South Rim Crowding: Helpful Tips

Grand Canyon National Park is continuing to evaluate and adapt to changing COVID-19 guidance, and is adjusting operations as needed. The information presented here is primarily to help you plan a visit during 2021.

Visit this web page for the current list of what is open, and for park-wide updates >

Information On This Page Navigation

photo on left shows line of cars entering the park. Photo on right shows group of people at overlook

Visiting During Busy Periods

The information on this page describes a "normal" busy season on the South Rim.

For a detailed list of what is open now, and what remains closed during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Visit this link

Like other national parks, Grand Canyon has seen a dramatic increase in visitation over the last few years. The South Rim experiences crowded conditions during busy periods throughout the year, including spring break, summer, and holiday times during fall and winter. 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. Here are some tips:
Early morning view of Grand Canyon from village historic district

1) Driving Your Vehicle into the Park?

Plan on Arriving Early — By 9 am — If Possible. Or Later in the Day — After 4 pm

  • As you drive into the Village area from the South Entrance Station, or from Desert View Drive, (Hwy 64) signs will direct you to the Visitor Center complex (right side of map below)
  • Arriving early will enable you to find a parking spot by the visitor center and get out walking along the Rim Trail - or riding a free shuttle bus from the visitor center out to scenic overlooks.
Grand Canyon village parking map shows parking lots 1-4 and A-D
Parking lots that have space for RVs or vehicles pulling trailers are show by green arrows.

2) After 10 am Parking Lots Fill Around the Visitor Center.

  • When visitor center parking lots 1–4 fill, proceed to village lots A, B, C, or D.
  • Lots A and B are in the Market Plaza area and are closer to the visitor center.
  • Lots C and D are in the Village Historic District.
  • RVs and vehicles with trailers should park in lots B or D. The back section of lot D has dedicated RV and trailer parking. Lots A and C do NOT have room for RVs and trailers. RVs and trailers should NOT pull across multiple regular parking spaces
  • Village Route (blue) shuttle bus stops are located in or near lots A, B, C, or D.
  • Rim Trail access is within walking distance of lots A, B, C, or D .
Several people walking along the Canyon Rim Trail on the right. Grand Canyon is visible on the left.
Park your car and take a walk along the Rim Trail.

3) Visiting the South Rim with 3 Hours or Less?

  • Park your car at Grand Canyon Visitor Center or nearby Market Plaza parking lots A or B (depending on the time of day)
  • Take a walk along the Canyon Rim Trail.
  • Or, ride a shuttle bus to the canyon rim. From the Visitor Center, take the Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) to Yaki Point, away from the Visitor Center congestion.

    With limited time, the Kaibab Rim (Orange Route) is the fastest way get from the Visitor Center to exceptional canyon views. Take the eastbound bus to Yaki Point and the South Kaibab Trailhead, or westbound bus to Yavapai Geology Museum.
Rising from the floor of a vast canyon, a rugged peak that is connected to the canyon's rim by a v-shaped saddle.
Seen from Desert View Drive, Coronado Butte, a peak within Grand Canyon connected to the South Rim by a V-shaped saddle.

4) Arriving in the Afternoon with 4 or 5 Hours?

  • Park your vehicle in one of the village lots, and take a walk along the Canyon Rim Trail or cycle along Hermit Road. At the Visitor Center, bicycle rentals are available.
  • Or, from Grand Canyon Village, you can drive your vehicle on the Desert View Drive portion of SR 64, 25 miles (40 km) to Desert View. There are 11 scenic overlooks.

    Parking lots at Grandview and Lipan points may be full, but there is often parking available at some of the other viewpoints along this road.

    Desert View itself has a large parking lot and features broad, expansive views of Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.
An expansive view of Grand Canyon from Desert View with the Watchtower in the upper left, perched on the edge of a cliff
Desert View Point, 25 miles/ 41 km east of Grand Canyon Village, offers expansive views of Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

Enter the Park at Desert View, If You Are Approaching Grand Canyon from the East.

5) Note: The East Entrance to the park at Desert View, and most Desert View facilities are CLOSED because of COVID-19 concerns on the Navajo Nation.

