CategoriesTravel Guide

A Travel Guide to Grand Canyon National Park

A Travel Guide to Grand Canyon National Park

WHEN TO TRAVEL TO THE Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon can be gorgeous any time of year but the weather on the rim and down in the canyon are very different so it is best to be prepared before you go. The busiest time of year is from Memorial Day (end of May) to Labor Day (beginning of September), which is also the hottest time of year, especially down in the Canyon. Crowds shrink in late August as kids are getting ready to go back to school and many European travelers return home. December, January, and February are the slowest times of the year.

SUMMER

June through August on the rims
May to September in the canyon
Beautiful weather shines on the rims, while brutal heat tortures the inner canyon. The high elevation and low humidity causes dramatic changes in temperature from day to night; bring a jacket. The excessive heat in the canyon can be dangerous and even fatal to unprepared hikers. Average rim temperatures range from 48°F to 83°F. Inner canyon temperatures range from 72°F to 104°F.

SPRING AND FALL

April, May, September, and October on the rims.
March, April, October, and early November in the canyon
Be prepared for a variety of conditions during these seasons. May and October are typically dry, but snow on the rims is not unusual. Late April and May feature strong wind on the rims. Seasonable weather in the canyon offers some of the best times for hiking, making permits harder to obtain for overnight camping. Average rim temperatures range from 32°F to 63°F. Inner canyon temperatures range from 56°F to 82°F.

WINTER

November through March on the rims
December to February in the canyon
While the South Rim remains open year round, the road to the North Rim closes with the first heavy snowfall. Canyon views may be obscured during passing storms, but canyon formations highlighted by snow are unforgettable. Average rim temperatures range from 19°F to 45°F . Inner canyon temperatures range from 36°F to 56°F .

 


ARRIVING TO THE GRAND CANYON

The park areas are accessible by private vehicle in most places. Hermit Road, to the west of Grand Canyon Village, is closed to private vehicles except in December, January, and February. The shuttles are free and make it easy to get the various viewpoints along Hermit Road, and if you’d like you can also walk on the trail the trails.

View the Grand Canyon National Park Shuttle Map here


LODGING & FOOD IN AND AROUND THE GRAND CANYON

Every lodge in Grand Canyon has the rustic feel you’d expect in a place like this. Many are historic, including the imposing El Tovar Hotel, which is older than the park itself. Then there’s Bright Angel Lodge, with its stacked-stone fireplace that matches the arrangement of the rock layers in the canyon itself. Even if you don’t stay here I would advise you to stop in each of the lodges, walk around, and even grab an ice cream or glass of wine. Most lodges have scenic views out their back doors. All of the below properties have the advantage of being served by the park’s free shuttle bus system.

El Tovar Hotel
Bright Angel Lodge
Kachina Lodge
Thunderbird Lodge
Yavapai Lodge
Mather Campground
Desert View Campground

 

View more details about each location in my Where to Stay in Grand Canyon NP post. 

 


Top 10 Restaurants in the Grand Canyon

(According to TripAdvisor)

 
El Tovar Lodge Dining Room
Bright Angel Bicycles and Cafe
Canyon Village Market Place and Deli
Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room
Phantom Ranch
Arizona Room
Desert View Trading Post Cafeteria
Bright Angel Restaurant, Fountain & Bar
Maswik Food Court
Maswik Pizza Pub
 

SEE + DO in the Grand Canyon

 

Viewpoints

There are dozens of beautiful and unique overlooks. Enjoy fantastic vistas no matter the viewpoint.

View the Grand Canyon National Park Map here

Hermit Road

Travel the 7-mile Hermit Road. Stop at nine scenic viewpoints and
numerous unnamed overlooks. Shuttle buses and bicycles only March 1 to
November 30.

Desert View Drive

Drive along 22 miles (35 km) for views of the Colorado River. Climb to the top floor of Desert View Watchtower for a 360-degree view. Desert View Drive is the one rim road that you can drive year-round.

Walk the Rim Trail

Extending roughly 13 miles from the South Kaibab trailhead in the east to Hermits Rest in the west, this walkway is mostly flat and paved. But if you get tired of hoofing it, you’re never far from one of the stops for Grand Canyon National Park’s free shuttle buses.

 
Raft the Colorado

Wilderness River Adventures

 
Helicopter Tours

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters South Rim Tour
Grand Canyon Red Tour

 
SUNRISE AND SUNSET IN THE GRAND CANYON

 

Catch Sunrise at Hopi Point

While the Grand Canyon is a spectacular sight any time of day, sunrise bathes the canyon walls in a cool light that brings out the greens of the piñon pine and juniper trees just below the canyon rim, along with blue shadows that add a distinct sense of depth to the scene.

Catch Sunset at Navajo Point

Sunset brings a warmer lighting palette that amplifies the reds and oranges in the canyon walls and rims the clouds overhead in a golden glow laced with the pinks and purples of twilight. Sunset in Grand Canyon is Navajo Point on Desert View Road—it’s the highest overlook in the park (7,500 feet) and often less crowded than other viewpoints.

Other Locations for Sunrise

Lipan Point (south), Navajo Point (south), Yavapai Point (south), Toroweep (north), Point Imperial (north), Cape Royal (north)

Other Locations for Sunset

Shoshone Point (south), Lipan Point (south), Navajo Point (south) Yavapai Point (south), Mather Point (south), and Cape Royal (north)


HIKING IN THE GRAND CANYON

 

Bright Angel Trail

to Plateau Point / 12 miles RT / 2 days / 3110 ft. climb / Strenuous / Bright Angel Trailhead
to 3 Mile Resthouse / 6 miles RT / 3 hours / 2102 ft. climb / Moderate / Bright Angel Trailhead


South Kaibab Trail 

to Cedar Ridge / 3 miles RT / 4 hours / 1,140 ft. climb / Strenuous /Trailhead: Yaki Point
to Skeleton Point/ 6 miles RT / 2 days / 5200 ft. climb / Strenuous / Trailhead: Yaki Point


Rim Trail 

Rim Trail / 12 miles one way / 879 ft. climb / Easy


Hermit Trail

to Santa Maria Spring / 4.4 miles RT / 5000 ft. climb / Strenuous / TH: Hermits Rest
to Colorado River at Hermit Rapids / 19.4 miles RT / 2300 ft. climb / Strenuous / TH: Hermits Rest


Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls / 20 miles RT / 2,400 ft. climb / Strenuous / TH: Hualapai Hilltop


View more details about each hike in my Hiking Grand Canyon National Park post. 


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