Grand Canyon National Park shifts to winter operations

View of the Grand Canyon from Point Imperial on its North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, July 3, 2017 | File photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Beginning Wednesday, visitors traveling to Grand Canyon National Park this winter season should be prepared for modified changes in operations. Visitors should also plan ahead and anticipate temporary road closures and poor driving conditions whenever winter storms pass through the area.

The following operational changes went into effect Wednesday, according to a press release issued by park officials.  

Shuttle Bus Operations

The Hermit Road will open to private vehicles; the Hermit Road Shuttle (Red) Route will be suspended for the season.

The Village (Blue) Route and the entire Kaibab (Orange) Route will begin service at 6 a.m. each day and stop every 15-30 minutes at designated shuttle bus stops. The Kaibab (Orange) Route will run until one hour after sunset each day and the Village (Blue) Route will run until 9 p.m. each day.

The Hikers’ Express Buses will operate at 8 and 9 a.m. The express buses will stop at the Bright Angel Lodge, Backcountry Office, and the Grand Canyon Visitor Center on their way to the South Kaibab Trailhead.

Grand Canyon National Park, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

All shuttle bus services are subject to change and may be suspended on short notice due to public health concerns or inclement weather. Visitors should anticipate alternative means of transportation if traveling to the South Rim during the winter months.

More information on shuttle bus operations can be found here

Mather Campground

Beginning Wednesday, online reservations will no longer be available for the months of December, January and February. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis using the automated fee machine located at the Mather Campground Kiosk at the entrance to the campground.

During busy holiday periods, Mather Campground is likely to be near or at capacity. The campground kiosk is closed and not staffed during winter, and online reservations through this website are not available. Visitors wishing to reserve a campsite for 2022 can make a reservation online up to six months in advance.

More information on winter operations at Mather Campground can be found online.  

North Rim

The North Rim will be closed to all vehicle traffic for the winter. State Route 67 and all services on the North Rim are expected to re-open for the 2022 season on May 15, 2022 (subject to change).

Park shuttle bus map for Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, 2022 | Image courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

The North Rim campground will be available for winter camping and is accessible via hiking inner canyon trails from the South Rim or by hiking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing 45 miles from Jacob Lake.

To camp at the North Rim during the winter months, visitors need a backcountry permit, which can be obtained in advance through fax, mail request or in person by following instructions posted outside of the South Rim Backcountry Information Center.

More information on obtaining a backcountry permit can be found here.

Winter Travel

If traveling to Grand Canyon National Park during the winter months, visitors should always be prepared for winter driving conditions. The National Park Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety and Coconino County Sheriff’s Office recommend the following winter driving tips:

  • Take your time and be patient. Allow extra time to get to your destination.
  • For best traction, always slowly accelerate, decelerate, and turn.
  • Increase the distance between you and the traffic ahead of you, allowing plenty of time to brake and steer around hazards.
  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are set for normal road and driving conditions. Snow and ice are not normal.
  • Keep emergency supplies such as blankets, flashlights and snacks in your vehicle.

For current road and weather information in Grand Canyon National Park, call 928-638-7496. For road conditions across Arizona, visit this website or dial 511.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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