During the summer, 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 coming to the park on a guided tour. There are 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.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is 60 miles north of Williams and I-40 on Ariz. 64 and U.S. 180. Flagstaff, the nearest city of any size, is 80 miles away. From Flagstaff, it's possible to take U.S. 180 directly to the South Rim or U.S. 89 to Ariz. 64 and the east entrance to the park. This latter route is my preferred way of getting to the canyon since it sees slightly 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.
Long 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 during the spring and fall there can be backups at the entrance gates and visitors can have a hard time finding a parking space. However, extra ticketing lanes and additional parking lots built in recent years have somewhat alleviated the congestion at the south entrance to the park.
The Grand Canyon Airport is in Tusayan, 6 miles south of Grand Canyon Village. However, there are no regularly scheduled commercial flights into this airport other than day-tours from Las Vegas on Scenic Airlines (tel. 800/634-6801; www.scenic.com), Grand Canyon Airlines (tel. 866/235-9422 or 928/638-2359; www.grandcanyonairlines.com), and Maverick Airlines (tel. 800/962-3869 or 702/405-4300; www.maverickairlines.com). These tours last from 6 1/2 to 8 hours and cost between $219 and $319. The closest airport with commercial service is in Flagstaff. From there, you'll need to arrange another mode of transportation the rest of the way to the national park.
The Grand Canyon Railway operates excursion trains between Williams and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
For long-distance connections, Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) provides service to Flagstaff and Williams. From Flagstaff, it's then possible to take a bus directly to Grand Canyon Village. From Williams, you can take the Grand Canyon Railway excursion train to Grand Canyon Village. Note: The Amtrak stop in Williams is undeveloped and is on the outskirts of town. If you plan to take an Amtrak train to Williams, a shuttle from the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel will pick you up where the Amtrak train drops you off.
Shuttle bus service between Phoenix, Flagstaff, Williams, and Grand Canyon Village is provided by Arizona Shuttle (tel. 877/226-8060 or 928/226-8060; www.arizonashuttle.com). Between Phoenix and Flagstaff, adult fares are $39 one-way and $78 round-trip ($35 and $70 for Internet bookings); between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, fares are $28 one-way and $56 round-trip ($24 and $48 for Internet bookings). Shuttles also connect Williams with Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Village, and there are shuttles between Flagstaff and Sedona as well.
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.