Over 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, but the majority visit during the summer months.
Would you like to have this Wonder of the World all to yourself? It’s a well-kept secret that the Grand Canyon is one of the best winter vacation destinations in the US!
Read on for your go-to guide for visiting the Grand Canyon in the wintertime.
1. Prepare for the Cold
Yes, the Grand Canyon is in the desert, and during the summer it is blisteringly hot. But at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, the Grand Canyon can get seriously cold in the wintertime.
The South Rim receives an average of 58″ of snow each winter season. Even if it’s not snowing, the highs will probably hover in the low 40s while the nighttime temperatures drop to the teens and 20s. (Note: It’s a dry cold, so it won’t feel as bone-chilling as damper locales.)
Make sure you have a heavy winter jacket, hat, gloves, and plenty of warm layers. If you plan to hike, you’ll need a good pair of winter boots and crampons to carry you safely across areas of snow and ice.
2. Plan on South Rim Access
Most visitors access the Grand Canyon from the South Rim anyway, as it’s closest to Phoenix, Las Vegas, and other major cities. But just in case you were thinking of exploring the North Rim, it’s generally closed from mid-October through mid-May.
3. Lodging Options
There are 6 lodging options within Grand Canyon National Park, ranging from rustic ranches to upscale historic lodges. There’s also a host of options located just outside the park’s entrance in Tusayan.
What if you want to visit the Grand Canyon but want to stay somewhere warmer? In nearby places like Sedona winter is milder, so you could opt for a hotel at lower elevation and visit the Canyon as a day trip.
4. Know What’s Open & Closed
Less than 10% of annual visitors arrive in the wintertime, but over 90% of the National Park remains open year-round. You shouldn’t have any problems driving from Grand Canyon Village all the way along the Rim Trail to the Desert Watchtower.
There are multiple viewpoints along the way, including Hermit’s Rest Trail, that remain open during the winter. If you don’t want to drive, shuttles run to the most popular destinations.
Use caution wherever you go, though, as ice can always be lurking on trails and in parking lots.
5. Catch the Sunrise or Sunset
Aside from the lack of crowds, one of the best advantages of visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter is the later sunrise and earlier sunset. The skies tend to be especially clear, too, which can make for some incredible atmospheric effects.
Enjoy the sunrise from Grand Canyon Village with a cup of hot chocolate, or book dinner at El Tovar Lodge and watch the sun slowly fade away. Keep an eye out for wildlife too, as deer, elk, and birds are easier to spot against the snow.
Visiting the Grand Canyon: An Experience You’ll Never Forget!
Why suffer through boiling heat and hordes of summer crowds when you can have the Grand Canyon all to yourself?
As long as you’ve got the proper clothes, visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter is an amazing experience. Use the tips outlined above to plan your upcoming Grand Canyon getaway!
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