Visiting Grand Canyon During December 2023 Holidays
Like many national parks, Grand Canyon has seen a dramatic increase in visitation. The South Rim experiences crowded conditions during busy periods, including spring break, summer, fall weekends and winter holidays. You can expect:.
Long entrance station lines,
Long shuttle bus lines,
Limited parking near Grand Canyon Visitor Center,
Large crowds at popular viewpoints.
However, there are ways to navigate and avoid some of this congestion to make the most of your time on the South Rim.
Below are some tips, need to know information, and suggested activities.
Use this webcam to help time your South Rim arrival. During fall weekends and holidays, there can be long lines and up to two hour wait times between 10 am and 4 pm. This view refreshes every 5 minutes. Be sure to check the time and date in the image, to be sure it is current.
The entrance station is about 1.6 miles (2.5 km) north of the gateway town of Tusayan, Arizona, and 4.9 miles (7.8 km) south of Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
At this time, Grand Canyon National Park does not require reservations to enter the park, nor does it have timed entry.
Entrance Fees are paid at the entrance stations. It is also possible to purchase an entrance pass from third party vendors in the gateway town of Tusayan. (Between May 15, and November 30, when the North Rim is open, the pass includes admission to both South and North Rims.)
Private Vehicle ($35 valid for 7 days): admits everyone traveling with you in your personal vehicle. (up to 15 people)
Motorcycle ($30 valid for 7 days): admits motorcyclist and up to one passenger.
Individual($20 valid for 7 days): for bicyclists, hikers, and pedestrians.
Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips into Grand Canyon. Details >
Ways to Enter the South Rim of the Park
1) Take the Train
As an alternative, to driving, depart from Williams, Arizona, and ride Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim. (Distance 59.7 miles/96 km)
If you are able to take the train, you won't have to deal with entrance line waits, busy summer traffic and finding a parking place in the village. Details >
2) East Entrance Station at Desert View
Travelers arriving from the east on Interstate 40, or from Phoenix on Interstate 17, can take US 89 from Flagstaff, Arizona, north to Cameron, Arizona, then west on State Route 64, —to enter the park through the East Entrance at Desert View.
(The East Entrance has shorter wait times at the entrance station, and Desert View Point has spectacular views of the Colorado River a mile below the canyon rim).
3) South Entrance Station
The South Entrance Station, near the town of Tusayan, Arizona, receives the most traffic, and experiences long lines and up to two hour wait times between 10 am and 4 pm.
To help time your arrival, you can monitor theentrance station's webcam >
If you have purchased a pass in advance – stay in the left lane as you approach the South Entrance Station and enter through lane 1 (far left)
Prepare for Crowded Conditions
Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park during summer and fall holiday weeks can expect long lines, full parking lots and crowded conditions.
The parking lots around the Visitor Center usually fill by 12 noon. It's a good idea to arrive early (before 9:30 am) to find a parking spot and be able to make the most of your time here.
The best way to tour the village is to park your vehicle once, then ride theVillage (Blue) Route Shuttle around the South Rim.It connects the Visitor Center, lodges, campgrounds, Backcountry Information Center, and Market Plaza (Market, deli, outdoor ATM, and U.S. Post Office).
Two additional shuttle bus routes will transport you out to scenic overlooks. There is no extra fee to use the shuttle system. Paying your entrance fee entitles you and your vehicle's occupants to unlimited use of the shuttles. Details >
South Rim Village Area — Overview Map
Visitor Center Plaza- and Mather Point
Visitors entering the park through the South Entrance Station, often make the Visitor Center Plaza their first stop. Canyon views are a short walk from here.
The Four parking lots (1, 2, 3, 4) usually fill by 12 noon.
Around the village, Lots A, B, C, D provide additional free parking. (See map above).
For those visiting for the day in an RV, or pulling a trailer, three parking lots provide large pull-through spaces. Details >
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are available in and around Grand Canyon Village. Chargers are open to the public, and free of charge. Details >
Note: EV charging is not available at Desert View or on the North Rim.
Visitor Center Hours
Winter 2023-2024 Hours
The Visitor Center is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily.
Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder, the park's 20 minute orientation film, is presented —on the hour and half-hour, on the large screen in the theater. (From 10 am to 3:30 pm daily)
When the Visitor Center is closed, trip planning and hiking information is available through sidewalk signs and exhibit kiosks outside of the building.
Visitor Center Plaza Services
The Park Store is open 8 am to 6 pm daily, on the south side of theVisitor Center Plaza. The park store has:
If you have some time to explore the park, three shuttle routes serve the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal (just east of the Plaza). Arrive early and park you vehicle in one of the lots here (1, 2, 3, 4) — and leave the driving to us!
Village (Blue) Route > Transportation to lodges, campgrounds, the Backcountry Information Center and Market Plaza (market, outdoor ATM, and U.S. Post Office).
Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route >Eastbound to the South Kaibab Trailhead, Yaki Point and Pipe Creek Vista. Westbound to Mather Point and Yavapai Geology Museum.
Hikers' Express > Early morning shuttle with service from Grand Canyon Village and the Visitor Center to South Kaibab Trailhead.
