6 Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon in Winter
There are few things more majestic than the Grand Canyon in winter – and yet, many people don’t realize that it’s one of the best times of year to visit this natural wonder. The winter months are often less crowded, the weather is relatively mild, and a light dusting of snow on the canyon makes for a truly stunning sight.
Of course, just like any trip to the Grand Canyon, a winter visit requires a bit of planning if you want to have the best possible experience. Even if you’ve come to the canyon before, expect your first trip during the winter season to be a little different.
We’ve created a handy guide that gives you all the insider tips for planning a wintertime visit to the Grand Canyon, so you can count on a memorable, magical trip.
Visiting the Grand Canyon During Winter: What You Should Know
Before you pack up and head out for a Grand Canyon trip, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re coming during the winter.
Know which parts of the Grand Canyon are open during the winter.
As you can imagine, the Grand Canyon is a massive place. There are three main “areas” for visitors to explore, but each is separated by hundreds of miles – so it’s important to know exactly where you’re going.
During the winter, it’s especially critical that you plan which part of the Grand Canyon to visit because not all three areas are open.
- The South Rim is the most well-known section of the canyon, and also the area that welcomes the most visitors. There are nearly two dozen viewpoints, each one providing an incredible perspective of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River below.
- The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round.
- The North Rim is significantly higher in altitude and sees just 10% of the number of visitors that the South Rim receives. The wildlife and plant life are different here (due to drier conditions), and there are fewer amenities and accommodations.
- The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed during the winter months, due to snow and inclement weather. It’s open to the public on a seasonal basis, typically from mid-May through mid-October (weather permitting).
- The West Rim is not technically a part of Grand Canyon National Park, as it belongs to the Hualapai Nation. It’s famous for The Skywalk, which is a glass bridge that extends about 70 feet from the rim’s edge to give you an unparalleled view down into the canyon.
- The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round.
Research the current sunrise/sunset times and plan accordingly
Catching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon in winter is nice because you won’t have to get up super early – unlike if you visited at other times throughout the year. Sunsets also come earlier in the day, so you can witness the sky in all its colorful glory and still have time for dinner afterward.
Anyone that’s ever experienced a Grand Canyon sunset will tell you that it’s something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. The vibrant reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges are absolutely unreal, and the sun sinking below the horizon is something you’ll never forget.
Buck Wild Hummer Tours hosts Grand Canyon Sunset Tours, so you can skip the hassle of planning a perfectly timed visit and let us do it all instead. Our Signature Sunset Tour is about two hours long and a great option for families, while our Private Tour option is a favorite for large groups and special occasions.
When it comes to clothing, layers are key.
Even though the Grand Canyon is located in the American Southwest, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s immune to winter weather. While it’s true that the winters are generally mild, with only moderate snowfall, it can still get very chilly at the top of the canyon. Remember that the South Rim has an elevation of about 6,800 feet – during the winter months, warm clothing is a must!
A thick jacket, closed-toed shoes, and a pair of gloves will keep you comfortably cozy. And of course, hot chocolate is always a good idea!
If you join us for our Signature Grand Canyon Hummer Tour, you can cuddle up with a thick blanket (we provide them!) in a plush seat in a fully outfitted, heated Humvee. You’ll have a front-row seat to the best viewpoints at the Grand Canyon, so make sure you have your camera ready!
You can hike the Grand Canyon during winter, just take the right safety precautions.
Many Grand Canyon visitors look forward to trekking down into the canyon, and there are plenty of trails to offer options to experienced and new hikers alike. During the winter, there may be certain trails that are inaccessible due to ice or snow, so be aware of that if you have certain ones in mind.
There can be some ice on trails, especially at the beginning portions where sunlight rarely reaches. So, make sure to wear proper shoes, and bring shoe chains and a sturdy pair of hiking poles to help you get traction.
Warm-up at the indoor attractions at Grand Canyon National Park.
If you happen to visit on an especially cold or windy day, you might want to take a quick break to enjoy some indoor heating.
At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center at Mather Point, you can learn more about the history, wildlife, and formation of the canyon. There, you can view a short film about the Grand Canyon, and also explore different interactive exhibits, historic artifacts, and more. At the Grand Canyon Conservancy’s Park Store, you can search for a souvenir to remember your visit – take your pick from an impressive variety of books, gifts, maps, and many other items.
If you have time for a 34 minutes movie, you should go see “Grand Canyon Hidden Secrets” at the Grand Canyon Imax Theater. This historical movie is very popular and if you do a tour with Buck Wild Hummer Tours, they have buy one get one half off coupons you can use!
You can also check out the Yavapai Geology Museum, which is located between the Grand Canyon Village and the Visitor Center. The exhibits there teach visitors about how the Grand Canyon was formed, while large windows give you an up-close look at the canyon itself.
The Grand Canyon Village is home to several other businesses, and you can also make a short trip to other area highlights such as Kolb Studio, the Tusayan Ruin, or the Desert View Watchtower.
Consider seeing the Grand Canyon from the air.
For the adventurer that wants a completely unique canyon experience, our Helicopter Tours of the Grand Canyon are a must. Particularly on those extra chilly days, climbing into a helicopter (and later, one of our Hummers), can be one of the more incredible ways to see the canyon.
The combo tours are truly the best of both worlds, providing you with two special perspectives on this world-famous wonder.
Make the Most of Your Grand Canyon Trip with Buck Wild Hummer Tours
Whether you’re a Valley local planning a day trip or an out-of-towner scheduling an extended visit, the Grand Canyon is a place that you’re sure to remember for a lifetime. At Buck Wild Hummer Tours, we’re passionate about sharing the magic of the canyon with our guests – and there’s nothing we love more than seeing adults and children alike witness the wonder of the Grand Canyon.
Get more information about how to plan a visit to the Grand Canyon during winter, including which of our tours are best suited for you, when you contact our team today. And when you’re ready to reserve a tour, we make booking easy with Buck Wild Hummer Tours online reservations. We can’t wait to see you at the canyon!