Work is underway at Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim to help ease traffic congestion, but "progress" will mean a detour and parking changes for the next few days. Here's what you need to know if you're visiting the South Rim this week.
If you enter the park via vehicle through the south entrance—as many visitors do—you'll encounter a detour and some limitations on parking beginning on Tuesday, September 8. Areas affected by the work include the South Entrance Road, Visitor Center and Mather Point.
What's going on?
The park's South Rim Visitor Transportation Plan describes steps being taken to make getting around the park easier and "greener," and the first phase of the project is nearing completion. A key step involves rerouting part of the park's South Entrance Road. Here's information from the park about how that work will affect visitors, along with links to some useful details:
This work begins on Tuesday, September 8, and is expected to be completed no later than Friday, September 11. All vehicles, private and commercial, entering Grand Canyon Village during this transition will be diverted from the South Entrance Road onto Center Road. Drivers should watch for signs and flaggers indicating this detour and should use extreme caution on Center Road as it travels through a school zone.
For a copy of a map showing the detour, click here.
During this work, there will be no vehicular access to Mather Point, and only commercial vehicles and shuttle buses will have access to the plaza at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. All pedestrian access to Mather Point via the paved Rim Trail and the 0.2-mile walking path from the Visitor Center will remain open.
The park is aware that some visitors have mobility challenges, and they offer the following advice on getting to the visitor center:
All of the park’s free shuttle buses are fully accessible; and the mobility-impaired are encouraged to park in lot E near the Backcountry Information Center where pavement conditions and available handicapped parking provide the best access to the park’s free shuttle service. During the transition, the Visitor Center will continue to be fully accessible to the mobility-impaired via the Village Route shuttle.
You can download a park transit system map, which includes the location of all public parking lots, at this site, along with details about the park's free transportation system.
During this transition, visitors coming to the South Rim by way of Highway 64 through Tusayan, Arizona, are encouraged to take advantage of the free park-and-ride shuttle between Tusayan and the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center acts as a hub for shuttle service in the park, and visitors will able to access major trail heads, hotels and services located in the Grand Canyon Village, as well as the shuttle interchange for the Hermit Road viewpoints, from the Visitor Center shuttle stop.
This shuttle is especially recommended if you are staying overnight in Tusayan, or arriving in the area via the Grand Canyon airport. There is also designated public parking at the four shuttle stops in Tusayan. You can download a map and details about the Tusayan shuttle here.
Visitors who choose to drive their vehicles into Grand Canyon Village during this transition should expect parking to be limited and are advised to park at their hotel or campground or in one of the park’s designated parking lots upon arrival, then utilize the park’s free shuttle system to get around and to gain access to canyon viewpoints.
Beginning September 8, commercial tour vehicles will be able to park in the new commercial tour bus lot located west of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. During this brief transition period, the commercial bus lot will be accessed via the Yavapai Lodge road.
Once the transition to the new South Entrance Road alignment has been completed:
• parking at Mather Point will be re-opened with access from the west end of the parking lot only;
• the park’s free shuttle system will continue to serve the Visitor Center from the shuttle stop on the west end of the Visitor Center plaza;
• commercial tour vehicles will continue to park in the new commercial tour bus lot west of the Visitor Center and will access this parking lot via the new road alignment.
Construction on the Phase I improvements will continue once the transition to the new South Entrance Road alignment is completed. The remaining improvements include:
• the completion of three visitor parking lots that will provide convenient Visitor Center parking for up to 600 vehicles; and
• irrigation, rehabilitation and revegetation of disturbed areas.
Construction on these improvements is expected to be completed by December 2009. Current information on this project will be posted on the park’s web site.