Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)

Review: Mather Campground-Grand Canyon


V. and I recently visited the Grand Canyon. When we started planning our trip months ago I looked into lodging in the area around the Grand Canyon and within the park itself. Much to our dismay, prices were astronomical (on our budget anyway). The closest hostels I could find were in Flagstaff, over an hour away from the park entrance, and at over $50 per night with shared bathrooms, we weren’t to keen on the idea. The lodges in the park (El Tovar, Bright Angel, etc), while beautiful and very conveniently located (I’m talking about steps from the rim here and very near the Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Village) were just too expensive. On top of all that, I wanted to really experience the canyon.

Mather Campground was the perfect fit. The 327-site Mather Campground is located on the South Rim and within Grand Canyon Village. It  is only a few minutes walk  from the Visitor Center and Market Plaza and is the only campground located on the South Rim.

At only $18 per night, Mather was a steal. Each campsite features room for up to 3 tents, a parking spot, fire ring with cooking grate and a picnic table.

Campsite #295

V. setting up our tent

Our site, #295, was great. It was in a quiet location away from the road, close (but not too close) to the flush-toilet restrooms, it had plenty of shade, and offered more than enough room for our tent and car. Even with the large number of campers around, we had no problems leaving our tent unattended while we explored the park during the day.

Items to note:

  • Mather is open for reservations from approximately late-March thru mid-November. During the winter months you cannot make reservations, the sites are first-come, first-served.
  • Campers must check-in at the main building (to the right, just as you enter the campground) before setting up at their site. If you will be arriving late, you must call (928)638-7851 to avoid being “no showed.”
  • Gathering firewood is strictly prohibited. It is sold at Market Plaza but is quite expensive at $7.99 a bundle. We brought our own from home. 4 bundles was perfect for our 2 night stay.
  • The ground at the campsites is relatively uneven and rocky.  We used an air mattress and slept quite comfortably. You could probably get away with just a sleeping pad, however, depending on the site you get.
  • There are showers and a laundromat located near the campground entrance (to the right of the check-in building). Showers are split into Mens/Womens facilities and are coin operated. The cost is $2.00 for 8 minutes. Quarters can be obtained from the cashier’s desk, but it might be smart just to bring a roll of quarters with you. The shower stalls themselves were private, clean, and offered a small, dry area with a hook and bench where you can undress and set your things down.
  • Quiet time is from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am. Even with the large number of campsites, we did not find noise to be a problem at all.
  • BEWARE OF THE RAVENS! This is not an idol warning! They won’t bother you while you are at the campsite, but as soon as you leave they will make their move.  They are HUGE and will literally rip open plastic and metal containers to get at the food inside. Water containers aren’t even safe. Storing food inside your vehicle is recommended.
  • If you hang anything such as a hammock or laundry line, be sure to remove it before leaving your campsite, even for just the day. Elk and deer get tangled in the lines so Park Rangers can and will cut your ropes if you leave them up when you aren’t there.
  • There are fresh water spouts and dishwashing stations located near each set of restrooms.
  • Market Plaza (a few minutes walk from Mather) features a large General Store, restaurants, gift shops, and much more.
  • Also available are trailer/RVsites, group sites (up to 50 people), horse/livestock sites, and backpacker/biker (no car) sites.
  • There is a great park shuttle service servicing much of the South Rim. You can leave your vehicle at your campsite and walk over to the nearby Visitor Center to catch one.

Reservations are easy to make and are highly recommended-especially during the busy summer months.

Address:    Mather Campground (AZ)
P.O Box 129
Grand Canyon AZ 86023

We enjoyed our stay immensely and highly recommend Mather Campground to anyone looking for an affordable and unique alternative to the expensive park lodges.

Happy planning!


*I wrote this review because I found information on Mather to be limited and a lot of my questions were left unanswered until I actually camped at the site myself. The information above is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of our stay in September 2010. If there are any discrepancies, please let me know!


2 thoughts on “Review: Mather Campground-Grand Canyon

  1. If we have an open air Jeep, how will we store our food? Any suggestions? Doesn’t Mather provide metal food lockers? In Tahoe they provide what they call Bear proof lockers on every site and they worked well. Any suggestions about food storage would be appreciated. I was planning on bungie cording our coolers.

    • I do not believe they provide any sort of containers/metal lockers. I am sure if your food is well secured and bungeed, then you will be fine. People just tend to underestimate the ravens and it usually ends poorly! We saw them chewing (pecking? can birds chew?!) through plastic tupperware type containers. So I think if you keep it in Rubbermaid type carriers, bungeed, in your Jeep, you should be fine. But if you are worried I’d call the Parks Service and check into whether or not they can provide you something. As long as you are conscious of the ravens and take precautions, I am sure you will be fine.

      Enjoy the park and Mather. They are amazing!

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