Project Point of Contact

Laura Nelson

Phantom Ranch

Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim


Xanterra Parks and Resorts® is committed to environmental stewardship in all aspects of our business. This stewardship is a visible component at every one of our 28 properties including Xanterra South Rim, LLC. However, when evaluating a "sense of culture" in regards to environmental stewardship, one specific property stands alone.

In such a remote area as Grand Canyon National Park, every environmental program undergoes thorough review. We implement practices to minimize refuse we can not recycle.  We strive to conserve our precious natural resources through energy conservation and awareness. Our remoteness at the South Rim is only topped by the extreme remoteness of our Phantom Ranch operation.

A View of Phantom Ranch

View of Phantom Ranch

After an eleven-mile hike, five hour mule ride, or several day river raft ride, you will arrive at one of the most remote hospitality locations in the country. No matter the transportation you choose, you will learn about environmental stewardship along the way. Hikers learn about composting toilets and water conservation through postings by the National Park Service. Mule riders are educated about litter control, water resources, and the first system of hybrid (mule) transportation that built the trails 100 years ago. River riders also learn about the environment and terrain that formed the canyon. Regardless of the transportation, once you step into the inner gorge, you are transported to a pristine wilderness and - whether consciously or unconsciously - you thank those before you with foresight to preserve this amazing place.

It is not a choice to practice environmental stewardship; it is a requirement of living at the bottom of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The canyon is such a fragile microcosm that environmental consciousness is vital to continue adequate preservation of this amazing place.

The full-time staff of seventeen run the accommodations at Phantom Ranch, which houses up to 94 guests per night and sees roughly 28,000 overnight visitors and upwards of 75,000 day visitor each year. This staff is not only responsible for the maintenance and continued tracking of the environmental programs; they also serve as the main source of environmental education to our guests.

Waste Diversion and Reduction

Re-used Feed Sacks for Guest Duffel Service

  • Worn guest towels are recycled as cleaning rags for the staff

  • Worn guest linens are reused as drop cloths for painting projects

  • Emptied food containers are washed and used for miscellaneous storage

  • Emptied spice containers are used in the maintenance shop to sort hardware

  • Used office paper is shredded and used as packing material for retail orders
Outbound Duffels
At Phantom Ranch, we truly understand the pillars of waste reduction – reduce, reuse, and recycle. The staff reuses everything possible:

  • Reusable plastic bottles are given to hikers needing an extra water bottle

  • Supply boxes are reused to pack out recyclables

  • Food bags are reused as ice packs for sore hikers

  • Hay feed bags for the mules are reused for duffel pack service for guests

The composting efforts are probably the greatest positive environmental impact.  Twenty-thousand pounds of kitchen waste is composted annually at Phantom Ranch. The compost is then used for trail fill and repair. These 20,000 pounds represents a reduction in solid waste that would otherwise need to be carried out by mule and then sent to the land fill.
Trail Compost Equipment

Due to the small sewage treatment facility on site, Phantom Ranch has an extensive water conservation program in place. Additionally, all of the detergents and chemicals used at Phantom Ranch have been deemed environmental-friendly with most having achieved green seal certification.

Phantom Ranch is often described as a tranquil oasis due to the many lush trees planted over 100 years ago. As an act of environmental stewardship to perpetuate the oasis for the future, the Phantom Ranch staff planted 17 ash trees in 2008. All of these saplings were germinated from seeds harvested from trees already growing at the Ranch. To ensure the success of these new trees, Phantom Ranch installed a gravity fed (zero emissions) irrigation system.

Phantom Ranch is celebrating its 8th year as a participant in the "Adopt-A-River Mile" program. The employees at Phantom Ranch instituted the Grand Canyon's first and perhaps only river clean-up adoption program. The employees adopted river mile 89 and voluntarily clear it of trash that flows from upstream. They collect hundreds of pounds of trash from the river each year. This is in addition to the litter they remove from the trails on their 11 mile commute to work.

Composting Operation at Phantom Ranch

Pack Mules Carry Supplies across the River to Phantom Ranch

Pack Mules Carry Supplies across the River to Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch remains extremely conscious of all operating supplies. All supplies arrive by mule and all trash goes out by mule. Phantom Ranch does not stock plastic cup lids or straws. This eliminates dozens of cases that would be hauled in to be used one time and hauled out. The lunch menu was recently revised to include an electrolyte replacement system powder mix instead of canned juice. This alone saved about 250 pounds per week in supplies. In additional, smaller programs have also been implemented. Staff now serves ketchup at breakfast by request only. This has saved an additional 40 pounds a week. These simple changes have saved 15,000 pound of supplies from being hauled in (and out) just this year.

Education & Outreach

Finally, Phantom Ranch is committed to environmental stewardship through environmental outreach and education. In all guest areas, there are educational signs posted to help our guests understand that they are in a fragile desert environment. These posting illustrate what each individual guest can do to help preserve and protect this amazing place.

As a step to providing our guests with more environmentally friendly options, all of the postcards sold at Phantom Ranch are printed by Mosaic. Mosaic is a zero emissions printing company that generates their own electricity from wind power and uses entirely eco friendly printing processes. If mailed from Phantom Ranch, all of these postcards are transported by mule to the rim, truly making Phantom Ranch on of the last pony express stops remaining in the country

Phantom Ranch (as part of Xanterra South Rim, LLC) is committed to doing anything possible to be stewards of this amazing place we are lucky enough to call home. The efforts described above, as well as any additional efforts made to accomplish environmental stewardship, is not our obligation but our honor.