If you want the Grand Canyon right outside your door, there are many options inside the gate. With six lodges at the South Rim, one at the North Rim and one at the bottom of the canyon, there are beds a-plenty to be had. Accommodations are not four star but very serviceable and range from moderate to rustic. Even still, finding a bed during high season is a challenge. Book as early as you can to assure you have a place to lay your head. Winter bookings are much easier to get and even fall and spring see fewer canyon visitors than summertime. Regardless, don’t assume they’ll have a spot for you.
If you like to bring home along wherever you go, there is a trailer park at the South Rim where you can set up shop and get electric, water, etc. Campgrounds are found at both rims and house many visitors each year as well.
The nearest you can get to the Grand Canyon without staying inside the gate is Tusayan. It’s only a mile from the South Gate entrance and has a number of mid-level hotels. The town was built to serve the Grand Canyon tourist industry. Laundry, post office, and other amenities can be found there. Don’t expect much more as the whole focus does lie in the canyon itself.
Williams and Flagstaff are about equidistant from the South Gate at a little over an hour’s drive away. Each city has it’s own feel and draws. Because they have their own industries and tourism draw, hotels are plentiful and range in level and price.
Phoenix and Las Vegas are over 4 hours away by car but offer major airports. It’s not easy to base out of these locations for your Grand Canyon adventure, but many tour companies do offer to get you in and out easily and in a day if you’d simply like to pop by. But to really experience the canyon, best to book some overnight time there or in Tusayan rather than try to commute.