South Rim — Spring 2021 — Helpful Tips

graphic of a person's head that is wearing a face mask within a square frame.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are modified operations throughout the South Rim. Please read through this web page to make the most of your time while visiting the Grand Canyon during the spring of 2021.

You can also review our Park Operations Webpage for current information and hours of operation. Updated daily.

Wearing a face mask/covering is required:

  • Inside, in any shared space

  • Outside if you cannot maintain a minimum of 6 feet/2 meters from those outside your household

  • In designated Outdoor Mask Zones >

 

This year, the spring season at Grand Canyon National Park is March 1 through May 28

Here are highlights of what is open, closed or modified:

 
Two people reading park information displayed on sandwich board signs. One is taking a photo of a sign with their phone.
Trip planning and hiking information is provided by signs in front of each visitor center and at other key locations throughout the park.
  • NEW: Visitors traveling to Grand Canyon National Park can enter the park through the East Entrance at Desert View. Details >

  • Entrance Fees are paid at the entrance stations, or by purchasing a pass in advance from nearby third-party vendors, or online, through Recreation.gov.
  • If you have purchased a pass in advance and are entering through the South Entrance Station – stay in the left lane as you approach, and enter through lane 1 (far left).
  • At the Entrance Stations, credit and debit cards, digital passes, and America the Beautiful passes will be accepted for entry. Cash is not being accepted at this time. More >
  • Most South Rim visitor centers are currently closed. Trip planning and hiking information is available through a series of signs in front of each visitor center and at other key locations throughout the park.
  • The Backcountry Information Center is currently closed; however, requests for overnight backcountry permits are being considered. More >
 
a pair of photos showing the length of vehicle lines waiting to enter the park. 9:43 am shows 10 cars. 11:33 shows 5 long lines extending to the horizon
Arrive early (before 9 am) to enter the park and find a good parking spot. Between 10 am and 5 pm entrance station lines are long, and you can expect to wait between 45 minutes and 2 hours to enter the park.
 
Several people walking past rows of cars in a busy parking lot with a pickup truck pulling out behind them
The parking lots around the Visitor Center usually fill by 12 noon. It's a good idea to arrive early (before 9 am) to find a parking spot and be able to make the most of your time here. Grand Canyon Visitor Center - Lot 2. NPS/M.Quinn

Spring Break is Very Busy

Be prepared for crowded conditions.

  • Between 10 am and 4 pm entrance station and shuttle bus lines are long.
  • You can Monitor the South Entrance Station Webcam >
  • It's a good idea to arrive early (before 9 am) to find a good parking spot and make the most of your time here.
  • The four Visitor Center parking lots usually fill by 12 noon. Here's information about additional parking lots in the village.
  • As an alternative, it is possible to park in Williams, AZ, 60 miles south of the park, (on Interstate 40), take Grand Canyon Railway into the park, and not have to deal with spring break traffic and finding a parking place. The train departs Williams daily at 9:30 am, arrives in Grand Canyon Village at 11:45 am, departs the village at 3:30 pm, and arrives back in Williams at 5:45 pm.
 
Six people wearing face masks and winter clothing are boarding a green and white bus.
Passengers must follow all CDC and public health physical distancing guidelines while in line and on the bus.

Three Shuttle Bus Routes are in Operation

Because of Covid-19 mitigation measures, the three routes that are in operation will transport you away from congested areas to less busy scenic locations.

  • The scenic Hermit Road (Red Route) is in service. Hermit Road is Closed to private vehicles. More >
  • The eastbound Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) is in service between the Visitor Center and South Kaibab Trailhead. More >
  • The one way Hikers' Express Shuttle which provides early morning bus service from the Backcountry Information Center to the South Kaibab Trailhead, is operating, but with midifications. More >
  • Shuttle capacity is limited to 15 passengers.
  • Face masks/coverings are required. Prior to entry passengers must have their own face mask/covering.
  • Passengers must follow all CDC and public health physical distancing guidelines while in line and on the bus. More >
 
a family briskly walking along a paved footpath through a forested area
If you walk along the Rim Trail between the Visitor Center and the Village, you will need to walk back to your starting point. (4.2 miles/6.85 km round trip) since the Village (Blue Route) bus is not in service this spring. NPS/M.Quinn

These shuttle bus routes NOT in operation

The three routes that are not in operation this spring are usually "standing room only" and are not able to meet Covid-19 safety requirements.