From March 1 through November 30, an additional scenic shuttle route: the Hermits Rest (Red) Route is in operation, however, it does not stop at the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal.
The route begins at the western end of the Village. If you park at the Visitor Center, you can ride the Village (Blue) Route shuttle to the Village Historic District, then transfer to the Hermits Rest (Red) Route Shuttle >The route is CLOSED During Winter.
During December, January and February, it is possible to tour Hermit Road in your vehicle.
Mather Point Overlook
If you don't have a lot of time, and just want to see the canyon, take the short 5 minute walk (0.3 miles/ 0.48 km), from the Visitor Center Plaza to nearby Mather Point.
Because it is close to the Visitor Center and parking lots, Mather Point is a busy scenic overlook. Depending upon how many people are at the overlook when you arrive, you may or may not feel comfortable entering the area.
For less crowded canyon views, starting from Mather Point, it is possible to access theCanyon Rim Trail, which provides excellent scenic walks both to the west and to the east along the rim of Grand Canyon.
Market Plaza's Parking lot (B), is a large lot and is centrally located: about one mile/ 1.6 km from the Visitor Center Plaza, and one mile/ 1.6 km from the historic village. You can park your vehicle here for the day.
The Village (Blue) Route Shuttle > makes 2 stops here, and it can transport you to the Visitor Center, park lodges, campgrounds, the Village Historic District, and the Backcountry Information Center.
The Historic District is a Place of Interest
The village has an historic district, Verkamp's Visitor Center, train depot, lodges, gift shops, and galleries. The Historic District also has great views of Grand Canyon. Once parked, walk along the rim to explore the area.
Bright Angel Trailhead is also located here.
Parking is limited in the Historic District— if you move your vehicle you may not be able to find another parking spot until late in the afternoon. Park Rangers suggest parking your vehicle, then taking a walking tour, or riding the free shuttle buses out to scenic views and other South Rim locations.
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 you visit, it is possible to view the district's buildings and sites through an interactive map.More >
An audio tour of the Historic District entitled, "Full Steam Ahead", is available here on the website. You may also download the NPS Moblie App, then navigate to Grand Canyon National Park, and toggle "save this park for offline use." This will pre-download the audio tour, and you won't have to use mobile data during your visit.
As an alternative to driving around, park your vehicle once, then ride theVillage (Blue) Route Shuttle around the South Rim.It connects lodges, campgrounds, Backcountry Information Center, Visitor Center, and Market Plaza (market, outdoor ATM and post office).
Tour Hermit Road
Scenic Hermit Road begins on the west side of the Village Historic District, near Bright Angel Lodge. The road follows the canyon rim for 7 miles (11 km) out to Hermits Rest, and the Hermit Trailhead.
If you are visiting during December, January, and February, Hermit Road is open to private vehicles because there is no bus service during the winter months.
Hermit Road may be accessed throughout the year byhikers, runners and bicyclists - unless closed by incliment weather.
The Canyon Rim Trail also follows the rim of the canyon for 7.8 miles (12.6 km) alongside Hermit Road.
Walk the Trail of Time
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.
If you tire of walking, shuttle buses can return you to your starting point
Current Trail Closures
Current Transcanyon Waterline construction-related closures to Grand Canyon National Park trail and campground areas.
BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL - CLOSED
1/2 mile from the Trailhead down to the Silver Bridge, including Havasupai Gardens Campground.
CLOSURE DURATION: December 1, 2023, through April 14, 2024
TONTO TRAIL - CLOSED
East of Horn Creek to the South Kaibab Trail (the Tipoff)
CLOSURE DURATION: December 1, 2023, through April 14, 2024
PLATEAU POINT TRAIL - CLOSED
CLOSURE DURATION: October 12, 2023, through March 14, 2025
Where can people day hike - now that Bright Angel Trail is closed?
Visitors can still have a below the rim experience on the Bright Angel Trail, as it will remain open from the Trailhead to nearly 1/2 mile down the trail to the turnaround point (during the December. 1, 2023, through April 14, 2024, closure period.)
Visitors looking for longer day hikes into the canyon can hike down the South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point or Cedar Ridge and back to experience some of the steep and challenging terrain. Since there is no parking at the South Kaibab Trailhead, we suggest parking at the Visitor Center, then taking the Kaibab (Orange) Route shuttle bus to the trailhead. It is a 9-minute ride from the Visitor Center to the South Kaibab Trailhead. Details and schedule >
During the winter months, icy trail conditions are present on the upper reaches of all inner canyon trails, as well as along the Canyon Rim Trail.
Visitors should not attempt these hikes or walks without assessing conditions and managing risk by wearing foot traction and using hiking poles. Both foot traction and poles are on sale in the shops and stores throughout Grand Canyon Village. More winter hiking tips >
Desert View Scenic Drive
There is only one scenic drive on the South Rim that is open to private vehicles all year. The 23 mile (37 km) longDesert View Drivefeatures marvelous panoramic views of Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. There is parking at every viewpoint.
You can enter and exit the park through the East Entrance. Details >
Most Desert View services are open at this time. However, when touring the park, it is always a good idea to bring enough food, snacks and water for everyone in your group.