With limited parking and strict traffic regulations, exploring the Grand Canyon can be a challenging experience for many visitors. To alleviate this issue, Grand Canyon shuttle services have become popular among visitors, offering an efficient and eco-friendly way to navigate the park’s vast expanse.
In this article, we discuss tips for using shuttle services when visiting the Grand Canyon and provide information on how to make the most of your visit during Spring Break.
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Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park can expect long lines and full parking lots during the spring break season, which spans from early March through mid-April.
As a result of increased visitation, traffic regularly backs up at all entrance stations, says a media release from National Park officials. With wait times of up to one to two hours between 10 am and 4 pm, parking lots begin reaching capacity by 12 pm, and shuttle bus wait times may be prolonged.
Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon During Spring Break
Please follow these tips suggested by Grand Canyon Park experts as you prepare to visit the South Rim:
- Arrive early—before 9 a.m. or later in the day—after 5 pm
- Monitor the South Entrance Station Webcam to help time your arrival
- Buy your park pass online at rec.gov or in Tusayan at one of the following businesses – IMAX Theater, Canyon Plaza Resort, Red Feather Lodge, and Westwind Air Service
- Passholders should use lane 1 at the South Entrance Station for shorter wait times
- The Hermit Road scenic drive is best experienced early in the morning and gets crowded by midday
- Consider taking the train from Williams, Ariz.
- If arriving from the east on Interstate 40 or from Phoenix on Interstate 17, consider taking US 89 from Flagstaff north to Cameron, Ariz. and then west on State Route 64, where you can enjoy first views of the Grand Canyon from Desert View
- Park campgrounds and lodging fill months in advance. Check availability and make reservations before you arrive.
Spring Break Shuttle Bus Updates
Three shuttle bus routes will operate on the South Rim between March 1 and May 27, 2023.
The routes in operation include:
- the Kaibab Rim Route (Orange Route), with bus service at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center east to the South Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point;
- the Village Route (Blue Route), providing bus service to primary visitor facilities; and
- the Hermits Rest Route (Red Route) providing service from the Village along the west rim to Hermits Rest.
All routes will start at 4:30 am. The Kaibab Rim and Hermits Rest routes will operate until one hour after sunset. The Village Route will run until 10 pm.
South Kaibab Trail day hikers can park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and ride the Kaibab Rim Route (Orange Route) eastbound bus to the trailhead. Buses operate every 10-15 minutes.
Hikers’ Express Bus: Bright Angel Lodge to the South Kaibab Trailhead
Overnight backpackers and day hikers can take the Hikers’ Express Bus to the South Kaibab Trailhead from the Bright Angel Lodge during March, April and May at the following times:
- March – 7, 8, and 9 am
- April – 6, 7, and 8 am
- May – 5, 6, and 7 am
The Hikers’ Express Bus also stops at the Backcountry Information Center and Grand Canyon Visitor Center on its way to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
Spring break travelers to Northern Arizona should anticipate winter-like conditions and unpredictable weather. Trails descending into the inner canyon from the South Rim (including the Bright Angel and South Kaibab) are all north facing and will remain icy and snow packed through much of the spring. Hikers should not walk on icy trails without assessing conditions and managing risk with foot traction and hiking poles.
More info on Grand Canyon shuttle bus system
For more information on Grand Canyon’s shuttle bus system, please visit the park’s shuttle bus webpage. In addition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health measures may be in place, including capacity limits, temporary closures and modified operations. Please visit the website here for a list of what is open and what is closed in Grand Canyon National Park.
For more information on visiting the South Rim during busy periods, please visit www.nps.gov/grca/
How to Schedule Rim-to-Rim Shuttle Service
Between May 15 and October 15, the Trans-Canyon Shuttle provides daily scheduled shuttle service between the North and South Rims.
Reservations are required
Reservations are required, so call 928-638-2820 for the trans-canyon shuttle. Transit time is approximately 4.5 hours one way, so plan accordingly.
This service is also available for hikers with backcountry permits (when the North Rim lodge is closed between October 16 through November 30.) Call for details: 928-638-2820.
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was NOT provided with accommodations, meals or other compensation for the purpose of this guide. The Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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