  • The Village (Blue Route) CLOSED
    There is no shuttle bus service between Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Village during the spring. If you walk along the Rim Trail between the Visitor Center and the Village, you will need to walk back to your starting point. (4.2 miles/6.85 km round trip)
  • The Westbound Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) CLOSED
    The Kaibab Rim Route, Westbound, to Yavapai Geology Museum, is not in operation during spring. There is no shuttle bus service between the Visitor Center and Yavapai Geology Museum. If you walk along the Rim Trail between the Visitor Center and Yavapai Geology Museum, you will need to walk back to your starting point. (1.4 miles/2.25 km round trip)
  • The Tusayan (Purple Route) CLOSED
    The Tusayan Route will not be in service until summer 2021. There is no service between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the gateway town of Tusayan during the spring.
 
a woman taking a photo of her car in a parking lot, in relation to a parking lot sign in the background.
The 4 parking lots near the Visitor Center Plaza/Mather Point are represented by numbers, colors, and animal symbols to help you remember where you left your car. Taking a photo can help you locate your car when you return.

Decide what you would like to do and find a parking place for the day

  • Or choose to spend the day driving and sightseeing along our one scenic drive, State Route 64, Desert View Drive, to Desert View, 44 miles (70 km) round-trip. As of this update, the East Entrance is open, however, most Desert View facilities are closed.(4/12/2012)
  • A map of South Rim Parking Lots is shown below.
  • Popular locations and activities are listed below.
 
Grand Canyon village parking map shows parking lots 1-4 and A-D
The South Rim developed area showing three zones or locations: Grand Canyon Village, including the historic district on the left. Market Plaza and the campgrounds in the center, and the Visitor Center Plaza and Mather Point on the right. Public parking lots are also shown. Lots 1-4 at the Visitor Center Plaza, and Lots A-D, at Market Plaza and in the village itself.
 

Locations of Interest and Their Related Activities

 
South Rim Visitor Center Plaza Parking Lots adjacent to Mather Point and the Canyon Rim Trail.
Map of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Plaza showing parking lots 1-4, and the footpaths leading from the plaza and parking lots to Mather Point and the Canyon Rim Trail. The Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) shuttle connects the Visitor Center to the South Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point.

Visitor Center Plaza
and Mather Point

Those entering the park through the South Entrance Station, often make the Visitor Center Plaza their first stop. There are four parking lots surrounding the plaza, (Lots 1-4). Lot 1 has RV parking.

The Visitor Center itself remains Closed This Spring - due to COVID-19 health concerns. However, trip planning and hiking information along with maps are available through a series of signs and permanent exhibits in front of the Visitor Center. The plaza has a bicycle rental/coffee shop, and the Park Store (bookstore and gifts). The Visitor Center Plaza is an outdoor "mask zone".

 
several dozen sightseers scattered around a scenic overlook with metal guard railings around the perimeter of the viewing area.
Mather Point can become very busy during peak visitation periods.

Mather Point Overlook

Many visitors get their first view of Grand Canyon by taking a short 5 minute walk (.3 miles/.48 km) from the Visitor Center Plaza to nearby Mather Point. Mather Point is a busy scenic overlook, and is an outdoor "mask zone". Depending upon how many people are at the overlook when you arrive, you may or may not feel comfortable entering the area if it is crowded.

However, from the Visitor Center Plaza, the footpaths leadiing to Mather Point intersect with the Canyon Rim Trail, which provides excellent walks both west and east along the rim of Grand Canyon (Leashed pets are allowed on the rim trails).

 
a rustic stone building perched atop a cliff overlooking a vast landscape of colorful peaks and cliffs.
Mather Point is .7 miles (1.1 km) to Yavapai Geology Museum.
Mather Point is 2.1 miles (3.4 km) to the Historic Village.

Walking West from Mather Point on the Rim Trail

Remember: shuttle buses are not operating between Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the Village, so you must be prepared to walk back to your starting point.

