Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona are being warned of long lines and crowded parking lots during the spring break season, which runs from early March through mid-April.
The increased visitation means that traffic regularly backs up at all entrance stations, with wait times of up to one to two hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Parking lots also reach capacity by 12 p.m. and shuttle bus wait times may be prolonged.
To avoid the crowds, visitors are advised to arrive early before 9 a.m. or later in the day after 5 p.m. Visitors can also monitor the South Entrance Station Webcam to help time with visitors’ arrival.
It is also recommended to buy a 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.
For passholders, using lane 1 at the South Entrance Station is recommended for shorter wait times. The Hermit Road scenic drive is best experienced early in the morning and gets crowded by midday. Visitors can also consider taking the train from Williams, Arizona.
When arriving from the east on Interstate 40 or from Phoenix on Interstate 17, it is suggested to consider taking US 89 from Flagstaff north to Cameron, Arizona, and then west on State Route 64, where visitors can enjoy the first views of the Grand Canyon from Desert View.
Park campgrounds and lodging fill months in advance, so check availability and make reservations before visiting.
To manage the crowds, three shuttle bus routes will operate on the South Rim between March 1 and May 27, 2023.
The routes 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 a.m. The Kaibab Rim and Hermits Rest routes will operate until one hour after sunset, while the Village Route will operate until 10 p.m.
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.
Meanwhile, 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 specific times.
Visitors should anticipate winter-like conditions and unpredictable weather, with trails descending into the inner canyon from the South Rim (including the Bright Angel and South Kaibab) remaining 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.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health measures may be in place, including capacity limits, temporary closures, and modified operations.
For more information on the Grand Canyon’s shuttle bus system and what is open and closed in the park, please visit the park’s website. For more information on visiting the South Rim during busy periods, visit www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/sr-tips.htm.
Visitors can now plan their trip to the park during the busy spring break season by providing them with tips on how to avoid crowds and long wait times. This is beneficial for outdoor recreation companies, as they can help their customers plan their trip accordingly and ensure that they have a positive experience.
Additionally, information about winter-like conditions and unpredictable weather can help outdoor recreation companies and hospitality providers to better prepare their guests for their trip, ensuring that they have the appropriate gear and equipment to enjoy the park safely and comfortably.