You must use the South Entrance near the town of Tusayan to enter and exit the park. (12/1/2020)

  • Desert View is less crowded than Grand Canyon Village (25 miles/ 41 km to the west.) There is ample parking at Desert View
  • Desert View Point features expansive views of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon geology
  • Park ranger programs and cultural demonstrations are presented
  • Visit the historic Watchtower for sweeping panoramic views of the canyon.
  • The nearby Tusayan Museum highlights the story of the Ancestral Puebloan Peoples of the region (3 miles - 5 km west of Desert View)
  • If you plan to continue driving the 25 miles/ 41 km to Grand Canyon Village, time your travel so you arrive in Grand Canyon Village after 4 pm, as the crowds are thinning out.
Left: Hermit Road shuttle boarding. Right: Scenic view of Grand Canyon from Hermit Road early in the morning.

6) Tips for Touring Scenic Hermit Road

  • Hermit Road is open to all vehicles during the months of December, January and February. There is no shuttle service during these months.
  • Between March 1 and November 30, ride the free Hermits Road (Red Route) Shuttle to the scenic viewpoints.
  • Best time to tour Hermit Road is in the morning.
  • By late morning shuttle bus boarding lines are long. A wait of 25–30 minutes (two to three buses) is common throughout the afternoon.
  • Try getting off the bus at one stop, enjoy a scenic walk along the rim, then get back on the bus at the next stop.
Four long lines of cars waiting to enter the park at an entrance station; a white and green bus traveling by itself in a bypass lane. Marque sign reads "Tusayan." Text: Why drive when you can ride? Ride the shuttle.
Tusayan shuttle (Purple Route) connects the gateway community of Tusayan with the park's Visitor Center. The shuttle can bypass the entrance station in a special lane.

During the Summer, Park in Tusayan and Ride the Free Shuttle into the Park

7) Tusayan Route Shuttle Bus - Out of Service

The Tusayan Shuttle is scheduled to resume during the Summer of 2021

In an effort to help keep park visitors and employees safe from the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) South Rim Shuttles are running on a modified schedule. Visit this link for details >

During the Summer - Park in the Gateway Community of Tusayan

  • Ride the free Tusayan Route (purple) shuttle bus into the park, and bypass the wait at the entrance gate.
  • Shuttles run every 20 minutes between 8 am and 9:30 pm. (20 minutes transit time to the Visitor Center.)
  • You must present a valid park entrance pass when boarding the bus.
  • You can buy an entrance pass online on

    An online pass will admit everyone traveling with you in your car or personal vehicle. More About Buying Your Pass Online >

    National Geographic Visitor Center (IMAX Theater)
    {accepts checks and credit cards}
    Vehicle ($35)
    Motorcycle ($30)
    Individual ($20)
    Interagency Annual ($80)

    Grand Canyon South Rim Chamber of Commerce
    (928) 638-2901

    Vehicle ($35)
    Individual ($20) permits.
    Interagency Annual ($80)
    These Tusayan locations sell
    Vehicle ($35)
    Individual ($20)

    Canyon Plaza Resort
    Pink Jeep Tours

    Red Feather Lodge
    West Wind Air Service

    Learn more about annual and lifetime park passes
A dramatic red sunset as seen looking east from Yaki Point with stark blue clouds and a trace of a rainbow.
The Kaibab/Rim Route (orange) shuttle bus provides the only access to Yaki Point, a popular sunset location.

8) Less Crowded Sunset Locations

  • If you are riding the Hermits Rest Route (red) shuttle bus, watch sunset from Mohave or Powell points.
  • From the visitor center, Take the Kaibab/Rim Route (orange) to Yaki Point.
  • Drive your private vehicle out along Desert View Drive.

    The East Entrance to the park at Desert View remains Closed (12/1/20) However, you can visit and watch sunset from Grandview, Moran, Lipan, Navajo, or Desert View Point — However you must return to Grand Canyon Village and exit the park through the South Entrance (Tusayan).
Diesel locomotive pulling 10 passenger cars around a curve to the right through pinyon-juniper woodlands south of Grand Canyon
Photo: Grand Canyon Railroad

9) Take the Train

Consider taking the historic train from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of Grand Canyon.


Last updated: January 4, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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