  • Park at the Visitor Center and walk west to Yavapai Geology Museum and back (1.4 miles/2.25 km round trip)
  • Park at the Visitor Center and walk west to Grand Canyon Village and back (4.2 miles/6.85 km round trip)
 
Map shows spring 2021 Eastbound Kaibab Rim Route from the visitor to South Kaibab Trailhead and Pipe Creek Overlook, along with Canyon Rim Trail.
Total walking distance along the Canyon Rim Trail from Mather Point to the South Kaibab Trailhead is  2.3 miles/3.7 km one way. (4.6 miles/7.4 km round trip)

Walking East from Mather Point on the Rim Trail

Walking east from Mather Point along the paved Canyon Rim Trail offers the option of walking one way, then returning to the Visitor Center on the eastbound Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) bus.

  • The distance to the first bus stop at Pipe Creek Overlook is 1.4 miles/2.3 km (Round trip walking: 2.8 miles/4.6 km).
  • It is also possible to continue walking on the Canyon Rim Trail an additional .9 miles/1.4 km to the South Kaibab Trailhead, and, from there, take the bus to Yaki Point, then back to the Visitor Center.

    Total walking distance along the Canyon Rim Trail from Mather Point to the South Kaibab Trailhead is 2.3 miles/3.7 km one way. (4.6 miles/7.4 km round trip) More about the Canyon Rim Trail >
 
Looking over 2 dozen cars in a parking lot at a row of outdoor tables shaded by green umbrellas in front of a long building with lettering that reads, General Store.
The "General Store" is located in Market Plaza, next to the post office, bank, and Yavapai Lodge.  NPS/M.Quinn

Market Plaza

Market Plaza is the Business Center of Grand Canyon Village. Here you will find Park Headquarters, the Canyon Village Market and Deli (General Store), Chase Bank, a US Post Office, and Yavapai Lodge with a restaurant, coffee shop and tavern.

Market Plaza is within walking distance of Mather Campground .2 mile/ km and the adjacent Trailer Village RV Park. .3 mile/ km

Market Plaza's Parking lot (B), is a large lot in a central location, and a good place to park. However, during Spring 2021, (March 1, through May 28) the Village Loop (Blue Route) is not in operation. That means there is no shuttle bus service to Market Plaza, Mather Campground, or Trailer Village.

 
map of village showing 8 buildings and 3 parking lots along the edge of a canyon with a mandatory mask area shaded orange.
Map showing Grand Canyon Village Historic District. Within the designated Mandatory Mask Area, individuals over the age of two years old must wear masks, except when actively eating or drinking. Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Source: Grand Canyon National Park 2021 Compendium of Designations, Closures, Use and Activity Restriction, Permit Requirements
and Other Regulations
 

The Historic VILLAGE is a Place of Interest

The village has an historic district, visitor center, train depot, lodges, gift shops, and galleries. The VILLAGE also has great views of Grand Canyon. Once parked, walk along the rim to explore the area.

Parking is limited if you move your vehicle you may not be able to find another parking spot until late afternoon. The Village Route (BLUE) shuttle is NOT operating at this time, so be prepared to walk back to your vehicle.

 
a historic log railroad depot with the words Grand Canyon above the main entrance. In the background, an historic hotel, several stories tall.
Historic railroad depot and El Tovar Hotel in the Historic District.

Village Activity Options

  • Take a walking tour of the Historic District. Step back in time and wander through this historically preserved village dating back to the early 1900s.

    Before your visit, it is possible to view the buildings and sites that are part of the district, through our interactive map. More >
  • Another option is to park in the village and take a day hike into Grand Canyon on Bright Angel Trail. The trailhead is just west of Bright Angel Lodge and is clearly marked. It is also shown in the map above.
  • If you are not able to find a parking spot near the lodges, continue driving around the loop drive to Parking Lot D, a large lot by Maswik Lodge and the Backcountry Information Center, which is about a .3 mile walk to the canyon's rim.
 
Map showing the Trail of Time from the Historic Village to Yavapai Geology Museum
The Trail of Time begins with (1) The "Million Year Trail". It transitions from human time scales to geologic ones. The "Million Year Trail" is immediately followed by (2) the main Trail of Time where each meter equals one million years of Grand Canyon's geologic history. 1.4 miles/2.3 km each way.

