Architect Mary Colter expanded and modernized David Rust’s simple inner canyon camp, adding conveniences and touches of elegance while maintaining the flavor of a rustic, family-run guest ranch.
Phantom Ranch opened in 1922, though construction continued until 1930. Designed to resemble a working ranch, the cluster of guest cabins and a canteen are the only accommodations in the inner canyon.
Shaded by cottonwoods, lying between Bright Angel Creek and the Colorado River, Phantom Ranch is a riparian oasis.
In addition to native seep willow and coyote willow, peach, pomegranate, and fig trees grow around the ranch. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) set up a winter camp here and made several improvements.
For hikers, river runners, and mule riders who spend a night or two, there’s plenty to explore. The CCC-built River Trail follows the south side of the river, leading to Pipe Creek. On the opposite side of the river, the CCC also built the Clear Creek Trail, which climbs the cliffs for excellent views of Phantom Ranch and the Inner Gorge.
Ribbon Falls, another possible day-hike destination, lies six miles north of Phantom Ranch along the North Kaibab Trail.
For some river runners, the trip ends here at Phantom Ranch or about a mile downriver at lovely Pipe Creek, followed by the long, steep hike up Bright Angel Trail. For those who’ve booked lower-canyon trips, this is where the adventure begins. (Whether you’re hiking up or down, Bright Angel Trail is challenging—there’s no shame in arranging ahead of time for a mule to carry your gear, or you.)
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition