Grand Canyon (South Rim)

Last Updated 4/30/24

The Grand Canyon is probably the most iconic and well-known U.S. national park, but on a website that helps people drive EVs out to the parks, I have to split the park into two pages (plus, there is going to be a third page for Grand Canyon West, another part of the canyon that’s a tribal park). The North and South Rims are only about 10 miles apart as the crow flies, but if you’re taking an EV from one rim to the other, it’s a drive of over 200 miles because there’s no road or bridge that crosses the canyon. Because of this, the situation for EVs on each side of the canyon is wildly different.

The south side of the canyon is the easier of the two to reach (by any kind of vehicle), but if it’s the only one you have the time to visit, it’s still a very worthwhile trip. Not only are there dozens of different places to stop and look at the canyon’s amazing views, but there are other fun things to do nearby, including hiking, camping, visitor’s centers, biking on some trails, wildlife watching, and historical sites. The South Rim also has abundant lodging and RV park options, as there’s both a small city inside the park and one just outside of it. Food is also readily available.

The South Rim also gives you the most transportation options, and probably more than any other park. Not only can you come by EV or ICE vehicle (on three different roads), but there are buses that take you to the park and buses that take you around the park. Walking and biking trails run into the park from the town of Tusayan. Also, there’s a train that comes into the park from Williams, Arizona (on historic Route 66) that usually runs on diesel, but there’s a monthly steam train that runs on recycled vegetable oil. There’s also an airport just outside the park that serves both fixed wing planes and helicopters that you can rent a seat on.

The best time to visit the South Rim is in the spring to early summer and late summer to fall. Winters are also a great time to get photos of snowy landscapes if you come at the right time. The hottest parts of the summer can be quite miserable, though.

Getting There In An EV

Quick Facts and Tips:

  • There’s a Tesla V2 Supercharger (Tesla vehicles only) with 12 stalls just outside of the park in Tusayan. There is also a reliable Electrify America station in the town for CCS vehicles. There are no CHAdeMO plugs near the park (closest are in Williams and Flagstaff).
  • There are a number of hotels both in and near the park with Level 2 (240v) charging on site. Some of these stations are more reliable than others, so it’s a good idea to get on or the Plugshare app and look at recent ratings. They are located in the Grand Canyon Village, Tusayan, and Grand Canyon Junction (hotels are cheapest in Grand Canyon Junction, about a half hour outside the park.
  • Free dispersed camping is available near Tusayan. Use websites like Campendium to find the best spots.
  • Desert View Drive is about 25 miles long on climbing and falling terrain. If you choose to drive out there, be sure to get an adequate charge to go out and come back before leaving as there are no charging stations out there.
  • If you choose to go past Desert View and visit the Little Colorado River canyon, be advised that it’s a steep climb back into the park, so trip planning software should be used!
  • The only free camping for tents and RVs along the drive to Desert View is at the Grandview Lookout Tower, just outside of the park boundaries. It’s close enough to Tusayan that you could use your EV as a campsite battery. RV sites with hookups are available near the hotels in all three towns.

Links To Park and Nearby Information

Here’s a decent video by a helicopter company explaining how to have a good time at the South Rim:

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.