Grand Canyon on a Budget (Best Tips!)

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Kelly

The Grand Canyon is easily one of the most amazing destinations in the United States. Because it’s tucked away in a remote part of the country, it takes a bit of effort to travel there. You might be asking yourself, “Is it possible to see the Grand Canyon on a budget?” The short answer is YES, and it might not be as expensive as you think! In this post, we’re sharing our best tips for planning a budget-friendly trip to the Grand Canyon.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Grand Canyon?

In this post, we share our best tips for saving money on a trip to the Grand Canyon. We also include our workup of a hypothetical trip so you can have an idea of a potential budget. 

The itinerary we provide is definitely a weekend warrior itinerary. It’s a quick trip to the Grand Canyon, but it’s definitely do-able! To keep costs low, we kept the number of hotel nights low. The itinerary we provide is for 3 days: a travel day to the Grand Canyon, a day at the Grand Canyon, and then another travel day home. When we visited the Grand Canyon, we spent just one day there and we were able to see a lot. You can read about it here to see our complete guide on how to spend one full day at the Grand Canyon.

Disclaimer: Prices are subject to change. We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. 

Grand Canyon on a budget

Our Best Tips for Saving Money at the Grand Canyon

1. Visit During the Off-Season

The number one thing you can do to save money on your trip is to travel during the off-season. Flights and hotels will likely be considerably cheaper. Summer is peak season, but the Grand Canyon can also be pretty pleasant during the off-season months as well! In the month of March, for instance, the average high temperature is 53 degrees. The inside of the canyon is typically warmer, so if you plan to do any hikes within the canyon, you might find even more comfortable temperatures. If you don’t mind cooler weather, you could potentially save a lot of money.

2. Go to the Grand Canyon on an Entrance-Fee Free day

Did you know that the there are a handful of days a year in which entrance to the Grand Canyon is completely free? Visiting on a free entrance day can save you potentially $35 on a private vehicle fee.

3. Compare Flying Into Phoenix vs Flagstaff

When you’re looking to book your flights, we recommend that you compare prices between arriving in Phoenix versus Flagstaff. Both airports are in Arizona. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is about 236 miles from Grand Canyon Village, and the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is about 90 miles from Grand Canyon Village. If you don’t mind driving a little further, you might find more affordable airfare at one or the other. (It’s worth looking into!) 

When we looked at flights, we found much cheaper airfare flying into Phoenix. If you don’t mind a bit of a drive once you land, you could potentially save a solid amount of money by flying into Phoenix.

If you don’t want to rent a car, you can save money by taking a shuttle from the airport to the park. (If you don’t rent a car, we recommend that you book your hotel within Grand Canyon Village. That way, you can use the shuttle within Grand Canyon National Park to see many of the sights.) From Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, we found shuttles that will take you directly to Grand Canyon Village for $34 one-way. (It would cost $68 round-trip.)

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4. Choose a Budget-Friendly Hotel

There are a range of hotels for every budget near the Grand Canyon. If you want to stay within Grand Canyon Village, the cheaper hotels tend to be the Maswik Lodge and the Yavapai Lodge.

In Tusayan (7 miles away from Grand Canyon Village), you can look into the Red Feather Lodge.

You’ll find the most affordable hotels if you’re willing to drive a little bit each day. The town of Williams (60 miles away from Grand Canyon Village) has hotels and motels that tend to be much more affordable. You might want to look into Canyon Country Inn, Ramada by Wyndham/Williams Grand Canyon Area, and Super 8 by Wyndham Williams West Route 66. There’s also the Williams AZ Hostel if you don’t mind room-sharing. 

5. Eat at the Cafeteria or Pack a Lunch

Instead of having your meals at sit-down restaurants, you can save a considerable amount of money by eating at the park cafeterias. The Maswik Food Court, located in the Maswik Lodge, has a grab-and-go menu. When we visited, we found that there were sandwiches on the menu under $10. You can also save money by packing your own lunch. You can pick up groceries within the park at Canyon Village Market & Deli. We recommend that you keep your lunch in a backpack with an insulated compartment so that it stays fresh longer.

If you leave Grand Canyon National Park for the day, you can find affordable dining options in the nearby town of Tusayan as well. They have a few fast-food restaurants to choose from. There’s also a pizza joint, which is a more affordable way to feed a larger group.

6. Optional: Use Reward Points and Promotion Codes

We wrote this post assuming you don’t have any credit card reward points or promotional discounts. But if you have AAA, credit card reward points, etc., you have the potential to add on extra savings to your trip! If you haven’t checked your statement for awhile, take a look and see how many points you have!

Grand Canyon Rim Trail


What to Bring With You to the Grand Canyon

You’ll want to bring a pair of binoculars to see all of the details across the canyon and on the canyon floor. You’ll also want to bring an insulated water bottle to keep your water cool for as long as possible. Sun protection is important, so bring your favorite sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. To take some epic photos of the canyon behind you, be sure to bring a selfie stick. Finally, bring a first-aid kit to carry in your day pack. If you only have one day at the Grand Canyon, you don’t want to slow it down because of a blister!

Summary: How to Plan a Cheap Trip to the Grand Canyon

We hope that this post was helpful in planning a trip to the Grand Canyon! It’s definitely possible to visit the Grand Canyon on a budget. We recommend that you visit off-season, if possible. We also recommend researching flight costs between arriving in Flagstaff versus Phoenix. We also shared our recommendations for the cheapest hotels near the Grand Canyon. With a bit of planning, you can save a lot of money on your Grand Canyon trip!

Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!