For many Americans, visiting Grand Canyon National Park is a meaningful item to cross off their bucket lists. Its magnificent, sweeping views are unrivaled, and it continues to be a top tourist destinations in the U.S.: It was the second most-visited national park in the country in 2022, with 4.73 million visits. At 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, employing some form of ground transportation is an absolute must when it comes to exploring the iconic canyon.
Around 90% of tourists only visit the South Rim of the canyon, which is still a large enough area that transportation is needed to get around. Furthermore, the park’s 7,000-foot elevation creates added strain for visitors who choose to walk.
As such, the National Park Service has set up a free shuttle system to transport visitors around the South Rim. This means that visitors can park their cars (and save on gas) yet still move around the park easily.
While these buses have been a huge boon to tourism at the Grand Canyon, growing concern about their impact on the environment has spurred some significant changes. On July 6, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced a donation of $27.5 million to the National Park Service for what’s being called the Grand Canyon National Park Shuttle Bus Fleet Replacement project.
The project will introduce a total of 30 new buses: a mix of 10 electric buses and 20 buses that operate on compressed natural gas. It also includes the installation of charging infrastructure to power the electric vehicles.
“Grand Canyon National Park is one of our most beloved national parks,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release. “This grant, made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help ensure safe and reliable bus service for park visitors for decades to come.”
U.S. Rep Raúl M. Grijalva of Southern Arizona said the grant supports a larger effort by the National Park Service to lower carbon emissions and provide responsible stewardship of the Grand Canyon. The buses will serve 6 million visitors each year.