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, 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.
Below are some tips, need to know information, and suggested activities.
Entrance Fees and Passes
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 a digital pass online through YourPassNow , or from third party vendors in the gateway town of Tusayan. During spring break, an entrance pass is for the South Rim. (After May 15, when the North Rim opens for the season, the pass includes both the 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.
At park Entrance Stations, credit and debit cards, digital passes, and America the Beautiful passes are accepted for entry. Cash is not being accepted at this time.
Annual passes are also on sale at all park entrance stations.
Holiday Weeks Are Busy on the South Rim
Know where you will spend the night.Campgrounds and lodges book up. If you want to stay overnight inside the park, check availability and make reservations before you arrive.
Camping in the park is only allowed in designated sites within designated campgrounds. Camping is not permitted along roadsides, at overlooks, pullouts, trailheads or other parking areas.
Note: the information on this page is about visiting the South Rim. If you are considering a trip to the North Rim, during the 2023 season, visit this link >(The North Rim is Closed for the Winter between December 1, 2022, through May 15, 2023).
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 3 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 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. Face masks may be required while on the buses. 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 >
Visitor Center Hours
Face masks are required inside park buildings when Coconino County CDC COVID-19 levels are in HIGH. Check the alert at the top of the page for our current status.
Trip planning and hiking information is also available through signs and exhibits outside of the building — and at other key locations throughout the park.
Visitor Center Plaza Services
Within theVisitor Center Plaza, the Park Store is open 8 am to 6 pm daily. The Park Store features a wide variety of books, maps, souvenirs, and gifts. The store also has a Passport Stamp Station, Junior Ranger Books/Badges, and Grand Canyon National Park B.A.R.K. Ranger Dog Tags >
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.
Tusayan (Purple) Route service has ended. Service will resume during the summer of 2023.
From March 1 through November 30, an additional scenic shuttle route: the Hermit Road (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 Hermit Road (Red) Route Shuttle >
Note, this route does not operate during winter months. It is in service March 1, through November 30, 2023. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles during this time.
Mask wearing inside the shuttles is strongly encouraged when Coconino County COVID-19 levels are HIGH. Check the alert at the top of the page for our current status.
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.
Hermit Road is open to private vehiclesduring December, January and February, when there is no shuttle bus service.
Hermit Road is accessed throughout the year byhikers, runners and bicyclists.
Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles between March 1 and November 30. During this 9 month period, most visitors access the road via the free Hermit (Red Route) Shuttle bus >
Bright Angel Trail
If you can set aside 4 to 8 hours, 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 on the map above.
If you are not able to find a parking spot near Bright Angel Trailhead, continue driving around the Village Loop Drive to Parking Lot D — a large lot by Maswik Lodge and the Backcountry Information Center. From Lot D, it is about a 0.4 mile/0.65 km walk to the canyon's rim and Bright Angel Trailhead.
Bright Angel Trail is considered the park’s premier hiking trail; the best trail for first-time hikers. Between November and April, water is only available at the trailhead in the village, and at Havasupai Gardens.
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
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.
Visitors can enter and exit the park through the East Entrance at Desert View.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.