So, you want to see what makes this canyon so grand. You’ve heard all about it, but just never seen it for yourself. As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the views are so awe-inspiring some say they would make Vincent Van Gogh cry. First, let’s get the facts out of the way. You know Arizona is a desert and it seems every year it breaks scorching, record-breaking heat levels. You also know that the Grand Canyon is one of the most highly regarded and must-see natural wonders of the world. The only question standing between you and going to see one of Planet Earth’s most spectacular sights is… What’s the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon? How on Earth are you going to take your friends and family out to see the most famous hole in the ground without knowing this vital information? Spoiler alert: anytime is a good time of the year to visit the Grand Canyon. That being said, everyone is different and likes to experience the Canyon’s majesty in different ways. Let’s begin by going into details about each season to better determine which time of year is right for you.
Best Time to Visit Grand Canyon Season by Season
Visiting the Grand Canyon in Summer
Summer; the season famously known for being hot (especially in a desert landscape) and also rated the best time to visit the Grand Canyon National Park by 9 out of 10 visitors! The temperature in the park during this time of year usually sits around 80 degrees fahrenheit, thanks to the high elevation. The park is a perfect getaway from the heat, towering above the Valley, which usually reaches anywhere between 100 to 120 degree weather during the summertime. Not to mention that the longer hours of daylight give you a couple extra hours to enjoy the canyon. With just a couple days of rain spread out throughout the season, you won’t have to worry about cloudy weather obstructing your precious views of the scenery around the park. Even if you’re not use to the warm weather, don’t let that stop you from visiting this breathtaking and oh so grand canyon. Despite the heatwaves basking down on canyon dwellers, you will find people coming far and wide to visit the canyon during this time of year. In fact, it is the most popular season and one of the best times to visit the Grand Canyon because the air is clear, the sun is shining, and the views are phenomenal. When it comes to bucket list moments, you would be hard-pressed to find anything more beautiful than a Grand Canyon summer sunset. Once the air has settled and there is a cool essence in the park, the sky transforms into an orange canvas while the rays of the sun reflect into the canyon for a few lasting moments before night falls. If you can’t seem to fit all your activities into one day, Kachina or Thunderbird Lodge are excellent options for staying overnight at the South Rim. Both are lovely spots to hunker down, grab a room with a (canyon) view, and simply relax. Just make sure to book ahead of time as rooms sell out quickly. If you’re more of a camper, you’ll be glad to know the summer nights grant a reprieve from the heat and sleeping under the stars is quite magical! Speaking of getting down and dirty in the Canyon, there are endless miles of backcountry hiking trails to explore. Despite the popularity of the Canyon during the summer, you generally won’t have to worry about having some alone time, as the immense amount of ground to cover gives you plenty opportunities for solitude. Just make sure you bring enough water!
Fall at the Grand Canyon
When fall comes around, the Canyon’s scenery starts to adjust with the season. While the South Rim is by far the most popular side of the canyon for tourists, there is still much to be seen up at the North Rim. You’ll find cooler temperatures, thick forest, and golden red colors to compliment the Aspen and Oak trees. The meadows up near the North Rim are home to a wide assortment of wildlife such as the bison, bighorn sheep, javelinas, and so much more. Keep your eyes and ears open for a frequent resident of the park, the Canyon Wren. If you keep your fingers crossed, you may just hear why they’ve earned the title of songbird. This transitional time of the year is always a nice time to visit the Grand Canyon for you have a window of opportunity where the temperatures are just right, there aren’t too many busy days at the park and overall, it’s simply relaxing. A favorite fall activity at the Canyon is stargazing, the Grand Canyon has been recently declared an International Dark Sky Park! There is nothing quite like spending the night under the stars, be it in your hotel room, looking outside of your rim-view window, or taking a sleeping bag and enjoying nature in all her beauty. The night sky in the National Park is not quite one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World like the Grand Canyon, however it would be number 8 if the list went that far. Imagine this: you’re walking down the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, in awe of all its immense beauty and depth, and a couple songbirds are tweeting harmonic melodies as you gaze over the horizon onto the North Rim. You stop to smell the autumn tinted leaves, take a walk down to one of the most photogenic spots in the park, and snap a selfie with one of the local and knowledgeable park rangers. Ah, fall. What a lovely time of year to visit the Grand Canyon! Just be careful, wouldn’t want any of those jestering squirrels to steal any of your delicious Grand Canyon popcorn. (Disclaimer: We are not sure if there about the 24 hour popcorn vendor availability, so you may need to bring some of your own. Incredible snack choice, by the way.)
