El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon

A 15 pasenger Wildland Trekking van is parked in front of a historical stone and log lodge

Northern Arizona is home to some of the best scenery found on the Colorado Plateau. One of its most iconic destinations is the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon South Rim. This historic hotel offers the area’s best lodging experience in a unique setting with unbeatable access. To get the most out of your experience at the Grand Canyon or beyond, make sure to stay at the El Tovar. The Park Service shuttle offers curbside pickup directly from the lodge and there are many hiking trails within walking distance.


El Tovar is the premier hotel in the south rim area due to a few factors. Its position on the canyon delivers daily stunning views for the entire duration of your stay. The hotel is close to Flagstaff and Sedona and not too far from Phoenix and Las Vegas. This puts the hotel right in the middle of the best canyon scenery in the US.

Area attractions include several national monuments, a national observatory, and fun tourist towns like Seligman and Williams. A combination of Sedona and the Grand Canyon is one of the best itineraries in the state. Flagstaff is a great midpoint to wind down after long hiking treks through the canyons, and has a small airport with regional flights. El Tovar’s setting and location are a top reason why it provides a unique experience in the park.

For those who love outdoor activities, El Tovar Hotel offers access to exceptional hiking trails and cycling options. The nearby Bright Angel Trail is a popular choice for hikers, providing a challenging yet rewarding journey that descends into the heart of the canyon. As you traverse the trail, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas and a profound sense of connection with the raw power of nature.

Alternatively, cycling enthusiasts can take advantage of the designated cycling routes that wind their way along the rim, providing an exhilarating and scenic adventure. The park’s shuttle service offers quick and easy access to trails all over the south rim with return trips that save time and energy.

Log cabin-styled lobby of historic National Park lodge


Beyond its prime location, El Tovar Hotel is steeped in history. Established in 1905, it has welcomed many notable guests throughout the years, including presidents, celebrities, and distinguished figures. This historic hotel has preserved its timeless charm and architectural elegance, transporting guests back to a bygone era while still offering modern comforts and amenities. It is recognized by the Park Service as a National Historic Landmark, allowing it to be federally protected as well as operated in its unique historic setting.

Today, El Tovar Hotel operates as a full-service hotel, providing guests with a range of modern comforts. The rooms are well-appointed and offer stunning views of the canyon and surrounding forest. Inside the hotel is a cozy lounge area where guest can relax by the fireplace, recount their adventures, or simply take in the grandeur of the surroundings. The hotel retains a rustic charm, as required by its landmark designation.

The historic bar is fantastic and features many local beers. A trip to the bar after a long day’s hike is certainly a motivating factor when coming straight from the canyon. Cocktails, wine, and a variety of other drinks are also available. 

Around the El Tovar in Grand Canyon Village are several other historical sights worth visiting. Nearby is the Kolb Studio. This studio is a modern art museum with rotating exhibits, but in the past served as a dark room and storefront for the Kolb Brothers, famous photographers of the region.

The adjacent Hopi House is designed to replicate a pueblo and features unique Navajo jewelry. You’ll also have a chance to witness the Grand Canyon Railroad in action, as the train operates daily – don’t worry, it only blows its horn at 3 pm. Lastly, the Mary Colter Art Studio offers more unique artwork sourced from the surrounding area.


One of the highlights of El Tovar Hotel is its renowned dining room. This is the premiere dining room in the Grand Canyon region. The El Tovar Dining Room provides a captivating setting where guests can savor delectable cuisine while being surrounded by rustic elegance. Boasting magnificent views of the canyon, the setting is the best dining experience in the Grand Canyon area. From hearty breakfasts to elegant dinners, the menu features a variety of dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Although reservations can be hard to come by, the El Tovar Dining Room is a staple on Wildland Trekking lodge based trips.

The nearby Bright Angel Lodge also offers a rustic dining experience with a focus on regional cuisine, while the Maswik Lodge boasts a casual cafeteria-style setting. From El Tovar, you have access to an ice cream shop and second dining room with adjoining bar just steps away in the Bright Angel Lodge. There is no shortage of food at the El Tovar, with options to accommodate every diet. A grocery store on site helps provide park additional choice.

Securing reservations at the El Tovar can be a challenge, given the hotel’s popularity and limited availability. However, travelers can enjoy accommodations at this iconic hotel and ensure an unforgettable, stress-free stay, by leaving the logistics to a guide company.

A set dinner table next to a large window looks out on the edge of the Grand Canyon

In the Area

Grand Canyon Restaurants near the South Rim

Tusayan, a small town located just outside the southern entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park, serves as a gateway to the park. While the town itself is relatively small, it offers a range of dining options to cater to  hungry adventurers. Notable restaurants in Tusayan are the Big E Steakhouse, Plaza Bonita, and Canyon Star Steakhouse. These restaurants are accessible from the Park Service shuttle, which offers trips outside of the park and into Tusayan, making the town an ideal choice when looking for a more casual experience not far from El Tovar.

While Tusayan is a convenient option for the Grand Canyon, it’s worth venturing beyond its borders to discover other nearby attractions. Just a short drive away, you’ll find the charming town of Williams, known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” on historic Route 66. This town exudes a nostalgic atmosphere, with its retro-style diners, classic motels, and unique shops. Grab a bite at one of the iconic Route 66-themed restaurants, where you can indulge in mouthwatering burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Explore the local breweries and wineries, whose products are also featured in El Tovar.

Flagstaff is a little over an hour from El Tovar. The city hosts the best restaurants in northern Arizona, as well as unique monuments and an observatory to accentuate your experience. Breweries and an exciting nightlife round out the Flagstaff experience. It is also the most convenient town to fly into and out of if you’re looking to avoid larger cities and longer drive time. A great jumping off point for both Sedona and the south rim, add Flagstaff to your list of places to visit in conjunction with the Grand Canyon. 

Sunset view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon looking down to the Colorado River


El Tovar is the iconic experience for lodging and dining at the Grand Canyon South Rim. It is open year round, but reservations can sell out quickly. Working with a tour operator is a great way to get lodging and dining options secured while making the most of your experience in the area. Make sure to take advantage of the most beautiful times of day in Canyon Country – sunrise and sunset. Watching these scenes are worth the value of staying at the lodge alone. 

About Robert Hartsig

-Wildland Guide-

Robert was born in Phoenix, Arizona but grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. An ACL injury playing high school football led Robert into the outdoor recreation of Tennessee. He developed a love for backpacking trips and biking. Robert received his BA in Marketing from the University of Tennessee, where he worked with museums and national battlefields to help develop green and sustainable technology initiatives to help the Park Service save money. This eventually led him to a career as a Trip Leader, which he has worked since 2014. Robert is a musician, a huge fan of football, and enjoys helping small businesses throughout Arizona with their marketing and community services, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. He currently resides in Prescott Arizona.

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