Rather than camp at Bright Angel, the group made reservations a year in advance for Phantom Ranch. There are a dozen or so small rock cabins, full of bunk beds. The accommodations are simple, clean and very comfortable. (Real toilets, hot running showers) The main canteen offers breakfast, sack lunch and dinner with reservations. Otherwise, they are well stocked with snacks and drinks. Long tables hold 12 people; meals are a tight fit, but it feels like adult camp.
How do they get those supplies down there? The same way they run the mail and trash up the canyon: by mule. I’m fairly certain this is the last remaining mule mail service in the US.
I loved being there. We did yoga one morning on our bath towels outside, stretching out the previous day’s hike. We eyed the board games, drank bad boxed wine, watched a bit of wildlife, took side hikes and sat in the river — again, trying to ease the soreness.
The meals were the same from day to day. Breakfast was coffee, pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs. Lunch was a sack of snacks. Dinner was cornbread, chili, salad and cake. We ate it all with gusto.
Pretty incredible supply chain, someone is managing — all via UMS. (United Mule Service)
Also of note: apparently they do not like you to touch the mules. Even if they are adorable and wiggle their ears at you and basically BEG to be nuzzled. Coincidentally, I got scolded by a cowboy, and that was not all bad.