Best Time To Visit Grand Canyon, According to Tour Guides

best time to visit the grand canyon

If a visit to the Grand Canyon isn’t on your bucket list, it should be! The Grand Canyon has everything you need for a first-class national parks adventure: miles and miles of hiking trails, scenic views, whitewater rafting, abundant wildlife, and fascinating rock formations.

Every season brings an entirely different experience to Grand Canyon National Park, so your trip could be totally different depending on the time of year that you decide to go. Read on for all the info you need to find your perfect season at the Grand Canyon.

Weather and Temperatures in Grand Canyon National Park

When we call the Grand Canyon big, we mean that it’s BIG. Knock your socks off big. It’s literally larger than the state of Rhode Island, and it spans two deserts: the Sonoran and the Mojave.

This means that the Grand Canyon will blow your mind. But it also means that temperatures range dramatically around and in the canyon. In one day, you could enjoy the relative cool of the North Rim in the early morning and descend to the scorching heat of Phantom Ranch inside the canyon by mid-day, with a 60-degree swing in temperature along the way.

If that sounds unbelievable (because yeah, it’s nuts), this data from the National Park Service tells you everything you need to know about the range in temperatures you might expect when you visit the Grand Canyon.

march in grand canyon
MonthSouth RimNorth RimDays of Precip.
Avg. HiAvg. LoAvg. HiAvg. Lo
January41°F18°F37°F16°F1 – 3 days
February45°F18°F39°F18°F1 – 3.5 days
March51°F25°F44°F21°F1 – 2.5 days
April60°F32°F53°F29°F.5 – 2 days
May70°F39°F62°F34°F.5 – 1.5 days
June81°F47°F73°F40°F.3 – 1 day
July84°F54°F77°F46°F1 – 2 days
August82°F53°F75°F45°F1.5 – 3 days
September76°F47°F69°F39°F1 – 2 days
October65°F36°F59°F31°F.5 – 1.5 days
November52°F27°F46°F24°F.5 – 1.5 days
December43°F20°F40°F20°F1 – 3 days
SOURCE: ​​https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/nature/weather.htm 

Visiting in Spring

february in grand canyon

Cooler temperatures and thinner crowds make spring great for a trek to the Grand Canyon.

Pros

  • Daytime temperatures are moderate, ranging from the 40s to the 90s throughout the season.
  • The Grand Canyon is a popular destination for spring breakers, but otherwise, you’ll typically encounter fewer people than at the peak of summer.
  • Even the desert blooms in spring! Whether you have a black thumb or live the #plantlady life, you’ll enjoy cactus flowers and other unique florals.
  • Spring is a great time to see wildlife and their young, which often venture out in the cooler weather and smaller crowds.

Cons

  • The North Rim remains closed through May 15, limiting your visit to the South Rim and the inner canyon.
  • Spring weather can be unpredictable, changing rapidly. You could see snow or balmy days – or both!
  • Early spring weather along the rim can be cold, with highs averaging in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 20s and 30s.

Visiting in Summer

may in grand canyon

With kids out of school and vacations in full swing, the Grand Canyon is a hot spot for summer adventures.

Pros

  • The North Rim reopens mid-May, allowing for the full Grand Canyon experience.
  • With peak National Park Service staffing levels, visitors have the most access to all of the indoor and outdoor exhibits and resources available in the park.
  • Long summer days allow for maximum adventure, with as much as 15 hours of daylight on the summer solstice in June.

Cons

  • In summer, the inner canyon gets hot, and we mean HOT. The record high at Phantom Ranch is 120 degrees.
  • Hiking and other active adventures must be approached thoughtfully, starting early in the morning when it’s still dark, carefully selecting your trails, and carrying more water than you think you’ll need.
  • Summer crowds can drive up costs and fill every yurt and vista point, making it harder to enjoy the experience.
  • Monsoon season starts in July and runs through September, bringing sudden thunderstorms that raise the risk of flash flooding inside the canyon.

Visiting in Fall

september in grand canyon

Temperatures–and visitation numbers–at the Grand Canyon dip back down in the fall for a more low-key experience at the canyon.

Pros

  • As crowds disperse, you can take the perfect selfie or visit some of the park’s indoor attractions without a thousand new friends nearby.
  • The average temperature inside the canyon drops through the fall, welcoming a more comfortable climate.
  • Aspen trees along the rims change colors in the fall, transforming into bright gold, red, and orange.
  • Wildlife may be spotted more easily as crowds disperse and cooler weather appears.

