Going to Phantom Ranch is no easy ride. At 1400m below the South Rim, we can only access it by foot, by mule or by boat. You might notice the ruins of a house with several rooms. These are the remains of a Native Pueblo site dating from 1050 B.C. Thirty to fourty Hisatsinom families (the name used by the Hopi, descendants of this pueblo population) lived here using this place to hunt and to farm.
The canyon may look like a desert with few food and materials to live there, but appearances can be deceiving. The farmers used the indigenous vegetation, like agave and cactus as food sources. With the populations of deer and mountain sheep, hunting brought a lot of food.
The road to Phantom Ranch on the back of a mule can take a whole day and you have to book months in advance. You will notice a change in the temperature as you go down; the Grand Canyon is a reverse mountain, so the temperature on the rims is much colder than at the bottom of the Canyon.
Phantom Ranch is surrounded by poplars and several species of herbs and bushes. However, not all of the plants growing here are from here. The Tamarisk is from Eurasia. It arrived in the United States in the 1800s and quickly spread in the creeks of the arid southwest. Phantom Ranch is also a cultivated oasis. You can find ancient peach trees orchards, pomegranates, olive trees and a palm tree.
When you visit Phantom Ranch, you can stop by the National Park Service Rancher, where the rangers will give you the weather conditions and will answer your questions.
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter designed eight of the historic structures at the South Rim and the Phantom Ranch. Its construction cost 20 000$. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the rest of Phantom Ranch in the mid-1930s.
Phantom Ranch is the starting point of several rafting activities on Colorado River.
Photo: Willow & Monk