GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – The National Park Service will again offer free shuttle bus service between Grand Canyon National Park and the neighboring town of Tusayan starting March 1. The service is available March 1 through the end of September.
Grand Canyon’s transit system has been in operation since 1974 and is one of the heaviest utilized shuttle bus systems within the National Park Service. Last year, there were approximately 7.4 million boardings on the park’s transit system, representing a reduction of 2 million short in-park car trips. There were nearly 126,000 boardings on the Tusayan Route, representing a reduction of about 21,000 cars entering the park.
Grand Canyon National Park saw an all-time visitation high of approximately 6 million people last year.
“We are pleased to provide this shuttle service to park visitors and local residents,” park Superintendent Chris Lehnertz said of the Tusayan shuttle in a press statement Wednesday. “Utilizing this service helps to reduce crowding along park roadways and reduces our carbon footprint, further protecting Grand Canyon’s unique resources. We hope everyone will continue to use and enjoy the Tusayan Route in 2017.”
All shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible and equipped with bike racks that can hold up to three bikes and are fueled with compressed natural gas, which burns cleaner.
Use of the shuttle bus service is free for visitors and is funded through park pass fees, so a valid park pass is required to board the shuttle. Park passes may include a seven -day vehicle, individual or motorcycle pass. Park passes can be purchased at any park entrance station or in various businesses in Tusayan, including RP’s Stage Stop, Canyon Plaza Resort and Red Feather Lodge. Annual and lifetime passes are also accepted.
The buses will make four stops in Tusayan, including the IMAX Theater/R.P.’s Stage Stop, Best Western Grand Squire Inn and the Big E Steakhouse and Saloon.
Those taking advantage of this voluntary service will have expedited entry into the park and will be able to connect with the park’s free shuttle bus system at Grand Canyon Visitor Center. This is especially beneficial at times like spring break, typically a busy time of year and part of the reason the shuttle service will be starting in March. During spring break – as well as other high-visitation days – visitors to the South Rim may experience wait times of more than one hour at entrance stations during the busiest times of the day, which are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For park visitors taking the shuttle bus there is unrestricted parking in Tusayan, including the park-and-ride lot on the north end of town that can also accommodate RVs and vehicles pulling trailers. Informational signs regarding the service are posted along Highway 64 south of Tusayan, as well as at various locations in Tusayan.
The first bus leaves from the IMAX Theater in Tusayan at 8 a.m. and the last at 9:45 p.m. The first bus leaves the Grand Canyon Visitor Center at 8:25 a.m. and the last at 9:30 p.m. daily. Buses run at 20-minute intervals.
Visitors who prefer to drive into the park should arrive by 9 a.m. to avoid the most crowded conditions.
Parking lots near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center start reaching capacity by 11 a.m., so guests driving RVs or those pulling trailers should park in Lot 1 near Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Lot B at Market Plaza or Lot D in the Village.
Information regarding this route and the park’s other shuttle bus routes that run throughout the South Rim area, including shuttle bus stops and parking locations, routes and schedules, is available in the “South Rim Pocket Map and Services Guide” online.