Navajo nations.

They’ve used these sacred lands to tell creation stories and hold traditional ceremonies for generations. The unique geological features are a deep part of their practices and beliefs.

Congress passed legislation in 1919 to designate it as a national park. This stripped practically all of the ancestral land away from the Havasupai people. Thankfully, a large chunk of land was returned to them in 1975 after media organizations shared the story.

Much of the local economy depends on tourism. Sadly, the tremendous influx of visitors over the last several decades has had a significant impact on the environment. As a result, federal officials limit river and helicopter trips.

Here are 7 Free Things to Do at the Grand Canyon National Park

When Is the Best Time to Stay at Mather Campground?

Like many others in Arizona, Mather Campground is open year-round. However, because it sits at 7,000 feet, the weather varies considerably from one season to the next. As a result, you’ll want to plan your trip wisely.

Typically, summer is the best time to visit. During the day, temperatures are usually around 80 degrees, with lows in the 40s and 50s overnight. 

Of course, this is also the peak of tourist season. If you choose to explore over the summer, don’t expect to have the place to yourself.

It can be easier to snag a site in spring and fall, but the weather may not cooperate. Overnight temperatures start dipping below freezing in October and stay that way until May. So, while it’s possible to go camping at the Grand Canyon, it takes some planning.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, winter is the worst season to visit Arizona’s Mather Campground. Temperatures can dive below 20 degrees overnight. In addition, ice and snow can blanket the area. On average, the South Rim receives 58” annually. If you’re not prepared, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation.

Fun Things To Do Near Mather Campground

You’ll need to fill your schedule during your camping trip to the Grand Canyon. Luckily, you’ll find a few great activities for all ages. Here are our top picks for the whole family.

Hike the Grand Canyon Rim Trail

One fun option is to hike as much of the Rim Trail as you can. It’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy various views without navigating switchbacks. Don’t rush through it. Instead, allow yourself to soak it all in.

Once you’re tired, stop at any shuttle stop. These buses will help you finish the route and then haul you back to where you started. They run in 15-minute cycles, beginning an hour before sunrise and ending an hour after sunset.

Grand Canyon south rim above Colorado River and tree, near Mather Campground.

Catch a Show at the Grand Canyon IMAX Theater

To cool down after your hike, hit the IMAX theater to watch the award-winning 35-minute film Grand Canyon: Rivers of Time. They use laser technology to display on the six-story screen. The flick combines history, science, and mythology to capture the story of this geological marvel.

You’ll learn about the lives of the area’s early civilizations and how things changed when Spanish conquistadors discovered the region. One highlight is a trip down the Colorado River with none other than John Wesley Powell.

Grand Canyon Pink Jeep Tours

You can spot the Grand Canyon Pink Jeep Tours from a mile away. These are great adventures that all ages will enjoy. Climb inside these adorable vehicles and explore some of the best viewpoints. Their expert guides will enhance your experience by sharing facts about its history and geology.

They offer a variety of tours that last two to three hours. No matter which one you choose, you can see the park in a new and exciting way.

Explore more with Along the Rim: A Guide to Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Get Down to Earth in Arizona

Arizona is full of excellent places to stay, but Mather Campground is near the top of the list. Maximize your time exploring the Grand Canyon by camping as close as possible. Whether you travel down to the bottom or not, you’re in for an epic adventure.

There’s so much to see and do, and nowhere else on Earth is quite like it!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

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