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Phantom Ranch








After making twenty-four hikes from the
rim to river and back as a day hike, I
have finally stayed the night at Phantom
Ranch and I had a great time!

We hiked down the
Bright Angel Trail,
leaving on a January morning with a
temperature of 28F (-2C).  Because we
were not going to the river and back in
one day, we got to leave in daylight and
enjoy a hot breakfast at the
Maswik food
court.  My brother, who is not in the best
of shape, made the trip for the first time,
allowing for a leisurely hike down.









When you cross the Silver Bridge, you
pass a sewage treatment plant, and then
make the way up the trail to Phantom
Ranch.  You check in at the Canteen,
which also serves as your meal place
and social hall.  The Canteen is open to
the public from 8:30am to 4pm and 8pm
to 10pm in the Winter with the opening
moving to 8:00am in the Summer.  Steak
dinner is served, family style, at 5:00pm
and the stew/vegetarian dinner is served
at 6:30pm.  Breakfast has two seatings,
in the Winter, 5:30am/7:00am, and in the
Summer, 5:00am/6:30am.

The 5:00pm steak dinner sounds a bit
early, but it allowed us to arrive, check
into our room, and do an exploratory hike
before dinner.  The meals are served
“family style” in the canteen, with big
plates piled high with steak, as well as
salad, cornbread, baked potatoes and
string beans, as well as a simple
chocolate cake for desert.  I must admit,
it was one of the best meals I have had
in my life.  Perhaps it was the pleasant
day of hiking or the novel location, but
the meal was great.  I supplemented my
meal with a Grand Canyon IPA, for
$5.50, which, considering it was chilled
and had been carried down by a mule,
seemed a bargain.

The meal passes quickly and the staff
hurries you out so they can prepare for
the next group at 6:30 p.m..  The
canteen opens again at 8:00 p.m., where
the main occupation seems to be filling
out postcards to be carried up by mule
with the stamp, “Mailed by mule at the
bottom of the Grand Canyon Phantom
Ranch.”




After sunset, we were able to put on
headlamps and enjoy a moonlit stroll
over the Colorado River on the Silver
Bridge.  The image of the moon
reflecting off the river is memorable.

I have heard nightmare stories from
people who have stayed in the dorms
with fellow hikers who snored like
chainsaws.  I am a light sleeper, so I was
very happy to stay in a room with two
other people I knew.  I imagine many a
dorm sleeper spends a sleepless night at
Phantom Ranch.

The cabins are basic, but have a wall
unit that provides both heat and air-
conditioning.  The air must be a godsend
on Summer days, and the heat was
useful in January, even though the night
time temperature probably did not drop
below 40F (4.4C).

The cabins have a cold-water sink, hand
soap dispenser, two hand towels, and a
basic toilet.  Showers are located in a
separate building, and cabin dwellers get
a hot shower (three stalls on the men’s
side), and a bath towel.  The bunk beds
are not luxurious, but not that bad
considering the location. There is a
garbage can in the room. There is no cell
phone reception or internet at Phantom
Ranch, but there is a pay phone that
accepts credit cards.

The 5:30am breakfast is served
promptly, with pancakes, eggs, bacon,
and coffee or tea.  The breakfast was
serviceable, but not as luxurious as the
steak dinner the night before.  It is best
to be on time to breakfast, as the late
arrivers seemed to have a hard time
getting their fill before breakfast ended.  
In January, the sun still is not up at the
end of breakfast, so it is best to have a
headlight if you intend to hit the trail early.

We sent my brother, who had a sore leg,
back up the more gradual Bright Angel
Trail, while we had a leisurely stroll up
Kaibab Trail.  Usually, hiking up Kaibab
is proceeded by coming down
Bright
Angel and crossing the river, so after
staying at Phantom Ranch it was great
fun to head out fresh, with plenty of time,
heading up to the rim, which we hit at
about 11:00am.

I must admit, I had the time of my life
staying at Phantom Ranch.  I was all
smiles the next morning hiking up Kaibab
Trail, usually a hard slog.  I had stayed
with my brother at Grand Canyon on the
rim in a cabin in 1970.  When we woke
up in the morning in Phantom Ranch in
our bunk beds and talked, it was almost
like a time machine back to 47 years
before when we traveled to the canyon
with our parents.  Perhaps my
experience of Phantom Ranch was
unique and tinged by my perspective, but
I recommend a stay to anyone.  Also, it
would provide a handy stopover for my
first
rim to rim hike, which I hope to
accomplish soon.
All original contents copyright  2017.
The office and canteen at Phantom Ranch
Cabin at Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon Arizona.
Four person cabin at Phantom Ranch.
Cold water sink at Phantom Ranch cabin.
Basic toilet in cabin at Phantom Ranch.
Mailed by mule at the bottom of Grand Canyon postmark.
Phantom Ranch supplies are carried by mule to the bottom of Grand Canyon.
Early morining view on South Kaibab Trail just South of the Tip Off.
Hiking back from Phantom Ranch
on South Kaibab Trail.
My brother and I on a cross-county trip, including a visit to Grand Canyon, in Summer, 1970,
Crossing Silver Bridge going to Phantom Ranch at Grand Canyon in 2017.
What a difference 47 years makes!
I am on the left in the 1970 photo
and on the right in the 2017 photo.