Grand Canyon to fully open South Rim entrance in June

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — The Grand Canyon is expanding access to its more popular South Rim entrance and planning to let visitors in around the clock next month after it shuttered temporarily over coronavirus concerns.

The entrance station will be open from 4 a.m. until 2 p.m., starting Friday until June 5 when the national park will drop restrictions on the hours. The canyon's North Rim also will reopen June 5, though the campground will be closed until July 1 because of construction.

Park concessionaires will start reopening lodging in June, the park said Thursday.

The Grand Canyon’s East Rim entrance, which goes through the Navajo Nation, will remain closed along with the Desert View Watchtower and the nearby campground.

For now, visitors can hike down into the canyon and camp in the more remote areas, but no new overnight permits for the inner canyon will be issued. Food and drink services also are limited. Visitors are encouraged to leave after sunset.

Rafting trips down the Colorado River are scheduled to resume June 14. Private trips that were called off because of the coronavirus pandemic are scheduled for the same launch day in 2022. Permit holders can vie for any trips that are canceled in 2021. They also can get a refund if they want to cancel the 2022 booking by sending a written request to the park.

To help make up for the lost trips, the Grand Canyon said it will add small, private trip and commercial trip launches through 2022. It also will temporarily increase the limit for those on commercial trips from 32 to 38, but the outfitters plan to take smaller groups as they ease back into business.