Tusayan, Arizona, Gateway to Grand Canyon

Four best-kept secrets to experiencing the Grand Canyon including IMAX's "Hidden Secrets," finding a parking space, a pool and park passes.
By Staff ,

Grand Canyon IMAX

IMAX film at the National Geographic Visitor Center in Tusayan. 

Soar past towering cliffs and raft through huge rapids when you watch the IMAX movie Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets at the National Geographic Visitor Center in Tusayan, Ariz., just minutes from the park’s South Rim entrance.

The 34-minute film projected on a six-story-high screen is a fantastic start to your Grand Canyon adventure as it carries you on a journey spanning 4,000 years of Grand Canyon history. It begins with the native people who lived there and includes a recreation of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 boating expedition through the Grand Canyon. 

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Leave Your Car Here

Tusayan Shuttle in front of the IMAX

In addition to the IMAX theater, you’ll find three other things in Tusayan, which are extremely difficult to find inside the Grand Canyon's park boundaries: parking, pools and live music.

First, parking. Leave your car in Tusayan (pronounced “Toos-ayin”), located 1 mile from the park entrance, and ride the free National Park Service shuttle into the park. Doing so could save you literally hours trying to find a parking spot. It’ll also help you avoid long lines of cars trying to get into the park. The shuttle, which runs seasonally 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily, uses a special separate lane to get you to the sights you want to see faster.

Not convinced traffic will be bad? Don’t take our word for it. Head to the Grand Canyon Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau across from the IMAX where a live web cam is fixed on the entrance stations. You’ll see the screen when you walk in.

“Ridership was up 29 percent in May, June and July of this year,” says Laura Chastain, general manager of the Grand Canyon Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau. “I think us having a feed in our office showing people how crazy traffic can be has made a difference.”

Cool Off in the Pool

If you’re looking to cool off at the end of your day in the Grand Canyon, consider staying in Tusayan for the night. Each of the six hotels in town have pools, either indoor or outdoor. None in the park has them. Plus, you’ll discover more nightlife in this small town on the edge of the park from live music and TVs broadcasting sporting events to an arcade and bowling alley in the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn.

Insider's Tips

Buy your IMAX tickets online to save up to 20 percent, and buy your park pass in Tusayan to avoid waiting in long lines at the entrance. 

Whether you take the park shuttle or drive into the park, you’ll need a park pass to get through the park's entrance. Tusayan has four places where you can purchase your pass: National Geographic Visitor Center, RP’s Stage Stop, Red Feather Lodge or Canyon Plaza Resort. 

For more information:
Grand Canyon Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau Visitor Center 

Related: Camping & RV Parks in Tusayan