Getting around the Grand Canyon: A Guide to the National Park’s Shuttles

December 14, 2020 /
Grand Canyon shuttles

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

If you’re planning a visit to the Grand Canyon, you’re probably wondering if there are any alternatives to driving your car (or rental car) in order to reach the main scenic spots.

Because this is one of America’s most famous and most visited national parks, you will find many free shuttles that will allow you to organize a Grand Canyon itinerary without necessarily using your car, and this way you can also avoid traffic, which forms in the peak tourist season.

So let’s go take a look at the free Grand Canyon shuttles.

Grand Canyon South Rim Shuttles

Below you can find all the information about the Grand Canyon Shuttle Bus Service, including information about routes, bus stops and hours of operation.

Village Route (Blue Line)

Grand Canyon shuttle serviceThis is the shuttle that serves only and exclusively the Grand Canyon Village. It is mainly used to connect the visitor center to the hotels, campsites and restaurants that are located in what could be considered a real town within the national park.

The service is active throughout the year. The shuttle comes very frequently, but it varies according to the season. You can check the updated schedule on the official website.

The shuttle departs from the parking lots near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and will make these stops before returning to the starting point:

  • Market Plaza Westbound
  • Shrine of the Ages – Park Headquarters
  • Railway Station – Hotel El Tovar – Hopi House
  • Bright Angel
  • Hermits Rest Route Transfer
  • Maswik Lodge
  • Backcountry Information Center
  • Center Road
  • Village East
  • Shrine of the Ages
  • Mather Campground
  • Trailer Village
  • Market Plaza Eastbound

To give you an idea of the duration of the journey, know that to complete the route without ever getting off the shuttle it will take about 50 minutes.

Kaibab Route (Orange Line)

free shuttle Grand Canyon

This is a very useful shuttle for those who have decided to visit the Grand Canyon without using their car. Thanks to this shuttle, you can go from the Visitor Center parking lots to nine viewpoints along the course of the South Rim.

The line is active throughout the year, but the frequency varies depending on the period (you can check the updated schedule on the official website). These are the stops:

  • Grand Canyon Visitor Center
  • Mather Point
  • Yavapai Geology Museum
  • Grand Canyon Visitor Center
  • South Kaibab Trailhead
  • Yaki Point
  • Pipe Creek Vista
  • Grand Canyon Visitor Center

You can also use this shuttle if you would like to take a few short walks along the Grand Canyon South Rim. For example, you can follow the section of the Rim Trail that connects the Yavapai Geology Museum to the Yaki Point, passing by the South Kaibab Trailhead, taking the shuttle back to where you need to go.

It takes about 50 minutes to complete the entire journey without ever getting off the shuttle.

Hermit Road Route (Red Line)

how to get around grand canyonThis is perhaps the most famous and used shuttle in the entire Grand Canyon, because it will take you to an area otherwise inaccessible to cars at certain times of the year.

Generally from March 1 to the end of November (i.e. during peak tourist months) Hermit Road, which leads from the Grand Canyon Village to the scenic Hermits Rest, is closed to car traffic. You can enjoy the views of this area only by using the shuttle service. During the remaining months (December, January and February), the shuttle service is not active and you can drive on Hermit Road.

To get to where the red line begins, you can use the Village Route, which, as you read in the section above, has a dedicated stop that takes you directly to this shuttle (Hermits Rest Route Transfer).

On the way to Hermits Rest, the shuttle will make 8 stops at panoramic viewpoints while on the return journey there will be only 3 stops. Please pay particular attention to the route.

  • Village Route Transfer
  • Trailview Overlook
  • Maricopa Point
  • Powell Point
  • Hopi Point
  • Mohave Point
  • The Abyss
  • Monument Creek Vista
  • Pima Point
  • Hermits Rest
  • Pima Point
  • Mohave Point
  • Powell Point
  • Village Route Transfer

The duration of this route is considerably longer than that of the previous routes. In fact, it takes ab0out 80 minutes to complete the entire itinerary without ever getting off the shuttle. The frequency of the trips made by this shuttle is variable depending on the season. You can check the updated schedule on the official website.

Tusayan Route – Park & Ride (Purple Line)

grand canyon shuttle timesThis shuttle does not provide transportation around the park; rather, it is actually one of the best ways to get to the Grand Canyon without using the car. The bus connects the nearby town of Tusayan, where there are many places to park, to the Grand Canyon Village (hence the name Park & Ride).

This shuttle is only active during the summer and can be a great way to avoid the long lines at the entrance to the park that can form during the peak tourist season. In this way, you will also avoid “going crazy” looking for parking since it is normal in the period that from 10:00 am onwards it will start to be very crowded.

Generally the shuttle is active from March to the end of September (check the official website for any changes) and comes every 20 minutes between 8:00 am and 9:30 pm.

These are the stops that are made within Tusayan, before the final stop at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center:

  • IMAX Theater/ R.P.’s Stage Stop
  • Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn
  • The Grand Hotel
  • Big E Steakhouse and Saloon

However, in order to access the shuttle, you must already have a Grand Canyon entrance ticket or the America the Beautiful Park Pass. If you are wondering how to get a ticket or a pass before entering the park, here is the list of retailers in the city where you can purchase them:

  • National Geographic Visitor Center (IMAX Theater)
  • Grand Canyon South Rim Chamber of Commerce (This is the only place where you can buy the park pass)
  • R.P.’s Stage Stop
  • Red Feather Lodge
  • Canyon Plaza Resort

Hikers’ Express Shuttle Bus

Grand Canyon shuttle bus routesThis shuttle service is suitable for hikers who, perhaps after spending the night in the Grand Canyon, want to depart early in the morning to go to the South Kaibab Trail.

The shuttle departs near the Bright Angel Lodge, and makes only two other stops at the Backcountry Information Center and Grand Canyon Visitor Center before reaching its destination.

There are only two or three departure times in the morning, which can vary depending on the month. You can find the updated schedule on the official website. This is a one-way service and for the return trip, you will have to rely on the other shuttles in the park.

What about the North Rim and the West Rim?

So far all the shuttle buses operated by the National Park Service that have been mentioned in this article can be used to visit the South Rim. If you are wondering if there are similar shuttle services in the other two areas of the Grand Canyon, the answer is no.

  • In the North Rim, there is only a so-called Hiker Shuttle from Grand Canyon Lodge to the North Kaibab Trailhead. There are only two departure times, at 5:30 am and 6:00 a.m. You can book the service with 24 hours notice directly at the Grand Canyon Lodge reception desk.
  • In the West Rim, which is operated exclusively by the Hualapai Tribe, there is only one shuttle that runs from the parking lot to the Skywalk, as we have described in the article about the Grand Canyon West Rim.
Filippo Nardelli
Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.