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Why You Should Consider Traveling to the Grand Canyon in the Winter Instead of Summer

Why You Should Consider Traveling to the Grand Canyon in the Winter Instead of Summer

Beat the Crowds

In the summer and early fall, the Grand Canyon is packed with visitors. That is not a problem in the winter. There were times we were able to be at one of the popular stops along the rim road, and no one else was there with us. It was an amazing experience.

no crowds at the grand canyon in winter

My family, practically alone!

Lower Lodging Prices

An informal survey I conducted online showed winter prices at 30-40% less than summer pricing. If you are a budget traveler, this can be a great savings.

Drive the Roads Yourself

From December to March, the South Rim Grand Canyon shuttle goes off line, and passenger cars are allowed on roads usually off limits. That means you can move at your own pace, and we really enjoyed being able to do this. The roads were snow packed when we visited, so you might need to take care. But the park rangers close the roads if they get too dangerous.

Grand Canyon snowstorm approaching.

See a View Most People Haven’t

After watching a snow storm roll in, we got to see a dusting of snow on the Grand Canyon. The white against the red canyon was a beautiful contrasting site. The vast majority of the visitors to the Grand Canyon will never see those sights.

Animal Sightings

We saw a lot of elk. They were everywhere in the Grand Canyon Village, and were pretty cool to see. They were eating low hanging leaves, and just generally milling about.

Animals in the Grand Canyon snow.

549457_10200554791901877_1176464808_nWe also saw quite a few deer as well.

BUT – There are some drawbacks to going in the winter.

It Can Be Cold

My hands froze taking photos of the sunset, and the kids were less willing to hike than they would have been if it were less extreme temperatures.

Grand Canyon Snow Angel – by Claire.

The North Rim is Closed

The North Rim receives more snow than the South Rim, and is closed for the coldest months of the winter. The East and South Rim are open 365 days a year. The West Rim is also open, but is run by the Hualapai Nation and is run separately from the National Park.

National Park Service – Grand Canyon Website

  1. Marcia 7 November, 2013

    Great idea, Amy. I’d go in winter just to beat the crowds.
    Looking at your photos, I realize I’ve never seen photos of the Grand Canyon in winter. Looks beautiful with snow.

  2. Dick Jordan 7 November, 2013

    I’ve been to the South Rim in the Spring, and North Rim in the Fall. Winter would be an ideal time to visit the park, although as you point out, the North Rim is closed.

    Last night I got to see trailers for white-water rafting movies filmed in the Grand Canyon about 30 years or so ago by photographer/filmmaker Don Briggs. Here’s the link to his Website:http://www.donbriggsfilms.com/

    • Amy Moore 9 November, 2013

      I haven’t been to the North Rim yet, but it is definitely on the list!

  3. Susan (@VibrantIreland) 7 November, 2013

    I love that idea! I’m naturally more of a cool/cold weather person myself, though I’d be happy to visit there in any season. Great idea- if I do plan a visit I’ll aim for winter 🙂

  4. Leigh 7 November, 2013

    I think the Grand Canyon is beautiful in winter with a fresh dusting of snow. I have stayed at El Tovar and not had to fight for a window seat with a view. I’ve hiked from rim to rim to rim in the fall and that was also a great time of year to visit.

  5. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} 11 November, 2013

    The contrast between the snow and the red rocks is lovely and not the usual Grand Canyon picture. I like the idea of having the place to ourselves and getting to set the pace, but as a Texas gal, I’m apprehensive of driving in the snow.

    • Amy Moore 21 November, 2013

      It wasn’t too bad. They close the roads if it gets too crazy. I’d say give it a shot!