If anybody reads us hoping to encounter interesting literature without paying for a subscription to either The New Yorker or Mad Magazine, this post and nearly all of our others will disappoint you. This one is meant for the handful of frequent RV’ers in our audience, to each of whom we feel a duty to help on that rare occasion when we can. We owe so much to the RV blogs known as Watson’s Wander, Aluminarium, and Wheeling It: it feels good to be able to give something back.
This post is about a great place to camp for free less than four miles outside Grand Canyon National Park. Free is good, especially around popular national parks. The $20, no hook-ups park (Mather) sold out of its RV and trailer campsites, as did the $35 a night with hook-ups, Trailer Village. We have more quiet, more space, and there’s no reason not to let Pinky be a dog here, all for the price of a few pounds of propane and a couple of quarts of generator fuel per day.
Approaching Grand Canyon from the south, you must pass through Tusayan, AZ, just before you enter the park. We are camped at FR 302 which intersects Hwy 64 one hundred yards before the roundabout at the south end of Tusayan. To get to our wonderful campsite, just turn right on FR 302 while going north, and endure ¾ of a mile of gravel road and washboard. It snowed a couple of inches the day before we arrived which only made the road perfect. There are four or five large secluded sites off this road, all right in the middle of a lovely Ponderosa pine forest. We are near the airport, so there is a lot of helicopter traffic beginning around 9:00 a.m. and ending about 4:00 p.m. We try to be in the park between those hours anyway, and nobody flies after dark. I do not see or hear the wop-wops as a problem.
I must offer one caveat: Tusayan has a National Geographic Imax, several restaurants and bars, but no real grocery store. Buy your chow, vino, and birra in Williams. There is a clean, neat, and fairly priced Safeway there.
And as sometimes happens, this morning I awoke in the middle of the night and felt compelled to go outside to enjoy the silence and darkness. Yo, it gets really, really dark here. I saw the Milky Way, which has become a rare sight. I sat out for half an hour but it was near freezing, and I had to give up without seeing a single meteor. But I did find the Big Dipper, which validated my sense of direction.