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Top 10 Tips for Visiting Grand Canyon

a crowd of sightseers behind railings at a scenic overlook. Distant peaks within a vast canyon are being illuminated by golden sunset light.
Many visitors get their first view of Grand Canyon by taking a short 5 minute walk (.3 miles/.48 km) from the Visitor Center Plaza to nearby Mather Point. Depending upon how many people are at the overlook when you arrive, you may or may not feel comfortable entering the area if it is crowded. NPS/photo

At this time, Grand Canyon National Park does not require reservations to enter the park, nor does it have timed entry.

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us —followed by summer, we want everyone to have a positive park experience. Advanced trip planning can help to ensure that your only surprises are pleasant ones. In that spirit, here is our Top 10 List for how to get the most out of your visit.

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Review our Park Operations Webpage for current information and hours of operation. Updated daily.

Information about:

The NPS App is the new official app for the National Park Service with tools to explore Grand Canyon and more than 400 national parks nationwide. Find interactive maps, tours of park places, on-the-ground accessibility information, and much more to plan your national park adventures before and during your trip. Details >
Park campgrounds and lodging fill months in advance. Check availability and make reservations before you arrive.

Lodging

Campgrounds

Camping in the park is only allowed in designated sites within designated campgrounds. Camping is not permitted along roadsides, at overlooks, pullouts, trailheads or other parking areas.

Backcountry camping overnight inside Grand Canyon requires a backcountry permit. Details >
Currently, Grand Canyon National Park does not require reservations or timed entry.

During the summer and hoiday periods, the South Rim Entrance Station experiences long lines and visitors can expect to wait in line for up to two hours to enter the park between 9:30 am to 4 pm.

To help reduce wait times at the South Rim Entrance station, buy your park pass online at Your Pass Now, or from these businesses in the gateway community of Tusayan: the IMAX Theater, Tusayan Chamber of Commerce Office, Canyon Plaza Resort, Red Feather Lodge, and Westwind Air Service (located in the Grand Canyon Airport Terminal).

At the Entrance Stations, credit and debit cards, digital passes, and America the Beautiful passes are accepted for entry. Cash is not being accepted at this time. More about passes and entrance fees >

Travelers arriving from the east on Interstate 40, or from Phoenix on Interstate 17, can take US 89 from Flagstaff, Arizona, north to Cameron, Arizona, then west on State Route 64, —to enter the park through the East Entrance at Desert View (for shorter wait times at the entrance station, and some of the best views of the Colorado River).
Observe posted speed limits and use pullouts to watch wildlife, take pictures, and to let other cars pass.
  • Make sure nothing is hanging beneath your vehicle and dragging on the pavement.
  • Park on pavement. Don’t park off road in grass or other vegetation, as the heat from a vehicle’s undercarriage can start a fire.
  • Parking lots around the Visitor Center Plaza often fill by mid-day. Here's how to find additional nearby parking. Details >
  • Visiting for the day in an RV, or pulling a trailer? There are three parking lots with large pull-through spaces. Details >
  • Passenger capacity is limited. Masks or face coverings may be required on the bus.
  • The Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route, with service from the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal to South Kaibab Trailhead, Yaki Point, Mather Point and Yavapai Geology Museum is in operation from 4:30 am until one hour after sunset.
  • The Village (Blue) Route connects the Visitor Center Plaza with lodges, campgrounds, the Backcountry Information Center, and Market Plaza (market, bank, and post office).
  • The Hermits Road (Red) Route begins at the Hermit Road Interchange, on the west side of the Village Historic District, then travels along a 7 mile scenic road with outstanding views of Grand Canyon. Round trip takes 80 minutes (without getting off the bus). In service from 4:30 am until one hour after sunset.
  • The early morning Hikers' Express Bus makes 3 stops in Grand Canyon Village then travels to the South Kaibab Trailhead:
  • Between May 28, and September 9, 2022, you can bypass the wait at the entrance station by parking in the gatway community of Tusayan and riding the free Tusayan (Purple) Route into the park.

