The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is visited by almost 6 million people a year! That is a LOT of people and to think about everyone driving their own vehicles though the park, impossible. Luckily, the park service has a great shuttle system to help take everyone where they want to go. We have written a little guide on getting around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park below.
The South Rim is open to vehicles year-round. It is best to drive into the Park and park at your accommodation (campground or lodge) and leave your car for the duration of your visit. There is a very efficient and free shuttle service within the Park that we recommend you use.
There are 4 parking lots in the Grand Canyon Village (numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4.) If you are driving into the Park for a day visit, you can park in any of these for free. RV Parking is only permitted in Lot 1 (Orange #1 on the map below.)
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION to the Park
There are two options to get to the South Rim from South of the Park, either Williams and/or Tusayan. From Tusayan, there is a shuttle run by the Park service that is basically a Park-and-Ride. It is called the “Tusayan Purple Route” and runs only during the Summer. This route connects this gateway city to the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center. If you are traveling into the Park from the South, this is a great option to avoid driving into the Park and dealing with day parking. This shuttle service is free, but you must purchase or show your Parks pass. Park anywhere in Tusayan (Grand Hotel, Big E Steakhouse, IMAX/R.P.’s Stage Stop, or the park-and-ride lot on the north end of town) and hop on the bus that comes every 20 minutes.
The other option if you don’t want to drive into the South Rim, is you can catch the train on the Grand Canyon Railway. This is more of an experience than , but it is worth considering as a mode of transportation into the South Rim. The train links the town of Williams, AZ and the South Rim. If you are staying in Williams and a fan of railroads, you can ride this historic trail that has been in operation since 1901 to the Park. This is a nice and relaxing way to get into the Park. The train runs from Williams to the Grand Canyon Village in the morning and back to Williams in the afternoon. This gives you about 4 hours to spend at the South Rim and in the Park. The actual train ride is about 2 hours each way and costs about $82/roundtrip.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION within the Park
Once you are in the National Park, there is free shuttle bus system at the South Rim and is 100% the way to get around. Upon entering the Park, you will receive a handout with shuttle routes. Shuttles arrive frequently, every 15 to 30 minutes and stop at most concession facilities, parking areas, campgrounds, and scenic overlooks. Shuttles generally operate from one hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset.
The Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal (next to the Visitor Center) serves as the main hub for the shuttle busses. There are 5 shuttle routes.
VILLAGE ROUTE (BLUE ROUTE)
This route is the main bus route between Visitor Center, campgrounds, lodges, restaurants, and Market Plaza where you can find a market, post office, and a bank. This is not a scenic route, but canyon views are a short walk from some stops. This route is what you will take if you are camping at Mather or Trailer Village.
KAIBAB RIM ROUTE (ORANGE ROUTE)
This route takes in Yaki Point and the South Kaibab trailhead. Pick up this loop at Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Route stops at five scenic viewpoints, Grand Canyon Visitor Center, and Yavapai Geology Museum. This route and the morning Hiker’s Express shuttle bus offer the only access to South Kaibab Trailhead.
HERMITS ROAD ROUTE (RED ROUTE) *SUMMER ONLY
This is an important route, as it provides transportation between Grand Canyon Village and Hermits Rest along a 7-mile road along the rim of the canyon with bus stops at 9 exceptional scenic overlooks. Between March and October, this route is closed to personal vehicles and is ONLY accessible by shuttle bus, food, or bike.
HIKER’S EXPRESS ROUTE
Lastly, this is an early morning bus with service to South Kaibab Trailhead. Bus departs from Bright Angel Lodge bus stop on the hour; second stop at Backcountry Information Center; third stop at Grand Canyon Visitor Center; last stop at South Kaibab Trailhead. Check departure times when you arrive, as it varies with the season.
It might look complicated, but bussed run frequently and the routes are clearly marked everywhere. The best thing about using the free shuttles at the Grand Canyon South Rim is you can park your car or leave your RV at the campground and explore on foot.