TUSAYAN, Ariz. — Vehicle congestion in Grand Canyon National Park is an ongoing concern for both the National Park Service (NPS) and visitors on a time schedule.
During peak visiting season, lines are long at the entrance stations and parking is difficult to find at the South Rim. To save visitors time and eliminate some vehicle congestion within the park, the Grand Canyon traansit system will resume operation of its Tusayan shuttle bus March 1 through Sept. 30.
Pamela Edwards, concessions program analyst, said the peak tourist season after Memorial Day is extremely crowded and urges any visitors who are able to park in Tusayan and take a shuttle bus into the park.
The purple Tusayan Route provides shuttle bus service daily, with shuttles running approximately every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Visitors can park for free at any business in Tusayan. The shuttle stops at four locations on Highway 64 in Tusayan: Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn, Grand Hotel, Big E Steakhouse and Saloon, the National Geographic IMAX Experience. There is also a park and ride lot located at the north end of town, which has additional space for RVs and vehicles with trailers, which have limited parking options in the park.
Visitors entering the park from Tusayan must present a valid park entrance pass when boarding the shuttle bus — seven-day vehicle, motorcycle or individual passes, as well as annual and lifetime passes are accepted. One seven-day vehicle pass is valid for the entire family. These passes can be purchased at any park entrance station or at various businesses around Tusayan, including the National Geographic IMAX Experience, RP’s Stage Stop, Red Feather Lodge, Canyon Plaza Resort, and Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn.
After making four stops in Tusayan, the shuttle bus will go straight to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, where riders can access hiking and biking trails or transfer to other routes on the park’s transit system.
For visitors who prefer to drive into the park, Edwards recommends arriving before 9 a.m. to avoid most of the crowds.
“Peak visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and visitors can expect to wait an hour or more during those times,” Edwards said. “Parking lots, especially near the Visitor Center, start reaching capacity by around 11 a.m.”
Edwards said more than 126,000 visitors boarded the Tusayan shuttle last year, representing a reduction of around 21,000 vehicles entering the park.
More information about the Tusayan Route and Grand Canyon’s transit system is available at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/shuttle-buses.htm. Congestion tips can be found at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/sr-tips.htm. For parking and road conditions, go to @Grand Canyon NPS on Twitter.