Visiting Grand Canyon in Winter

Winter in the Grand Canyon is a quiet, peaceful time with surprisingly excellent hiking weather, no summer crowds or queues, less competition with Phantom Ranch reservations and backpacking permits, and stunning views of the Canyon as the upper cliffs are dusted with snow.

 

Activities, Pack Lists & More

The Park's South Rim is open year-round, and roads are drivable except in inclement weather. However, be prepared, as the weather changes quickly at Grand Canyon, and so does visibility.

Planning a multiple-day visit allows visitors to experience some of these changes. In addition, it provides a good chance for a great view of the Canyon.

 

Fun Fact

The South Rim receives just under 58" each year, and when snow does fall, it will change to rain by the time it reaches the bottom of the Canyon floor. So, places like Phantom Ranch only see less than one inch of snow.

 

Winter Travel Kit - Emergency Items:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield Scraper & Fluid
  • Cell Phone
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-Powered Radio & Extra Batteries
  • Food and Water
  • Matches
  • Extra Hats, Socks, and Mittens
  • First Aid Kit with a Pocket Knife
  • Necessary Medications
  • Blankets
  • Tow Chain or Rope
  • Sand or Cat Litter (road salt is not permitted in the park)
  • Booster Cables

Prove It With a Photo

Snow in the Grand Canyon? Prove it with a picture! The Grand Canyon South Rim receives snow every year, but due to a small number of visitors, most people aren't aware of it, so your photos will be unique. And the sun sits at a different angle, so you'll get completely different hues at sunset and sunrise than during summer. Plus, the local wildlife will be roaming around (did someone say elk?).

 

Winter Hikes

  • Bright Angel Trail: One of the most popular trails at South Rim is the Bright Angel Trail. While open in the winter, this trail is famous for its drop-offs. You will likely encounter slick snow and ice for at least the first few miles.
  • Hermit Trail is your best bet when avoiding walking on ice, as it descends from a point lower than 7,000 feet of elevation. There will be snow and ice initially, but this will end quickly as you get more into the Canyon.
  • South to North Time Hike: You may decide to hike from South Rim to North Rim and back. This extreme multi-day journey takes much planning and preparation, especially in winter.
  • Shoshone Point: An unsigned dirt parking area marks the trail out to Shoshone Point. An easy one-mile walk along an old dirt road takes one through ponderosa forest, which eventually transitions to a pinyon-juniper woodland near the Canyon's rim. A relatively quiet viewpoint along the perimeter of the Canyon facing north-northeast awaits at the end of the walk.

Hiking - What To Pack

While hiking during a Grand Canyon National Park winter, pack additional gear. This will not only keep the trip enjoyable but also safe. Bring the following items:

  • Extra Layers, including thermal base layers
  • Warm Socks
  • Winter Hiking Boots
  • Spikes (to add to your boots)
  • Thin Headband Ear Muffs, worn under a Warm Winter Hat
  • Gloves or Mittens (mittens will keep your fingers warmer)
  • Pants and Jacket with a waterproof outer layer
  • Backpack
  • Trekking Poles
  • Flashlight with Strobe Feature
  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency Blanket

If you forgot something, check out the Yavapai Marketplace for all your needs!

 

Things To Do

  • Desert View Watchtower
    • Desert View Watchtower is a National Historic Landmark. The Watchtower was constructed in 1932. The design by Mary Colter is based on the architecture of the Ancestral Puebloan people of the Southwest.
      • Along Desert View Drive
        • Desert View Drive portion of SR 64 is a scenic road that begins near Grand Canyon Village. Private vehicles can drive east along the canyon rim for 23 miles (37km) to the Desert View Services Area and the East Entrance of Grand Canyon National Park.
        • What's Along the Desert View Drive portion of SR 64:
  • Pink Jeep Tours
    • Their local guides live and work here in the Grand Canyon. That means they offer unique insights into every nook and cranny as you tour the Grand Canyon from an enclosed, heated Pink Jeep® Wrangler.
  • Helicopter Tours
    • See the snowy Canyon from above via a Helicopter Tour with our partners at Papillon.
  • Tusayan Happenings