In summer you can expect at least a 20- to 30-minute wait at the South Rim entrance gate just to get into the park. If at all possible, travel to the park by some means other than car. Alternatives include taking the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, flying into Grand Canyon Airport and then taking a taxi, taking the Arizona Shuttle from Flagstaff, or joining a guided tour to the park. You can walk to plenty of scenic overlooks, hiking trails, restaurants, and lodges in the Grand Canyon Village area, and free shuttle buses operate along both Hermit Road and Desert View Drive.
By Car—The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is 60 miles north of Williams (and I-40) via Ariz. 64 and U.S. 180. Flagstaff, the nearest city of any size, is 80 miles southeast. From Flagstaff, you can take either U.S. 180 directly to the South Rim or U.S. 89 to Ariz. 64 and the park’s east entrance (the second route has much less traffic). Be sure you have plenty of gasoline in your car before setting out for the canyon; there are few service stations in this remote part of the state, and what gas stations there are charge exorbitant prices. There are no gas stations in the national park itself. You’ll find service stations outside the park’s south entrance in Tusayan, at Desert View near the east entrance (no cash sales in winter), and east of the park at Cameron.
Extended waits at the entrance gates, parking problems, and traffic congestion have long been the norm at the canyon during the popular summer months, and even in spring and fall there can be backups at the gates and limited parking space. However, extra ticketing lanes and additional parking lots built in recent years have somewhat alleviated the congestion at the south entrance.
By Plane—The closest airport with commercial service is in Flagstaff. From there, you’ll need to arrange other transportation the rest of the way to the national park. At the Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan, 6 miles south of Grand Canyon Village, the only regularly scheduled flights are day-tours from Las Vegas on Scenic Airlines (www.scenic.com; tel. 800/634-6801), Grand Canyon Airlines (www.grandcanyonairlines.com; tel. 866/235-9422 or 702/835-8484), and Maverick Airlines (www.maverickairlines.com; tel. 800/962-3869 or 702/405-4300). Tours of an hour or two cost $140–$160, while longer ones can last from 6 1/2 to 8 hours and cost up to $400.
By Train—The Grand Canyon Railway operates excursion trains between Williams and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
For long-distance connections, Amtrak (www.amtrak.com; tel. 800/872-7245) provides service to Flagstaff and Williams. From Flagstaff, bus service goes directly to Grand Canyon Village. From Williams, you can transfer to the Grand Canyon Railway excursion train. Note: The Amtrak stop in Williams is on the outskirts of town—from there, you’ll need to catch a shuttle to the Grand Canyon Railway.
By Bus—Arizona Shuttle (www.arizonashuttle.com; tel. 877/226-8060 or 928/226-8060) buses connect Phoenix, Sedona, and Williams with Flagstaff, where passengers can board shuttles to Grand Canyon Village. One-way adult fares to Flagstaff are $49 from Phoenix, $45 from Sedona, $24 from Williams; the fare from Flagstaff on to the Grand Canyon is $34.
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.