On Wednesday, September 12, Grand Canyon National Park will celebrate the completion of several new park facilities intended to promote healthy outdoor activity in the park and to increase visitor access to the South Rim by means other than automobile.
At 10 a.m., Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga will host a ribbon cutting at the new trailhead and parking lot located on the Kaibab National Forest at the north end of the gateway community of Tusayan, Arizona. The parking lot’s 100 new spaces will serve both as parking for the Tusayan Greenway and as additional parking for those choosing to park and ride the National Park Service’ seasonal Tusayan Shuttle. The parking lot will also serve as a trailhead for the Arizona Trail which stretches more than 800 miles from Mexico to the Utah border through Arizona’s canyons, deserts, and forests.
“We were pleased to be partners in a project that involves the Arizona Trail Association, the community of Tusayan, the Grand Canyon National Park, and the Kaibab National Forest,” said Kaibab National Forest Supervisor Mike Williams. “We look forward to continuing our partnership in offering this improved recreational opportunity. The trail and parking area are going to benefit many different kinds of visitors to the Tusayan
The recently completed Tusayan Greenway extends from the new parking lot to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center approximately six and one-half miles away. Completion of this segment of greenway is another important step in the implementation of the park’s greenway trail system and provides safe, direct, multi-modal access to the park’s primary visitor center for those entering the park on foot, bicycle or horseback.
“The park’s greenway trail system now totals 18-and-one-half miles and the paved sections meet Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas,” stated Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. “It offers visitors and park residents of varying abilities a great opportunity to enjoy the park without their cars. Additionally, the Tusayan Greenway is shared by a portion of the Arizona Trail.”
Uberuaga added, “I think it’s important to note that construction of the Tusayan Greenway was made possible in part thanks to funding from the Grand Canyon Greenway endowment established by the Nina Mason Pullium Charitable Trust in 2001. The Greenway endowment demonstrates the public’s strong support for park improvements that enhance the visitor’s experience.”
Following the ribbon cutting, there will be an open house at the new Bike Rental and Cafe located at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center plaza. Bright Angel Bicycles, L.L.C., a new small business, was recently awarded the park’s first contract to provide bicycles rentals and food service at the Bike Rental and Cafe which opened in June. Services and products include guided bicycle tours, bicycle rentals and repairs, specialty coffees, sandwiches and grab-and-go snacks.
“Public response to the availability of both bike rentals and food service near the park’s primary visitor center has been tremendous,” said Uberuaga. “It’s very exciting to see so many people taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the canyon rim in a whole new way.”
Representatives of the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Forest Service, Grand Canyon Association, and Tusayan Chamber of Commerce will be speaking at the ribbon cutting. The public are invited to attend and encouraged to bring their bicycles and ride to the open house afterward – a 13-mile round-trip ride.
The parking lot, greenway and bike rental facility all support the 2008 South Rim Visitor Transportation Plan, a plan that envisioned improved traffic flow, adequate parking and multi-modal access to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
The Tusayan parking area was designed by Jacobs Engineering, constructed by West Point Contractors and funded through a U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration grant from the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program. The Tusayan Greenway was designed and constructed by Grand Canyon National Park’s Trail Crew. The Bike Rental and Cafe was designed and built by Civil Design and Engineering, Inc. and Straightline Builders, Inc., and was funded through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act which authorizes parks to reinvest a portion of the entrance and use fees they collect in projects that will enhance visitor services.
Image courtesy National Park Service