Bright Angel: Grand Canyon National Park

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s natural wonders and is on pretty much everyone’s bucket list. The Bright Angel trail is perhaps the most popular trail from the Southern Rim to the canyon floor. You can find lodging in this section of the park at either Bright Angel Lodge or El Tovar. Both are historic lodges.


We had our first glimpse of the canyon as we turned west toward the park, coming from Page. It began to rain as we passed through the entrance, but by the time we got to our lodge, it had stopped.

We checked into our cabin at The Bright Angel Lodge, just steps away from the rim of the canyon and the Bright Angel Trailhead. Since it had just rained, everything was shrouded in fog and we couldn’t actually SEE the canyon, but when the fog started lifting out of the canyon, it was incredible.

View of one of the cabin’s bedrooms through the connecting door

Bright Angel Lodge

Our cabin at Bright Angel Lodge was awesome. We rented two rooms which comprised the entire cabin. We lucked out and had a connecting door. Amenities included a mini fridge, tv, and dispensers with a heavenly lemongrass scented body wash, shampoo and conditioner. Both rooms had a ceiling fan which was plenty…no need for AC while we were there. It got down into the 50s at night.
We had thunderstorms each afternoon that forced us inside for an hour or two so we were grateful for our homey cabin. I reserved our rooms a year in advance…there are 5 million visitors a year and not many rooms in the park.

The lobby of the main building at Bright Angel Lodge

The rim trail runs behind the Bright Angel Lodge and El Tovar and is level with guardrails so you can’t just fall over the side in the dark. I got up before dawn and walked the path behind our cabin to El Tovar where I watched the sun come up over the ridge with about a dozen other people.

Historic Buildings

There are some historic buildings in this area. Lookout Studio was constructed by the Santa Fe Railway in 1914 and used as a photography studio. It is now a gift shop with stone terraces from which to view the canyon.

Lookout Studio was built to compete with the nearby Kolb Photography studio in the early 1900s

Hopi House, Lookout Studio, Bright Angel Lodge and several other buildings in the park were designed by female architect Mary Colter in 1904. The Hopi House was built to be a living museum where Native American craftsmen worked and sold souvenirs.

Colter’s Hopi House Living Museum

In the afternoon of our second day in the park, we had some time to kill before our reservations at El Tovar so we took a hike on the Rim Trail. It started to rain again and then stopped almost as soon as we’d donned our rain ponchos. As it cleared, rainbows began to appear in the canyon. Amazing!


El Tovar was worth the splurge! It’s the priciest place to eat in Grand Canyon Village and is a fine dining experience so you can’t walk in with your dirty hikers and shorts.
We were seated by the window for a great view of the setting sun. The lodge and dining room are lovely and full of history.

Location: Arizona
Designation: National
Date designated/established: January 11, 1908
Date of my visit: August 19, 2014


25 thoughts on “Bright Angel: Grand Canyon National Park

  1. Thanks for the memories T. We are so lucky that this item on our bucket list was checked off in 2018. We also did something we never thought we would do, hiked down the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point and back up in one day. It still remains one of our favourite memories . Allan

  2. Pepper

    It has been many years since I’ve been there and your wonderful pics made me think that I need to go back for another visit. 😊

  3. Beautiful photos! You must have hit great weather as usually, even in No. AZ it is hot in August. I’ve driven through the Grand Canyon and stopped at look outs but I can see the benefit of staying several days to hike (according to your fitness level), see it at sunrise and sunset, and explore more. I grew up in AZ, went to school at NAU and have traveled and hiked all over the state.

  4. The rainbow photos are stunning! Good to know a bit about the lodging, as we may attempt a trip with family this fall. Our voyage on the river through the canyon was our real bucket list trip. I’ll never forget it. My mom did the burro ride about halfway down the canyon.

    1. Thanks Eileen! We had the mule ride scheduled, but the day before, an idiot tour guide regaled our group with ‘death in the canyon’ tales causing our daughter to have a major anxiety attack about the trail ride. The mule folks saw how upset she was and because they had a long wait list were able to refund us in full. A couple years later, we were brave enough to ride into Bryce Canyon and loved it 😊

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