South Rim Crowding: A Survival Guide

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

Visiting During Busy Periods

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:
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  • 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:
 
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.
 

1) Park in Tusayan and Ride the Free Shuttle into the Park

In Service as of March 1, 2019.

During the Spring Break and 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 at https://yourpassnow.com/ParkPass/park/grca
    An online pass will admit everyone traveling with you in your car or personal vehicle.
    .
    National Geographic Visitor Center (IMAX Theater)
    {accepts checks and credit cards}
    Vehicle ($35)
    Motorcycle ($30)
    Individual ($20)

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

    Vehicle ($35)
    Individual ($20) permits.
    Annual ($80) America the Beautiful pass
    .
    These Tusayan locations sell
    Vehicle ($35)
    Individual ($20)

    R.P.'s Stage Stop
    Red Feather Lodge
    Canyon Plaza Resort


    Learn more about annual and lifetime park passes
 
Early morning view of Grand Canyon from village historic district
 

2) Planning to Drive Your Vehicle into the Park?

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

 
Grand Canyon village parking map shows parking lots 1-4 and A-D
 

3) After 10 am Parking Becomes Limited 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 .
 
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.
 

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

  • 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.
 

5) Tips for Touring Scenic Hermit Road

  • Road is closed to private vehicles between March and November
  • Ride free Hermits Route (Red) shuttle to the scenic viewpoints.
  • Best time to tour 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.
 
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.
 

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

  • Park your car at Grand Canyon Visitor Center or parking lots A or B (depending on the time of day) and take a walk along the Rim Trail.
  • Wanting to ride a shuttle bus to the canyon rim? - From the visitor center, take the Kaibab/Rim Route (orange) to Yaki Point, away from the village congestion.
 
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.
 

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

  • Leave your car and shuttle buses behind and take a walk along the Rim Trail or cycle along Hermit Road.
  • Take your private vehicle out along Desert View Drive. Grandview and Lipan points may be full, but there is typically 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.
 
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

 
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. http://www.thetrain.com/

 
 

Last updated: March 7, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

(928) 638-7888

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