Village Walking East

  • Park in the Village and Walk East along the Canyon Rim Trail from Verkamp's Visitor Center to Yavapai Geology Museum. (1.4 mile/2.3 km). This section of the rim trail, called the Trail of Time, is a geologic timeline with a series of exhibits that explain how Grand Canyon formed.
  • It is also possible to park at Yavapai Geology Museum and walk west along the Trail of Time to Grand Canyon Village, spend some time exploring the village, then return to your starting point at the Musuem.

    Remember, there is no shuttle service between the Village and Yavapai Geology Museum, so you will need to walk back to your starting point, making this a round trip of (2.8 miles/4.6 km)
 
aerial view of a scenic road through a forested area on the edge of a vast and colorful canyon
Aerial view above Hermit Road. Photo courtesy of Aerial Filmworks, all rights reserved.

Tour Scenic Hermit Road
on Free Shuttle Buses

The Hermit Rest (Red Route) shuttle bus follows the Hermit Road for 7 miles (11 km) and has spectacular views of the canyon and Colorado River. Personal vehicles are not permitted on Hermit Road between March and November.

  • In the morning, park in the village, walk to the Hermit Road Transfer Station, and tour scenic Hermit Road on the free Hermit Road shuttles.
  • It is possible to get off at one stop, enjoy a scenic walk along the Canyon Rim Trail, then get back on the bus at the next stop.
  • Hermit Road is best experienced in the morning. During Spring, expect extremely long shuttle boarding lines and wait times (between 10 am and 4 pm).
  • As an alternative to riding the shuttles, bicycle rentals are available from Bright Angel Bicycles located in the Visitor Center Plaza. Hermit Road is accessible by foot or bicycle.
 
a map showing the Grand Canyon Village Area on the left, with the 23 mile Desert View Drive drawn from left to right and ending at the Desert View settlement on the right.
 
two cars parked by the side of the road at a scenic overlook. Behind a stone guard wall, four people are viewing a colorful canyon landscape of peaks and cliffs.
Scenic 22 mile (35 km) long Desert View Drive features 6 developed canyon viewpoints, 5 unmarked pullouts, and 4 picnic areas. NPS/M.Quinn

Just One Scenic Drive in the Park

As mentioned, the 22 mile (35 km) long Desert View Drive features marvelous panoramic views of Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. There is parking at every viewpoint. It is open to private vehicles all year.

NEW: Visitors traveling to Grand Canyon National Park can enter the park through the East Entrance at Desert View. Details >

Most Desert View services remain closed at this time. Be sure to bring enough food and water for everyone in your group.

The following Desert View Services are open for visitors:
• Scenic viewpoints in the Desert View vicinity
• The Desert View parking lot and RV parking
• Restrooms located between Desert View parking lot and the canyon rim.

 
"Hikers and mules travel climbing the Chimney, a series of tight switchbacks built into a sheer cliff, the top of the South Kaibab trail
The top part of the South Kaibab Trail. Be prepared for strenuous hiking! Take water, snacks, sun protection, and dress for changes in temperatures. NPS/M.Quinn

Three Main Trails We Recommend

The Canyon Rim Trail stays along the edge and has spectacular views. Most sections of the Rim Trail do not require traction devices. The most popular sections are between Mather Point and Yavapai Geology Museum, and along Hermit Road.

Remember, the shuttle buses between Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Yavapai Geology Museum, and the Village are NOT running. Be prepared to walk back to your starting point.

The Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails descend into the canyon. Be prepared for strenuous hiking! Take water, snacks, sun protection, and dress for changes in temperatures. Watch for icy areas on the upper sections of trail. Use traction devices and trekking poles if any ice or snow is present.

We DO NOT recommend hiking to the river and back in one day.

Backcountry permits are required for overnight trips into the canyon.

 

The South Rim Pocket Map and Services Guide

Contains a map of the bus stops, parking areas, lodges, campgrounds and trails with distances. Download >

Note: the Village (Blue Route) and Westbound Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) have been removed from this spring 2021 version of the map
since they are not in operation.

 
Map showing Grand Canyon Village and Vicinity showing the two shuttle bus routes that are in service between March 1 and May 28, 2021.
A portion of the South Rim Pocket Map modified to show the shuttle bus routes the are in operation during spring 2021: Hermit Road (Red Route) shown by a red line. Eastbound Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) shown by an orange line. Click on the image to download as an accessible PDF of the entire South Rim Pocket Map (1.1 MB)

Last updated: April 14, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

928-638-7888

Contact Us