Cons

  • The North Rim begins shutting down in mid-October, so you might miss out on part of the Grand Canyon experience, depending on your timing.
  • Weather is unpredictable, and temperatures can quickly dip below freezing. Starting in October, cold temps become more consistent.
  • Shorter days mean less time to spend exploring.

We love the fall time in the Grand Canyon so much that we schedule most of our trips between September and November. 😎

Visiting in Winter

The winter months are sometimes called the Grand Canyon’s “secret season.” The lack of crowds and the promise of snow make winter an underrated option for a visit.

Pros

  • Snow in the Grand Canyon. Yep, that’s the whole pro: SNOW IN THE GRAND CANYON.
  • Minimal crowds mean maximum access to views, permits, and accommodations, making it easier to build the Grand Canyon adventure you want. 
  • The weather inside the canyon is mild throughout the season, with daytime temperatures of 56-68 degrees, dropping at night to 36-46 degrees.

Cons

  • South Rim temperatures drop in the winter, leading to cold days (41-52 degrees) and even colder nights (18-27 degrees).
  • The remote North Rim is closed throughout winter, limiting visitors’ access to the South Rim and the inner canyon.
  • If you decide to hike into the canyon, you’ll need to prepare for icy conditions, requiring additional equipment and skills to trek safely.

Best Time to Visit the South Rim

The South Rim is open year-round, and each season brings something new, so there’s no one best time to visit. Still, we’re big fans of the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. You avoid big crowds on the popular South Rim trails but still have access to the entire park and good weather.

may in grand canyon

Best Time to Visit the North Rim

Visiting the more remote North Rim: it’s fully open from May 15 to October 15 every year. Some limited use may extend into the winter, but it’s weather dependent.

In the peak season of summer, you can often escape the crowds by venturing across the canyon. The North Rim Visitor’s Center is also just a little over two hours from Zion National Park if you’re into a multi-park trip.

When Is Peak Season for Grand Canyon National Park?

Summer is peak season at Grand Canyon National Park, with historic visitor numbers starting to climb in late spring, peaking in July and August, and dropping again into the early fall. People come from all over the world to visit the Grand Canyon, so there’s a certain magic to those crowds, even if it means elbowing your way to every view.

Best Time of Year for Hiking and Backpacking

Spring and fall are widely considered the best times to hike or backpack the Grand Canyon, with milder weather from rim to canyon floor. But even winter snow and summer heat can be managed with the right tools, skills, and planning.

november in grand canyon

When Should You NOT Go to the Grand Canyon?

Is there a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon? We think not. The key is determining what kind of trip you want to take and scheduling your trip accordingly.

But you do always want to consider the weather for this and any trip to the great outdoors. Lightning from summer monsoons or hazardous winter driving conditions can be dangerous. Also, don’t try to sneak into the North Rim when it’s closed. Just don’t.

It’s also worth mentioning that a proper hiking or backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon requires a bit of training, so be sure that you’re prepared for the task ahead of you!

Most Affordable Time to Visit the Grand Canyon

With its lower-than-average visitor numbers and the promise of snowy scenery, winter is the perfect time to visit the Grand Canyon on a budget. It’s also a great time to access backcountry permits for backpacking and camping inside the park.

Best Time for Whitewater Rafting in the Colorado River

 white water rafting in grand canyon

Late spring is one of the best times for a whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, before the weather gets too hot for comfort. If you’re looking for big rapids, you might want to wait until later in the summer, after the monsoon rains fill the river.

Backpack the Grand Canyon with Explorer Chick

Spring, summer, winter or fall, there’s no better time to visit the Grand Canyon than now! Join Explorer Chick’s Grand Canyon backpacking trip for a guided four-day tour deep into the canyon, where you’ll sleep under the stars, ogle the red rocks, and prove your mettle on steep trails. We take care of the permits and camping gear — all you need to do is come ready for adventure.

Meet the Writer

Carolyn Rousch

Carolyn is a freelance writer and midwesterner-turned-desert-dweller based in Tucson, Arizona. Her writing has been featured on Rover, Amerisleep, and Tattooed Women.

She is also an enthusiastic traveler, always seeking the best food, drink, and adventures to be found in every destination (and she has the Google Docs to prove it). When she’s not on the road or at a keyboard, you might find Carolyn rock climbing, hiking, or taking photos around town.

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