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Tue, June 15

What you need to know about visiting Grand Canyon during the summer

Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park can expect to see large crowds during the busier summer season and over holiday weekends. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park can expect to see large crowds during the busier summer season and over holiday weekends. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park this summer season can expect long lines, full parking lots and crowded conditions.

According to Grand Canyon National Park, visitors should make sure to plan ahead before visiting the park.

Additionally, the National Park Service (NPS) released new mask guidelines May 19 for Grand Canyon — wearing a mask is no longer a requirement in many buildings or outdoor spaces in and around the park.

The guidelines were released to follow new information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that fully-vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, which includes local businesses and workplace guidance.

The park stated that all people, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and in healthcare settings on Department of the Interior lands, which applies to the Grand Canyon shuttle bus system.

Know before you go

Grand Canyon National Park suggests the following travelling tips prior to visiting the park:

• Make sure you’re ready for your visit by checking the park website to begin planning your trip. Public health measures are in place including capacity limits, temporary closures, and modified operations.

• The South Rim Entrance Station experiences long lines and visitors can expect to wait up to two hours to enter the park between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Visitors traveling to the area from Highway 89 can enter the park through the East Entrance at Desert View for shorter wait times. Currently, Grand Canyon National Park does not require reservations or timed entry.

• To reduce wait times at the South Rim Entrance station, buy your park pass online at Your Pass Now, www.recreation.gov or in Tusayan at one of the following businesses: the IMAX Theater, Tusayan Chamber of Commerce Office, Canyon Plaza Resort, Red Feather Lodge, and Westwind Air Service. Once you have purchased your pass, proceed to the South Rim Entrance Station and use the left lane as you approach and enter through Lane 1.

Parking lots will fill throughout the South Rim by noon. Visitors should consider arriving early (before 8 a.m.) or later (after 6 p.m.) to avoid the worst congestion.

The following summer shuttle bus operations will be in effect from May 29-Sept. 10:

Passenger capacity is limited to 20 people per bus, face coverings are required on the bus, and passengers must enter and exit through the rear door only.

The Village Route (Blue Route), the Kaibab Rim Route Westbound, and the Tusayan Route (Purple Route) will not operate until further notice.

The Hermits Rest Route (Red Route), servicing Hermit Road west of Grand Canyon Village, will operate from 4 a.m. until one hour after sunset. The Hermit Road remains closed to all private vehicles.

There will be a Grand Canyon Visitor Center (Visitor Center) to Hermit Road Express Bus from 12-8 p.m. It will go directly between the Visitor Center and the Hermit Road Interchange and will not make any other stops.

Visitors wanting to access Hermit Road via the park’s shuttle system, should park in lots C or D near the Backcountry Information Center or take the Visitor Center-Hermit Road Express Bus between 12-8 p.m. Visitors can also ride their bikes to Hermit Road from the Visitor Center, a one-way distance of 2.5 miles/4 km.

The Kaibab Rim Route Eastbound (Orange Route), servicing the Visitor Center to the South Kaibab Trailhead will also operate from 4 a.m. until one hour after sunset.

The early morning Hikers’ Express Bus will operate and will run directly from the Backcountry Information Center near the Maswik Lodge to the South Kaibab Trailhead on the following schedule:

May and September - 5, 6 and 7 a.m.

June, July and August - 4, 5 and 6 a.m.

Backcountry hiking

Prepare for an inner canyon hike by reading the Hiking Tips page and check the Backcountry Updates and Closures page for current information on trail conditions and situations affecting the backcountry. Be aware that efforts to assist you may be delayed during the summer months due to limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.

Desert View Drive is open to private vehicles year-round. Avoid congestion in Grand Canyon Village and enjoy 23 scenic miles between the Village and the East Entrance at Desert View.

Stay on designated trails and walkways and always keep a safe distance from the edge of the rim. Do not climb over railings or barriers.

Stay a safe distance away from and never feed or water any wildlife.

More information on visiting the South Rim during the summer of 2021 is available at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/sr-tips.htm

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