GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — The process of reserving a bed at Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon is about to get a little smoother.
Grand Canyon National Park Lodges, which manages accommodations at the South Rim, is switching from telephone reservations to an online lottery for the only lodging at the bottom of the Canyon.
No longer will would-be guests have to keep dialing and redialing on the first day of each month in hopes of getting through.
But you’ll still have to plan well ahead. Fifteen months ahead, to be exact.
The new system is in effect for stays beginning in January 2019. Those interested in that month should enter the online lottery starting Nov. 1 of this year. Under the phone-in system, reservations could be made 13 months ahead.
Here’s how the new process works, according to the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges website:
Enter the online lottery between the first and 25th day of the month 15 months ahead of your desired stay — for example, if you want to stay in May of 2019, visit the website and enter the lottery around Jan. 1, 2018. Lottery submissions will be processed, winners will be notified and reservations will be guaranteed the following month.
If you’re chosen, you’ll have to pay in advance. If you cancel your plans within 45 days of the start of your stay, you forfeit your deposit. The current requirement that guests reconfirm their reservations two days before their stay will remain in place.
Those who don’t get selected in the lottery will get another chance as any unclaimed reservations will be released for general sale (on a first-come, first-served basis) starting 13 months in advance of the stay.
The lottery system is only for reserving beds at Phantom Ranch. Meals and duffel service can be added when visitors confirm and pay for the bed space reservation. Overnight mule rides to Phantom Ranch include meals, but will also be included in the lottery since they involve bed space for the overnight stay.
Other overnight stay options inside the canyon, including Indian Garden, Bright Angel and Cottonwood campgrounds, require a permit that can be purchased at the Backcountry Information Center.
Phantom Ranch is the only permanent lodging below the rim of the Grand Canyon so beds there are coveted. Lodging consists of men’s and women’s dorms each with five bunk beds and a small bathroom, plus several rustic stone cabins of varying sizes with bunk beds and cold-water sinks. Cabin guests shower in a nearby bath house.
Dorm beds cost $51; cabins cost $149 for two people, plus $13 for each additional person.
Non-group reservations of hikers at Phantom Ranch will be limited to one reservation per month, per person for a maximum of four nights and a maximum of nine people in the reservation. Group reservations are limited to 10 to 20 hikers for a maximum of two consecutive nights March to October or three consecutive nights November to February.
The decision was made to move to a lottery system to make the reservation process easier in light of the extreme demand for lodging at the historic property. In addition to having to deal with the phone-reservation system, visitors looking to secure a bed at Phantom Ranch also were frustrated by people who did get through tying up dates they often did not use. Some people would reserve multiple dates while making plans and then cancel the extra days once their trips were finalized.
Grand Canyon National Park Lodges is still working out some details of the new lottery system. More information about the lottery process can be found at http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/phantom-ranch/phantom-ranch-lottery-faqs/ or by calling 888-297-2757.