The Grand Canyon during the Winter
As winter rolls into the Southwest, the Canyon’s temperatures drop dramatically, along with the crowds. Some say this is the Canyon’s secret season, as you get to see the park as a snow-covered, winter wonderland. Summer is the most popular time to visit the Grand Canyon, but visiting during the off-season provides a completely different look into the world that exists within the National Park. The first thing you will notice is the temperatures are drastically cooler than the summer and fall months. Typically, the highs will be dancing around the 40 to 50s, and if it rains, that drops down to about 30 degrees. Although that may detract people from wanting to visit the Grand Canyon, a rainy day during the winter may just turn into a snowy one! Hopefully not too much though, because viewing the Canyon can be difficult, sometimes even impossible due to the thickness of the air and snow. It’s usually only a couple days out of the year that this may occur, so keep your eyes on National Weather Service page when planning your winter Canyon trip! Clear skies on a winter day at the Canyon calls for some of the highest visibility in the season – up to 200 miles away! Though the cooler weather and busy holiday season means less visitors in the winter, take advantage of this time to visit if you are looking for a more secluded experience up at the Grand Canyon National Park. With that in mind, most lodging and restaurant reservations are much easier to come by and overnight rates tend to go down in price as well! A winter sunset is just as spectacular as a summer one, but in its own unique way. Due to the winter sun being a little lower in the sky and not directly over the Canyon, you’ll see silhouettes of the rocky range with a lovely purple and pink color to compliment the view. As far as activities go, hiking is a little more limited and camping should only be undertaken by the experienced. The obvious answer as to why camping is more challenging this time of year, is the bone chilling cold at night. The winter night sky is a true marvel, so brave the cold for a few moments if you plan to visit this time of year and check out the magnificent view at the Grand Canyon.
Visiting the Grand Canyon in Spring
Last, but certainly not least, springtime! Very similar to fall, the weather starts to change once more. And visiting this time of year, the Grand Canyon gets warmer! The daylight lasts longer, temperatures start to rise, and all that cold begins to melt away. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the perfect excuse and just the right weather conditions to go exploring the park! Typically during the spring, the Canyon gets 12 to 14 hours of daylight. That’s a whole lot of time to see a whole lot of stuff! This time of year is very photogenic, not to say it ever isn’t, but this time of year is *particularly* picture perfect. Life gains a new breath around springtime and the two most prevalent examples would be the wildlife and the wildflowers. Keep your eyes peeled for baby deer, squirrels, rabbits, and who knows maybe you’ll even find that big elk who stole my picnic basket all those years ago. The wildflowers at the Canyon are ever so pretty, even to those who don’t particularly go out of their way to appreciate the small blossoms. From the Prickly Pear Cacti to the Desert Phlox, spring is the best time to catch them at their peak beauty. We understand that you may want to pick one out for your significant other, mother, or as a nice memento on your way home, but please leave the plants where they lay as to not disrupt the delicate life that inhabits the Canyon. Plus, you’re giving everyone else a chance to see the untarnished beauty around you. Take a picture, it’ll last longer! Springtime is one of our favorite times to visit the Grand Canyon. The temperature is perfect, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the sights you can see gazing into that big rip in the Earth we call the Grand Canyon? Surreal.
After reading our in-depth guide to the Grand Canyon National Park’s seasonal information, you are fully prepared to answer the question, what is the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon? Remember, there are no wrong answers to this question. It just depends on what you value most on your vacation.
Guided Tours of the Grand Canyon
If you’re the type of person who likes to have things planned for them and has a “go-with-the-flow” attitude, we recommend a guided tour! DETOURS American West is best known for their guided tours to the Grand Canyon. Ever wonder how many cans of Coke you can fit into the Canyon? Test our extremely knowledge guides and learn both valuable and possibly random facts about the Grand Canyon! A guided tour of the park lets you sit back, relax, and absorb all the natural wonder surrounding you without having to worry about the next turn to take or the best overlook to see. With DETOURS, you can be rest assured your time at the park will be maximized, while the stress of planning your Grand Canyon adventure is minimized. One way or another, get out there and explore Arizona’s pride and joy! No matter the season, the Grand Canyon is as magnificent as it gets.