    The shuttle runs at 20-minute intervals between 8 am and 9:30 pm and you must present a valid park entrance pass when boarding the bus. Entrance passes may be purchased online, or from vending machines at bus stops in town.
Below the canyon rim, the hot desert environment is hard on pets. Dogs and other pets are not allowed on inner canyon trails, even when carried.
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Inner canyon trails are narrow and well-travelled. Pets can be unpredictable on a trail. Hikers, runners or wildlife can spook them, and cause an accident.

*Special note: While pets are never allowed below the rim of Grand Canyon, service animals are permitted if they are assisting their humans who have disabilities. It is highly recommended for the safety of your service dog that you check in with the Backcountry Information Center to learn how you can mitigate specific hazards posed by hiking on the park's inner canyon trails.

On the South Rim
  • Leashed pets are allowed on trails above the rim, in Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village, and throughout developed areas. The South Rim Kennel is open 7 days/week and can provide a safe place for your furry friend to stay while you explore all Grand Canyon has to offer.
On the North Rim
  • Leashed pets are only allowed on the bridle trail (greenway) that connects the North Kaibab Trail, and the portion of the Arizona Trail north to the park entrance station. There is no Kennel on the North Rim.
More about bringing you pet to Grand Canyon >

Grand Canyon National Park B.A.R.K. Ranger Dog Tags >
People have been injured by squirrels, bison, deer and elk.

Never approach elk, they are wild animals and weigh as much as a small car. Females will kick with their front legs to defend their babies - and that kick can crush a human skull.

Bites on the hand from overly aggressive squirrels are the most common wildlife injury experienced by visitors. Their sharp teeth crack nuts — and cut fingers. Bite injuries often require stitches. Please protect yourself and don't feed or water squirrels.

Grand Canyon Wildlife Viewing and Safety Tips >
If you wish to camp anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the South Rim or the North Rim, you must obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center.
  • You fill in and submit an application. You can submit your application up to 4 months in advance.
  • Your chances of getting a permit are greater if you have some wiggle room to adjust date range and location of campsites.
  • It is possible to just show up at the Backcountry Information Center and get on a waiting list for any last minute permits that could become available due to cancellations. Details >
The bottom of Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch is 2460 feet (750 m) above sea level.

That's about 4800 feet (1500 m) lower than the South Rim and about 5000 feet (1800 m) lower than the North Rim. Because of the difference in elevation, the rims are 25 degrees cooler than down inside the toasty inner canyon.

Plan you outing so you are not hiking during midday when it is extremely HOT (between 10 am and 4 pm). Summer temperatures inside the canyon can reach 115 °F (46° C)

Hiking Smart in the Summer Heat >

Things to Bring:
  • Water & Electrolytes
  • Food & Salty Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water Spray Bottle
  • Loose, Protective Clothing
  • and a Wide-brimmed Hat.
  • Stay on designated trails and walkways and always keep a safe distance of at least six feet (2 m) from the edge of the canyon rim.
  • In areas where there is a railing or fence, do not climb over the barrier.
  • Know where the edge is. Watch foot placement and look for trip hazards.
  • Never throw rocks, coins, trash, or anything else over the edge.
  • Don’t visit the park if you are sick.
  • Masks may be required on park shuttle buses.
  • It is best to maintain at least six feet (2 m) of social distancing in any crowded situation.
a large room with high ceilings and exhibits and maps on the walls. Standing behind a curved desk, a park ranger is answering visitor questions.
During Summer 2022, Grand Canyon Visitor Center is open between 8 am and 4 pm daily. Rangers are available to answer any questions you may have.

South Rim Visitor Center

  • The Visitor Center building and information desk are open daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
  • The Visitor Center Theater is temporairly closed for renovation.
  • Trip planning and hiking information is also available through signs and exhibits outside of the building — and at other key locations throughout the park.

Visiting the North Rim

Visiting Desert View

Grand Canyon National Park

Last updated: May 24, 2022