Right off of historic Route 66 in Williams, Arizona, lies a glamping experience like no other. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind Grand Canyon campsite situated in the desert on 12 acres of open land, with limited cellular service and a bunch of fellow travelers. Head down the dirt road until you see large, glowing green bugs. Welcome to Camp Prado!
After spending a long day exploring Grand Canyon National Park, we followed directions given by our host Richard. As this is on the edge of fully off the grid, GPS directions do not work to find the campsite. We closely followed the directions from the South Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon, heading onto highway 180 toward Flagstaff, Arizona, looking for specific markers and points of interest to ensure we were on the right track. This was part of the adventure and excitement of finding our tent for the night — almost like a treasure hunt.
We found our way, bumping down a dirt road in our rental car. At this point we were happy to have booked a Jeep as our rental vehicle, as a sedan might not have made it back in one piece. Driving down the road we saw giant, glowing bug statues, a signifier we found Camp Prado. Pulling into the designated parking area, we were warmly greeted by our host Richard. He gave us a rundown of the space, where our tent was located and what time to expect dinner.
Only grabbing what we needed from our vehicle, we took a short walk to our tent to settle in and shower before the sun went down. Being in the desert, there is no light pollution so the darkness of night is different than what I am used to living in Philadelphia. I am by no means afraid of the dark, but I am skittish of the creatures that emerge as the sun goes down: snakes, coyotes, tarantulas and a small chance of mountain lion.
Our shower consisted of an outdoor stall with a bag of water warmed by the sun. If you are looking for a hotel-style shower, this is not for you. I personally enjoyed it. Getting clean after a sweaty day of hiking felt amazing.
The campsite has a long, family-style table where others who are staying convene for conversation, some drinks and, the best part, homemade chili prepared by our host. In previous years, Richard was a chef and you could tell by the dinner. We enjoyed chili with all the fixings, corn on the cob, coleslaw and warm tortillas. It was so delicious. We met fellow travelers from around the world and had conversations about beer, UFOs, the area around us and other light-hearted topics. It began to drizzle but rain never hurt anyone so we just put our hoods up and continued to chat.
On typical nights, a roaring fire with s’mores would be going, but, due to dry conditions in the area, all fires were prohibited. Richard also had a telescope set up to view surrounding stars, planets, constellations and the moon. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy the night we were there to view anything, but I am sure the sky is stunning when it is clear.
Around 10 p.m., we all turned in for the night. The beds in the tents were comfortable, with fluffy comforters, pillows and an extra throw blanket in case we needed it. The temperature dropped from about 101 degrees during the day to around 55 degrees at night. It was the right temperature for me to get a good night’s rest.
I woke up around 5:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise and it was stunning. My stay was during a super moon, so the moon never set. While the sun was rising in the east, the moon was still in the sky toward the west. I was the only camper up at this time to enjoy the sight, sounds and smells of the crisp morning. I could hear cows in the distance mooing along with a rooster and other birds singing songs as the sun emerged slowly. I highly suggest doing the same if you plan to visit.
Richard had coffee and a buffet-style breakfast for campers to enjoy. I opted for a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam with a hard-boiled egg for some protein. As we packed up our belongings, we wished we booked another night at Camp Prado. We plan to return in the future with friends and family to share the adventure with others.
If you are interested in booking, you can find all of the listings here. Book ahead of time as the spaces are typically filled every night.
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