Grand Canyon National Park increasing access to South Rim viewpoints

Grand Canyon National Park increasing access to South Rim viewpoints
Sunset in Grand Canyon as seen from the South Rim. (Source: National Park Service)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Officials at the Grand Canyon National Park say they are increasing visitor access to some viewpoints on the South Rim. The North Rim, which closes every winter, remains closed.

Commercial services within the park remain closed. Visitors are being told to plan to be self-sufficient, bringing food, water and hand sanitizer. There are no overnight accommodations available.

This reopening is part of the National Park Service’s phased approach to increase public access on a park-by-park basis.

The South Rim entrance will reopen May 15-18 from 6-10 a.m. and visitors will have limited day use access to viewpoints, picnic areas and some restroom facilities. The east entrance to the South Rim will remain closed.

For more details about what will be accessible, read the news release below:

Grand Canyon National Park is beginning to increase access to South Rim Viewpoints

Grand Canyon, Ariz. - Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Grand Canyon National Park is increasing recreational access to selected South Rim viewpoints. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim South Entrance will reopen May 15-18 for incoming traffic from 6-10 a.m. with limited day use access to:

  • The viewpoints at Pipe Creek Vista, Shoshone Point, Twin Overlooks, Duck on a Rock, Thor’s Hammer, No Name Point and Navajo Point along East Desert View Drive. Vehicles will be directed to turn around at Navajo Point.
  • The picnic areas near Shoshone Point Pavilion, east of Yaki Road, Thor’s Hammer and Buggeln Picnic area.
  • The restroom facilities located by the South Entrance Grand Canyon National Park sign, picnic area east of Yaki Road, Shoshone Point and Buggeln picnic area.

With public health in mind, the following facilities and areas remain closed to visitors at this time:

  • South Rim's east entrance and Desert View area.
  • The Rim Trail, Greenway Trail system, inner canyon and all hiking trails.
  • Grand Canyon Village.
  • Center Road west from the South Entrance Road intersection; South Entrance Road north of Desert View Drive intersection; Yaki Point Road, Rowe Well Road and the USFS 310 Road.
  • The Colorado River, North Rim and Tuweep area.

Commercial services within the park remain closed. Visitors exploring the South Rim should plan to be self-sufficient, bringing enough food and water during their trip as well as hand sanitizer. The park also recommends arriving no later than 9-9:30 a.m. in case of traffic backups entering the park. Once visitors enter the park, they can stay throughout the day; however, there are no overnight accommodations available.

"This initial reopening phase will increase access to our public lands in a responsible way by offering the main feature of the park for the public, the view of the canyon, while reducing the potential exposure of COVID-19 to our nearly 2,500 residents," said Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Ed Keable.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Grand Canyon National Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and work spaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. Currently, additional access is planned for visitors over Memorial Day weekend, which includes extending entrance station hours and access to more roads, hiking trails and viewpoints. Details will be provided when they’re available on our website.

As a reminder, visitors driving on U.S. Route 89 between Flagstaff or northern Arizona and Cameron will be travelling through the Navajo Nation, which requires face masks to be worn at public facilities and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. Also, the neighboring Havasupai reservation remains closed for tourism, and details for operational updates can be found on their website.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website at: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/grand-canyon-national-park-public-health-update.htm and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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