Current Park Projects
The first decade of the new millennium led to modernizing the South Rim, including constructing a new visitor center, expanding the free shuttle system and the number of parking spaces, and developing "greenway trails," paths specifically for cyclists and walkers that lessen the impact of motorized traffic.
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is encircled by four large parking lots and a shuttle bus transit center. The excellent park film Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder runs for free every 20 minutes at the new theater adjacent to the visitor center. The visitor center also offers trip-planning tools to help visitors organize their time, and the new Science on a Sphere enclosure shows "The Canyon World," a short presentation of 1.8 billion years of canyon history projected outside of a 6-foot diameter sphere.
Visitors can now ride the park's shuttle bus system around Grand Canyon Village, to all Hermit Road and Yavapai overlooks, and to Yaki Point. A free shuttle from Grand Canyon Village to Tusayan operates in high season as well. More lanes have been opened for cars at the South Entrance, significantly limiting the long lines of the past. New parking lots have opened throughout the South Rim, reducing traffic and bottlenecks.
Bicycles can now be rented from the visitor center (except in winter). A building for the bike rental facility, as well as a limited food service facility, should be completed by summer 2012. Hermit Road has been completely repaved, and the greenway trail has been extended to Hermits Rest. There's also a new paved bike and pedestrian trail extending from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to the South Kaibab trail head. Another bike trail will be completed by late spring 2012 connecting the visitor center and Tusayan.
Also new on the South Rim, the Trail of Time is a 1.3-mile section of paved rim trail between Verkamp's Visitor Center and Yavapai Point, in which each meter (think of a large step) represents 1 million years of time. Visitors can touch rocks along the walk from each of the canyon layers as they learn about its geologic history.
In order to reduce litter in the area, plastics in the waste system, and greenhouse gas emissions, Grand Canyon National Park has installed free water bottle filling stations throughout the park (on both the South Rim and North Rim), including at: Hermits Rest, Bright Angel trail head, Verkamp's Visitor Center, the General Store at Market Plaza, Grand Canyon Visitor Center, South Kaibab trail head, Desert View Visitor Center, and the General Store at Desert View. On the South Rim, the park concessionaire Xanterra is now operating buses powered by natural gas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.