Offering fantastic views and a quieter experience away from the crowds at South Rim, the North Rim at Grand Canyon National Park is set to open on May 15. It marks the official start of the 2022 season and coincides with the reopening of Grand Canyon Lodge and Grand Canyon Trail Rides.
Visitor services, including the campground and most commercial operations, will also be back in business on the same day.
And what is sure to be a bonus to backcampers, sightseers, photographers, and mountain bikers, Kaibab Plateau will also reopen on May 15 after closing in September 2019 due to the Ike's Fire.
Unlike the South Rim, which is open all year, the more remote and rugged North Rim closes for winter when it gets shut down by snow around October, before reopening in mid-May.
Mid-May also marks the start of Grand Canyon's summer season. If you’re planning to visit the natural wonder in Arizona at the height of the season, make sure you plan your visit and make reservations in advance, or you might arrive to find yourself unable to find a place to stay and waiting in long lines to access the park.
The park expects to see the longest wait times to enter the park between 10am and 4pm during peak times. It warns that parking lots near the visitor center, one of the most popular spots to park, may reach capacity by noon on busy days.
How to avoid the crowds at the Grand Canyon
At peak times, the park recommends if you want to avoid the crowds, arrive before 9am or after 5pm if you plan to go by car. It also recommends buying your park pass or day pass in advance online or at the IMAX Theater, Canyon Plaza Resort, Red Feather Lodge or Westwind Air Service in Tusayan, the town located just outside the South Entrance to the park.
You can also take the train from Williams, Arizona, and avoid the traffic altogether. The train leaves the depot in Williams at 9am Arizona Standard Mountain Time daily and arrives at the Grand Canyon at 11:45am. According to the train’s website, that gives visitors approximately three hours to explore the Grand Canyon before making the return trip back to Williams at 3:30pm (arriving at 5:45pm).
In times of high demand, a second train may be available. The train takes passengers to the South Rim only. Tickets range in price depending on the class and experience level you choose, varying from $67 for adults up to $226 for the Luxury Parlor Class.
Grand Canyon Shuttle Bus Information
South Rim shuttle routes will continue to operate on the spring schedule until May 27 and the the Kaibab Rim Route (Orange Route), the Village Route (Blue Route) and the Hermits Rest Route (Red Route) are all in operation starting at 4:30am daily.
The Kaibab Rim and Hermits Rest routes end an hour after sunset with the Village Route running until 10pm daily.
The Hikers’ Express Bus expanded its morning service this season. That one-way route departs Bright Angel Lodge and makes stops at the Backcountry Information Center and Grand Canyon Visitors before dropping hikers off at the South Kaibab Trailhead.
The Hikers’ Express Bus departs Bright Angel Lodge at 5, 6, and 7am in May and September. In June, July, and August, those times are adjusted to 4, 5, and 6am.
The Tusayan Route, which connects hotels and services in Tusayan to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, will return May 28 to assist summer visitors to the park.
Accessing the North Rim
The North Rim can be accessed by car on State Route 67 when it opens on May 15.
It can also be accessed on foot from the South Rim using the inner canyon trails (23.9 miles) or approach by hiking from Jacob Lake (45 miles).
The North Rim Campground opens on May 15 and it can be used overnight if you reserve a backcountry permit