Grand Canyon National Park is world famous for its hiking, backpacking, and, due to the magnificent vistas, photography and sightseeing.
If you plan to visit the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park during the popular spring break time frame, you’ll also experience crowds; large crowds.
“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,” explains a statement from the Grand Canyon’s office of communications. “As a result of increased visitation, traffic regularly backs up at all entrance stations, with wait times of up to 1–2 hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Furthermore, parking lots begin reaching capacity by 12 p.m. and shuttle bus wait times may be prolonged.”
Fortunately, the staff at Grand Canyon National Park has released some tips for visiting the national park during the busy spring break season. They have also released important updates about the park’s shuttle bus schedule for 2023.
If you plan to visit the South Rim during the busy spring break season, the staff at Grand Canyon National Park asks you to follow these tips.
1. Arrive Early
To minimize your time spent waiting in line or looking for parking, it’s best to arrive at the park before 9 a.m. or later in the afternoon, preferably after 5 p.m.
2. Monitor The South Entrance Station Webcam
During spring break, there are often long lines at the South Rim’s South Entrance Station, which is about 1.6 miles north of Tusayan, Arizona. In fact, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., there is often a 2-hour wait to enter the park at this entrance.
Park staff encourages visitors to monitor the South Entrance Station webcam so they can better time their arrival and minimize their time spent waiting in traffic. Importantly, the view from the webcam refreshes every minute.
3. Buy Park Passes In Advance
To make entering Grand Canyon National Park quicker, park staff recommends buying your park pass in advance.
Park passes can be purchased online at Recreation.gov or at The Grand Canyon IMAX Theater, Canyon Plaza Resort, Red Feather Lodge, or Westwind Air Service.
For shorter wait times, pass holders should use Lane 1 at the South Entrance Station.
4. Visit The Hermit Road Early
The Hermit Road scenic drive gets crowded by midday. Park staff explains that the road is best experienced early in the morning.
5. Consider Taking The Train
Another way to beat the crowds while enjoying the scenery is to take a train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway. The train departs from Williams, Arizona, about 30 miles west of Flagstaff, and arrives at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at the Grand Canyon Depot.
6. Know Where You Will Stay
Park campgrounds and lodging at Grand Canyon fill months in advance. Be sure to check lodging and camping availability and then make reservations before traveling to the park.
Important Shuttle Bus Updates
Three shuttle bus routes will operate on the South Rim between March 1 and May 27, 2023.
The routes are:
- 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) provides bus service to primary visitor facilities.
- The Hermits Rest Route (Red Route) provides service from the Village along the West Rim to Hermits Rest.
All routes will begin service at 4:30 a.m. The Kaibab Rim and Hermits Rest routes will operate until 1 hour after sunset, while the Village Route will operate until 10 p.m.
Importantly, South Kaibab Trail day hikers should park their vehicles at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and take the eastbound Orange Route bus to the trailhead. The buses operate every 10–15 minutes.
You can learn more about the buses and their routes at South Rim Shuttle Bus Routes: Spring 2023.
Know Before You Go
If you plan to visit Grand Canyon National Park over spring break, you’ll need to prepare for winter-like conditions and unpredictable weather.
Keep in mind that trails descending into the inner canyon from the South Rim — including the enormously popular Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails — face north and will remain icy and snow-packed for much of the spring. Rangers remind hikers to not walk on icy trails without first assessing conditions. Use foot traction and hiking poles to mitigate risk.
You can learn more about visiting the South Rim during spring break at South Rim — 2023 Spring Break Tips.
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