Phantom Ranch: A Grand Canyon Oasis

Written by on August 22, 2011 in AZ Outdoor Adventures - Comments Off on Phantom Ranch: A Grand Canyon Oasis

A mile down, deep in the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch is tucked along the banks of Bright Angel Creek. It is the only lodging facility below the Canyon rim. The only way to reach the Ranch is by mule, by foot and by rafting the Colorado River and it is a popular stopping and oasis of civilization deep in the canyon.

The scenery from the Ranch is like no other. The walls of the canyon loom a mile above on each side. Bright Angel Creek itself is beautifully forested, including trees like coyote willow, western honey mesquite, catclaw acacia, and the exotic tamarisk (saltcedar). The hanging gardens, seeps and springs within the canyon often contain rare plants such as the white-flowering redbud tree.

Designed by architect Mary E.J. Colter, the Ranch was completed in 1922. The rustic cabins and main lodge are built of wood and native stone and do not intrude on the natural beauty and solitude of the setting. Overnight accommodations at Phantom Ranch consist of dormitory spaces or cabins. Cabins and dormitories are heated and cooled during the summer months.

Also popular is the Phantom Ranch Canteen where meals, beverages, and sundries are available for adventurous travelers who journey to the bottom of the Canyon. Meals MUST be reserved well in advance of your descent. Mule trips do include a lunch on the way down, steak dinner that night and a breakfast the next morning before the ride out. Hikers need to reserve meals separately and well in advance.

Once you get to Phantom Ranch, there are plenty of things to keep busy if you have the energy and time. Hiking and fishing are two of the most popular activities. Hiking trails meander throughout the river bottoms and include great hikes like the River Loop, Clear Creek/Phantom Overlook and Ribbon Falls. Fishing in the Colorado River requires a current Arizona state fishing license with a Trout Stamp.

The great depth of the Grand Canyon produces a variety of conditions between the South Rim and Phantom Ranch. Temperatures usually vary by 20ºF or even as much as 40 ºF between the top and the bottom. Phantom Ranch visitors must be prepared for these changes. Night also comes to the canyon, as the walls block to sun early, but no site is more moving than watching the sun glow along the tops of the canyon walls while the insects and frogs tune up for the nightly serenade.

Reservations are a must for Phantom Ranch, which is often booked months, or even years in advance. A National Park Service campground is also located nearby and requires a backcountry permit. A backcountry permit is NOT required for people staying in Phantom Ranch dorms or cabins.

More stories in the Grand Canyon Series include:

Formation of the Grand Canyon
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Inhabitants of the Grand Canyon
River Rafting the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Condors Make a Comeback in the Grand Canyon
Top 10 Things To Do at the Grand Canyon
Legend of Egyptian Artifacts in the Grand Canyon
The Ghost of Crash Canyon
Phantom Ranch at the Grand Canyon

For more information, you can visit the following sites.

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