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The closest you can stay to the rim of the Grand Canyon
Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins (Grand Canyon, USA)
Member Name: catsholiday
Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins (Grand Canyon, USA)
Date: 14/11/11, updated on 14/11/11 (57 review reads)
Advantages: Closest lodge, clean and comfortable rooms
Disadvantages: Food expensive and average, dated rooms
WHY CHOOSE BRIGHT ANGEL?
There are few options for places to stay within the Grand Canyon National Park and this is situated in the prime location for some of the best views of the South Point which is one of the most popular spot to view the Grand Canyon. This lodge is also the oldest of those available. We have stayed at the Bright Angel twice in the last few years and not a lot has changed in that time except the price.
I have mentioned that Bright Angel is the oldest accommodation within the Grand Canyon National Park and was the only place at one time. It was designed by the architect Mary E.J. Colter in 1935 and has a distinctly rustic cabin look; it is now a registered National Historic Landmark.
The first time we stayed here we had one of the rustic cabins which gave us comfortable basic comfort with an ensuite shower room and toilet. The bed was comfortable and the furnishings suitably rustic looking and functional.
The second and more recent time we stayed we had two double rooms in the Lodge. When we arrived the rooms were not quite ready so we went into the bar and enjoyed a coffee and a snack. After this one room was ready so we brought all our stuff into that room before we headed out for a walk to explore the area a little.
I have said that this lodge is in a perfect location and indeed it is right on the rim of the canyon. We could walk out of the main door walk ten paces and we were at the rim so you can't get closer than that. We chose this because we knew it was close to the rim and at 4.30 am when you get up to watch the sunrise the less far you have to travel the better.
This is a popular place to stay and you have to book through Xanterra which seems to be the company that operates all the National Park accommodation. We booked almost a year before hand in both cases but my son who joined us only booked a few weeks before and he could only get accommodation at Yavapai Lodge which is probably because it is the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges' largest accommodation . It is a very attractive setting surrounded by Pinyon and Juniper woodlands and is about 1/2 mile from the rim.
The lodge has a number of rooms, some family rooms, some double and others have multiple beds. Some have ensuite bathrooms while others share communal bathrooms down the corridor. We chose two rooms with ensuite bathrooms as we are at that certain age when we may need the toilet during the night. The difference in price was about $10 per room which we felt was worth the price.
Room one had a good sized double bed, wardrobe, desk unit but neither room had TV nor did they have tea or coffee making equipment . You were told that you were NOT to cook in the rooms but we felt that we could use our kettle to make a cup of tea without causing too much of a problem
The ensuite in room one had a shower unit, basin and toilet that were all nice and clean and perfectly functional.
The second room was larger and had a view to the side of the lodge, not the rim sadly but those rooms were quite a lot more money per night and we didn't really feel it was worth the extra money as we could walk out and see the Canyon very easily. The bed was very comfortable and we had a bedside light on one side of the bed as well as a bedside table.
This room had a larger ensuite with a bath and shower over this. My daughter very kindly gave us this room as I do love my bath and they are happy with the shower.
Neither room was that of a luxury hotel. They were basic, functional and clean but rather dated or rustic if you are being kind. You would not choose to stay here for the room, the facilities nor indeed the food which we found distinctly average in everything but price. You stya here to see the Grand Canyon and because it is the closest place you can stay to the rim and because it is a Historically interesting building.
The snack lunch and coffee we had near the bar was what I would describe as functional eating. There was nothing specifically wrong with anything but it was ordinary and boring. I believe we had nachos and coffee.
The restaurant was large and pretty fully booked which is not surprising as it is the onky place to eat at Bright Angel if you want a proper meal. We booked to go in quite late as we were waiting to hear from my son and partner who were flying in from Toronto to Las Vegas and driving to the Grand Canyon to join us for the night. Think they finally arrived at about 9pm having seen the sunset on the way in and then they checked in to Yavapai lodge then came to join us for a meal.
We wanted it to be special as we hadn't seen my son since he let in February to go to Toronto and prior to that he had been in Australia for a year. We had a table for six and settled to choose our food.
We had a pretty good choice of dishes from salmon through to steak via various salads, pasta dishes and other meat dishes such as pork loin. We were all quite starving and ate everything but nothing really said ' wow' and it was served in a fairly ordinary way, a bit like a home cooked dinner. Once again there was nothing wrong with anything but it was a pretty expensive meal by American standards and just didn't really offer anything to justify the price tag. We found the same when we were in Yellowstone National Park where the accommodation is also run by Xanterra.
My feeling is that Xanterra have a monopoly and that because their accommodation is within the National Parks they will always be full with no competition. The accommodation has been basic and functional but at the same price as we paid for far nicer places outside the National Parks. I think they are resting on their laurels somewhat and make little effort to offer decent food because people have nowhere else to go so they have to eat there. Little effort has been made to update the accommodation either but it is clean and the beds were comfortable so I have no major complaints there.
I would say if you are visiting any of the large National Parks in the USA book well in advance and don't expect bargain prices or luxury accommodation. The accommodation is somewhere basic to stay while you experience the wonders of the park it is not somewhere to stay to experience the accommodation.
If you are planning a visit in the US summer break then be prepared for crowds. When we were at the Grand Canyon in August it was really crowded, there were cars at every car park and crowds at the viewing points. We had to queue to check in and out and getting food was a nightmare. This time we were there in June and although the lodge was pretty full and there were still plenty of people around the place somehow it seemed calmer. We were able to walk along the rim by the Bright Angel without dodging children with ice creams.
BEYOND THE LODGE
When we walked to Yavapai lodge we walked across the railway track and a wonderful old steam train had just arrived depositing hundreds of people who had come on a day trip. There were also many coaches full of day tourists but by about 5pm most of the coaches had long gone and the train left at about 3pm so the place really emptied out.
The walk to Yavapai from Bright Angel takes you through the pine forest on paved paths and is about half a mile. There is a shop at Yavapai where you can buy souvenirs, food, snacks , clothes and beer. They have cottoned on to the tourist market and made a 'Grand Canyon' beer so naturally we had to buy a few of those to drink while watching the sunset over the Canyon. The prices were a bit higher than outside the National Park but they always are in this type of shop so we were not surprised.
If you want to do a mule trek into the Canyon then Bright Angel is the place to book this.We walked passed the mules in their home when we walked to Yavapai, there were hundreds of them waiting for riders.
Other options to explore the Canyon include trekking down and satying in the Canyon caming. Flying by helicopter over the canyon which we did the preious time and I would thoroughly recommend as an experience. You can also drive for some distance and go out on the glass walkway but the price is about the same as a helicopter ride and there is no contest as to which I would choose. We had to planned to go on the walkway until we found out how far it was to get there and what the price was per person and then we decided against this.
All in all I would recommend the Bright Angel as it is the original lodge and by far the closest to the rim. The cost of accommodation is reasonable but the standard is basic and remember to book ahead as it does get busy at holiday times especially.
Thanks for reading. I hope this has been of some use to someone planning a visit to the Grand Canyon looking to stay within the National Park.
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Summary: The closest you can stay to the rim of the Grand Canyon on the South rim
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