Grand Canyon Travel Guide from Tusayan

Traveling from Tusayan to the Grand Canyon

Tusayan, AZ is the closest town to Grand Canyon Village and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, as well as the only town located right outside the national park entrance.  The word Tusayan is derived from the Hopi term meaning "country of isolated buttes." With a population of only 500, most people who live in this area, reside and work within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. Tusayan's main draw is of course Grand Canyon National Park and the South entrance is only a few miles from town.  Tusayan is a great option for visitors who want to explore the South Rim when South Rim lodging is booked up or if you want to try to find a better rate on hotels. Tusayan also has several tour operators and the Grand Canyon Imax. Read the guide below to learn more about travel from Tusayan to the Grand Canyon, or check out our Tusayan map to see all the nearby destinations and attractions.

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Travel Information, Tours and Lodging

Driving Distance from Tusayan, AZ to Grand Canyon

  • Tusayan, AZ to Grand Canyon South Entrance is 1.4 miles and a 2-minute drive.
  • Tusayan, AZ to Grand Canyon Village is 6.5 miles and a 12-minute drive.
  • Tusayan, AZ to Grand Canyon East Rim is 131 miles, a 2  hour 20-minute drive.
  • Tusayan, AZ to Grand Canyon North Rim is 214 miles, a 5 hour 55-minute drive.
  • Tusayan, AZ to Grand Canyon West Rim is 236 miles, a 3 hour 55-minute drive.

Grand Canyon Tours from Tusayan

Although the most popular attractions for travelers are at the Grand Canyon, Tusayan is surrounded by Kaibab National Forest and does offer other activities and tours. including a mountain bike trail right outside of town.  The Grand Canyon Airport is just south of town, and anyone wanting to enjoy a scenic helicopter or plane flight will have several options.  The Grand Canyon Imax is also located in town at the National Geographic Visitor Center, and is a great way to see places within the Canyon you didn't get to visit on your own. Keep reading to learn more about the Tusayan area, or check out our recommended tours and tickets below.

Jeep Tours are another popular tourist attraction based in Tusayan. Local Forest Service roads like FS 302, offers scenic drives to Grandview Point and passes the Arizona Trail, which makes for a peaceful hike through the forest, or a longer trek across Arizona.  For the outdoorsman, there is one thing that may even top the Grand Canyon.  This part of the Kaibab National Forest contains some of the largest trophy elk in the country, and hunter may wait many years before pulling a tag for a chance at a big bull elk. 

Best Hotels in Tusayan near the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon South Rim hotels inside the National Park can book up quickly and are generally a bit more expensive than lodging outside the park. Luckily there are great hotel options close by. Check out popular Tusayan hotels below, or go to our complete list of Tusayan Lodging.

Popular Tusayan AZ Restaurants

There are quite a few restaurants and bars in Tusayan with good food and even some live music from time to time. Check out the Map and Listings below for a restaurants list or head to our restaurants page for more information on all Tusayan and Grand Canyon Restaurants.

Grand Canyon Rafting

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Recommended Grand Canyon Tours and Tickets

Grand Canyon South Rim Scenic Flight

Grand Canyon Discovery Air Tour

Duration: 40 minutes
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
from $159 on Get Your Guide

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Grand Canyon Railway Train Tickets

Grand Canyon Railway Train Tickets

Duration: 8 hours
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
from $124 on Viator

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Grand Canyon Jeep Tour

Grand Canyon East Rim Jeep Ride and IMAX

Duration: 3 hours
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
from $128 on Viator

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Scenic Flight, Rafting and Antelope Canyon

Scenic Flight, Rafting and Antelope Canyon

Duration: 12.5 hours
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
from $499 on Viator

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Find Popular Tusayan Hotels

Tusayan Grand Canyon Shuttle Guide

This seasonal shuttle bus route was designed to give Grand Canyon visitors an easier option for parking and entering the park, allowing you to skip the 1+ hour entrance station lines and start exploring even faster. Running from March to September, the Tusayan Route picks up passengers throughout the town of Tusayan, located just south of the park. The bus then drops off passengers at Grand Canyon Visitor Center where you can walk to the rim at Mather Point for photos or change to another free park shuttle bus to see even more of the park. Visitors already in the park can also use the Tusayan Route to leave the park and access Tusayan services including the Grand Canyon IMAX, fast food and sit down restaurants and gift shops. Parking is available throughout Tusayan and passengers can board after purchasing a park pass (you pay the same price as you would if you drove your own car into the park), which are sold at multiple locations throughout town.

Tusayan Shuttle Bus Route/Purple Route

Tusayan Shuttle Purple Route

Pros

  • Parking is readily available throughout Tusayan, not only at the Shuttle Bus parking lot at the north end of town but also in parking lots at various businesses as well. This makes it a great option for visitors who arrive later in the day when you will struggle to find a place to park your car inside the park.
  • The park shuttle buses use a bypass lane that allows them to skip the long lines at the entrance stations and get you into the park faster. This could save you more than an hour of waiting at peak visitation times during the day (10am-sunset).
  • The Tusayan Route interconnects with other South Rim shuttle bus routes at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center shuttle bus plaza allowing you to see the park without the headache of driving and parking.

Cons

  • If you are using the Tusayan Route to enter the park for the first time, this is the only shuttle bus that charges riders--you must purchase a park entrance permit before boarding the bus. It costs the same amount as driving your own car into the park so for many visitors it is still the best option since it saves you time and stress even if it does not save you money. If you already have a valid America the Beautiful, Senior or Access Pass, the entrance fee is waived.

Bus Route Origin: The route begins in two places--at the shuttle bus plaza at Grand Canyon Visitor Center and at the IMAX in Tusayan.

Where to Park: The dedicated parking lot for shuttle bus riders is at the north end of Tusayan, accessed off of the roundabout. If you park there, walk to the Steakhouse stop to avoid needlessly riding the shuttle bus throughout Tusayan; this stop will take you directly into the park. If you are already in the park, you can also access the Tusayan Route at Grand Canyon Visitor Center shuttle bus plaza.

Required or Optional?: This route is optional since visitors can choose to drive their own vehicles into the park as well.

Shuttle Type: Takes you to services throughout Tusayan, then drops off at Grand Canyon Visitor Center inside of the park; there are no scenic views of the canyon on this route.

Shuttle Highlights: Tusayan is a very small town so most visitors could easily walk the length of town rather than take the shuttle from stop to stop. For those not staying overnight in a Tusayan hotel, the main attraction on this shuttle route is the Grand Canyon IMAX.

Hours of Operation/Shuttle Frequency

Shuttle buses run every 20 minutes throughout the day

First bus leaves IMAX Theater in Tusayan at 8am
Last bus leaves IMAX Theater at 9:45 pm

First bus leaves Grand Canyon Visitor Center at 8:25 am 
Last buses leaves Grand Canyon Visitor Center at 9:30 pm

Total Time for Route: 40-minutes roundtrip if you do not exit the bus.

Shuttle Season: Runs March 1-September 30.

Price: $30 for bus pass which covers all members of your group for 7 days (the same price as a personal vehicle entrance pass). Fee is waived if you already have an America the Beautiful (annual), Access or Senior Pass.

Access to Restrooms and Services Along the Route: Restrooms are nearby at every stop along the Tusayan Route. Drinking water is available or you can buy food and drinks throughout Tusayan.

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