Phantom Ranch, the legendary and only accommodations located below the rim of the Grand Canyon, can only be reached by mule, by hiking, or by rafting the Colorado River. That’s the easy part. The challenge has always been getting one of the 92 bunks in the cabin, because reservations are made up to five years in advance.

This is the Holy Grail of accommodations at the Grand Canyon due to the fact that Phantom Ranch only has 92 beds (bunks) that are used exclusively by hikers and overnight mule riders from the South Rim down to the Colorado River.

Demand is so intense that Grand Canyon National Park has a new online lottery starting in January 2019 and beyond. The lottery system is up and running, tested and working well. Most importantly, it’s fair to all.

Here’s how it will work: 

  • Lottery entries will be taken between the 1st and 25th – fifteen (15) months prior to the desired stay month.
  • Lottery submissions will be processed, lottery winners notified, and reservations guaranteed within the 14th month prior to the desired stay month.
  • Any unsold/unclaimed inventory will be available for general sale following the 13th month.
If you’re still confused, here’s an example with real dates:
  • Month of Stay: February 2019
  • Lottery Submission: December 1-25, 2017
  • Lottery Processing and Notification: January 2018
  • Unsold Inventory for General Sale: February 1, 2018

An automated process will randomly select lottery winners, who will then be notified via email and have 10 days to guarantee the reservation with a deposit. Reservations cancelled at least 45 days prior to the arrival date will receive a full refund of the deposit, and those within 45 days of the reservation arrival date will forfeit it.

And then the real fun begins! The hike to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles down the shortest trail and 10 miles down on the longer option. Hiking back up the trail may be harder than getting the reservation to Phantom Ranch, depending on your fitness level.

For more information, visit

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