When entering Grand Canyon National Park through the South Entrance Station, the Visitor Center should be your very first stop. Here you can get information about the park, scenic overlooks, attractions and activities, hiking trails, and the free shuttle bus system. You can also pick up park maps and watch the 20 minute movie Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder.
While the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center was pretty crowded during our visit (like Disneyland crowded), we enjoyed checking out the museum-style exhibits, giant park relief map, and displays of historic artifacts. We also stopped in the Park Store across the Canyon View Information Plaza to scout souvenirs and park t-shirts before walking out to Mather Point for our first views of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon Shuttle Buses
There are four HUGE parking lots at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and it’s pretty shocking when you drive up mid-afternoon and find them completely full with cars lining the streets. Holy Moly…
Around 5.5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year and I think most of them must come during spring break! Thankfully there are free shuttle buses to take you up and down the South Rim, throughout Grand Canyon Village, and into Tusayan — and there are giant covered bus stops just outside the Visitor Center. This way you can leave your car and walk, hike, bike, or ride the shuttles.
Know Before You Go
- The entrance for the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim is located at 20 South Entrance Road, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
- A Grand Canyon National Park Vehicle Permit is $30.00 for seven days and includes both the North Rim and South Rim. It admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers.
- The National Park Service offers free admission on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the First Day of National Park Week, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day.
- The Grand Canyon South Rim, including Grand Canyon Village and Desert View, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- The Park’s Visitor Center is open from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm from May through September, and from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from October through April.
- The National Park Store is located across the Canyon View Information Plaza from the Visitor Center and is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
- During busy periods, including spring break, summer, and fall holiday weekends, parking around the visitor center is full by 10:00 am.
- A free shuttle bus system operates on the South Rim connecting the visitor center, parking lots, lodges, and campgrounds with canyon overlooks.
- Watch Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder, a 20 minute movie taking viewers on a rim to river and dawn to dusk journey through Grand Canyon National Park. Movie showings start on the hour and half-hour.
- Bike rentals, restrooms, and a coffee bar with “grab and go” food options are available.