GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Grand Canyon National Park has seen a 20 percent increase in visitation this year, compared to last year. As a result, traffic regularly backs up at the entrance stations.
The longest wait time at the entrance stations are between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and can last 30 minutes or more, particularly on weekends.
Once in the park, visitors can also expect parking lots, especially at Grand Canyon Visitor Center, to start reaching capacity by 10 a.m.
Typically, July is the busiest month of the year at Grand Canyon and with Independence Day falling on Saturday this year the park is thanking the public for their patience.
"We are expecting record-shattering numbers Thursday through Monday that weekend," said Marlon Avantyr revenue and fee business manager. "Thanks for being patient with the rangers working the entrance stations."
To reduce some of the wait time at the South Rim Entrance Station, and for stress-free parking, the park encourages visitors to leave their vehicles in Tusayan and use the park and ride shuttle to get into the park.
The Tusayan Route provides shuttle service between the gateway community of Tusayan and the national park. The shuttles leave every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.; the bus makes four stops in Tusayan before dropping passengers off at Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
From the visitor center, visitors can then access trails, viewpoints and in-park shuttle bus routes. Visitors riding the Tusayan Route must present a valid park entrance pass when boarding the bus and can purchase passes at six different locations in Tusayan.
Once in the park, visitors riding the shuttle bus on the Hermits Rest (Red) Route will also experience long waits from late morning until sunset, waiting in line for two or three buses. Pamela Edwards, Grand Canyon National Park concessions program analyst suggests utilizing the Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route in the morning, driving along scenic Desert View Drive any time of the day, and walking or cycling along the rim-based trails system to leave some of the crowds behind, allowing for a more personal connection with Grand Canyon.
More information about the shuttle system at Grand Canyon National Park can be found by visiting http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/shuttle-buses.htm.a>
For detailed visitor statistics, visit