My husband, one of our daughters and I spent two nights at Phantom Ranch last week. We had tried, off and on, for five years to get a reservation (not during the summer or very cold months). In March 2013, I was able to get two female dorm beds and one male dorm bed for Feb 2014. We got on a waiting list at the Bright Angel Lodge Transportation desk the day before our first night and were able to get a 10 X 12 private cabin. We had to be waitlisted for our second night, as well.
The cabin had two sets of bunk beds (brand new mattresses - very comfortable), a small sink, side table, two wooden chairs and a toilet (enclosed by a door). Cramped but we were glad to have our own space. We had our showers in the shower house.. There is an A/C - heating unit right beside one of the top bunk beds. We didn't need any heat/a/c as it was 78 degrees during the day but got cooler at night.
We came down the South Kaibab Trail in four hours, 10 minutes. We kept encountering hikers at Phantom Ranch who had used the Bright Angel Trail to come down - there were countless tales about the terrifying ice (on Feb 12/13). One hiker, Tom, had been hiking for 40 years and said that his hike had been the only time that he had been so close to dying. Many hikers had come down on their rear ends - but they had not had crampons or poles.
By the time we hiked up the Bright Angel Trail on Feb 14 (5 hours and 15 minutes), the bad part of the ice had been reduced from 1 1/2 miles to a 1/4 of a mile. We were very glad we had yak tracks/poles. We could not believe the amount of day hikers who were coming down on it wearing only simple running shoes and clutching the side of the canyon walls. When we were a little bit below them (as we hiked up), we say them walking on the outside bordering rocks (the only spots, at times, where there was no ice). Beside the rocks, there was 50 feet of snowy slopes, but - beyond that, there was a sheer drop. These people had no idea how dangerous that was. (we kept telling them to be extremely careful and that yak traks were really needed).
The wait staff (Hayley, Amy, Naomi and the very informative guy from the Bronx) at the lodge were extremely competent and helpful. We had stew the first night (6:30 p.m.) and steak the next (5:00 p.m.) The breakfasts were scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, coffee, OJ and peaches. Our day down there, we hiked to Ribbon Falls - we were able to cross the river coming back, in order to skip a large climb. (our quads and IT Band were hurting from the day before). After we had gone over the bridge closest to the lodge, I saw a bobcat on the trail, 50 yards ahead of us. It darted off as soon as it saw us. (I reported this to the ranger (not the friendliest guy) when we got back. He said that there had been recent sightings of a bobcat around Phantom Ranch.
We loved talking with the other hikers - anyone who hikes down there, really wants to be there and they were all like-minded people! My husband and I loved the solitude but our seventeen year old daughter felt a little cut off from civilization! (no texting, internet or being able to watch the Olympics!) You can sign out hiking/map/nature books in the Ranger's Station. The Ranger talks don't begin again until March.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Phantom Ranch is a historic oasis nestled at the bottom of Grand Canyon. It is on the north side of the Colorado River tucked in beside Bright Angel Creek. Phantom is the only lodging below the canyon rim. The Ranch can only be reached by mule, by foot or by rafting the Colorado River. Overnight accommodations at Phantom Ranch consist of dormitory spaces and cabins. Cabins and dormitories are heated in winter and cooled during the summer months. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Phantom Ranch Hotel Grand Canyon National Park
- Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon
- Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch