After a record-setting 2015 that saw Grand Canyon National Park visitation breeze past the 5 million mark for the first time ever, National Park Service officials are trying to get the word out that visitors can expect big crowds during the popular Spring Break season and beyond.
Their predictions have certainly come true, aided by mild weather, cheap gas, and the buzz being generated by the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
This of course translates into longer lines at the entrance gates, limited parking inside the park, and stiff competition for everything from lodging to dinner reservations. The “new normal” in terms of park visitation has come as a bit of a shock to locals who watched the park go from neutral to high gear in a matter of weeks once March arrived.
As one metric of the increased crowds, this author was unable to find a parking space at the General Store on three consecutive days—a first since taking up residence in the park in 1994.
It would behoove anyone headed to the South Rim to plan ahead, be sure you arrive with reservations already in place, allow extra travel time, and be willing to work a little harder to get away from the crowds to enjoy the famed serenity of the Grand Canyon.
This might mean opting for a secluded corner of the Rim Trail vs. one of the popular overlooks, or taking one of the less heavily-travelled trails such as the Hermit or Grandview (assuming you’re in appropriate shape and are well-equipped).
Follow this link for more information on the big crowds, and a head’s up on a few of the fun events happening in the coming weeks.