Half a million calls in one morning, 2000 in the first four seconds of opening time, everyone calling on the first of the month, 13 months in advance of the highly coveted June spots to hike down the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch. As popular as it is, Phantom Ranch is only able to give out 64 spots per night after allotting other spots for groups and professional tours. It’s hard to imagine a vacation destination infinitely more competitive than Disney, but this is it. Xanterra said “all hands are on deck” for the first of the month, meaning 150 employees (including maintenance workers) answer the many calls from desperate hikers, hoping for the slim chance to hike to the base of the Grand Canyon.
We have been waiting for this day for the last year, planning our best plan of attack through groups, which entails faxing your request for your group of 10 or more at 12am Mountain Standard Time (in Arizona, with no daylight savings time), in other words 2am central time. After several of our parties were unsuccessful in earning a group reservation in the middle of the night, all of us called this morning to try getting an individual reservation of 9 or less. I am still shaking my head in disbelief, but I managed to snag 3 of the 4 4-person cabins at Phantom Ranch. When I told the operator I would take as many spots as I could get, knowing it was only possible to get 9, she managed to book 3 cabins for 2 nights, and explained that I would be able to call back once the phone lines cleared later this afternoon to switch our third cabin (which at the time only had one of our nine) to a different person’s name and fill the cabin with four people, allowing us and the original family that had dreamt up this plan to go on a once in a lifetime adventure. I can’t believe we are already booking our 2018 summer vacation before we take our 2017 trip!
Our other option to stay at the bottom of the Grand Canyon was to camp, but with only 2 group campsites available to groups over 6 (our family), our chances for this opportunity appeared to be slipping through our fingers. In addition, campsites are booked 4 months in advance, which would be after our entire 2018 trip would be booked next January, quite possibly forcing us to rearrange our entire summer of reservations due to the flexibility required for us to try getting a campsite any day next summer. Because the chances were so slim to get anything, we couldn’t even split our family because each family would likely get a different date. In addition, if a group is found to be travelling to separate campsites, their permit would get revoked. It seemed that roadblocks were popping up everywhere we turned.
Regardless, we are forever thankful for this new opportunity. Check in with us if you are heading to the Grand Canyon and looking for reservation tips. Let the 2018 planning begin! Phantom Ranch, here we come!