Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder, the park's 20 minute orientation film, is presented —on the hour and half-hour, on the large screen in the theater.
The film takes viewers on a rim to river and dawn to dusk journey through the park, and introduces the natural and human history of this special place —along with efforts to preserve and protect Grand Canyon as a sanctuary for plants, animals, and humans.
Visitor Center — Things to Know
Public restrooms are located in separate buildings on either side of the Visitor Center Building.
If you arrive when the building is closed, you will find trip planning, shuttle bus, and hiking information available on signs and exhibits outside of the building — and at other key locations throughout the park.
Parking at the Visitor Center
When entering through the South Entrance Station, make the Visitor Center your first stop. You can park your car in one of four parking areas, then get your first view of Grand Canyon by taking a short walk to nearby Mather Point.
NOTE: During busy periods, including spring break, summer, and holiday weekends, the 4 parking lots (Lots 1-4) around the Visitor Center Plaza fill by 10 am.
When Visitor Center lots are full, there are other options. Proceed to lots:
A and B at Market Plaza —about 1 mile (1.6 km)
General store/Deli, Post Office, 24 hour ATM, Yavapai Lodge.
C and D in the Village Historic District. —about 2.2 miles (3.5 km)
Train Depot, Bright Angel Trail, historic lodges, restaurants and shops.
The free shuttle bus system is a great way to get around the park. Many visitors choose to leave their vehicles in one of the 4 parking lots that surround the Visitor Center Plaza, and use the free shuttles to get around.
Even though use of the shuttle buses is encouraged in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as frustrations in finding parking, private vehicles are allowed in some areas of the park.
Grand Canyon Village, 2.5 miles (4 km) is open to private vehicles year-round, although parking is limited during busy seasons. This is the most developed area along the South Rim and includes access to lodges, restaurants, gift shops, campgrounds, parking lots, and more.
Desert View Drive, 23 miles (37 km), is open to private vehicles year-round, including access to viewpoints, pull-outs, picnic areas, and the developed Desert View area with a variety of visitor services.
Hermit Road, 7 miles (11 km) is only open to private vehicles during winter months, between December 1 and February 28. The road is closed to personal vehicles between March 1 and November 30. The free Hermits Rest Route (Red), shuttle provides easy access to the viewpoints, Hermits Rest, and the Hermit Trail when road restrictions are in place.
Even though the shuttle bus fleet can accommodate most wheelchairs, accessibility passes are available upon request at park entrance stations and visitor centers. These passes are issued for visitors who would have difficulty using the shuttle system, for example someone confined to a wheelchair, particularly during the busy summer months when shuttles are filled to capacity.
One of the best ways to view the canyon is to take a walk along the rim. The Rim Trail follows the canyon rim for 12 miles (19 km) from Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest. Most of it is paved, with only 3.1 miles (5 km) unpaved between Powell Memorial and Monument Creek Vista along Hermit Road. Use the South Rim Pocket Map to check distances and locations of shuttle stops along the Rim Trail.
Ranger Suggestion: From Canyon View Information Plaza two great options are available for walking short distances along the Canyon Rim Trail.
Walk up to Mather Point and continue east 0.7 miles (1.2 km) to Yavapai Observation Station. The Kaibab (Orange) Route shuttle has a stop here, and it will return you to the Visitor Center, or you can continue walking to the Historic District, an additional 1.3 miles (2.1 km), and pick up the Village (Blue) Route shuttle to return you to the Visitor Center.
Use the Kaibab (Orange) Route shuttle to enjoy the views at Yaki Point and Pipe Creek Vista. Instead of re-boarding the bus at Pipe Creek Vista, walk the 1.3 mile (2.1 km) paved trail to Mather Point and the Visitor Center Plaza.
A Commitment to Renewable Energy Sources
Photovoltaic cells generate a portion of the Visitor Center’s electricity needs.
In May 2009, APS (Arizona Public Services), the largest utility company in Arizona, worked with the park to install 84 photovoltaic cells at Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The 18 kilowatt system offsets 30% of the power used in the building. The energy saved is more than a normal household would consume in a day and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 tons per year. Additional photovoltaic cells were installed on the theater that was added to the Visitor Center in 2013.