The Grand Canyon is spectacular in all seasons. Planning when to travel there depends on your preferences, physical needs and abilities, and your budget.
Summer is by far the most popular time to visit the Grand Canyon. If you’re tied to your children’s school schedule, summer vacation may be your only option. And of course it’s wonderful to be able to pack lighter (though still be sure to prepare for some extremes of temperature).
If summer is when you intend to go, here are two words of advice: plan ahead. Whether you want to stay in a lodge or hotel or bring your tent or RV, many accommodations tend to get booked up early (you’ll likely find in-park national lodges booked a year in advance) and cost more than at any other time of year. Many of the tours and attractions with limited capacity – from helicopter rides to rafting and bike trips – also get full, so to avoid disappointments, make your plans and the critical reservations early.
One other note: be aware of the temperatures, particularly if you plan to hike during the day. Below the rim, temperatures can soar into the low 100s, so be sure to pack in as much water as you can carry, and protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays. At night, once you’re back on top, it can be quite chilly—sometimes as low as 40! Brrr!—so take appropriate clothing.
Summer Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit):
Above the rim: 40-85
Below the rim: 70-105
Summer Average Precipitation: 1.5 – 2 inches
Spring and Fall are truly the prime times to experience the Grand Canyon. Temperatures are milder and crowds are smaller than in the summer months making it easier to book hotels and tours. Advance planning is still to your advantage, of course, particularly if you have your heart set on staying in a particular place or taking a particular tour.
As always, temperatures can fluctuate widely from day to night and from above the rim to below it. If you are planning to hike, it is always a matter of safety to pack plenty of water and to wear layers that allow you to regulate your body temperature as you exercise through varying temperatures.
Spring Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit):
Above the rim: 20-60
Below the rim: 50-85
Spring Average Precipitation: 0-1 inch
Fall Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit):
Above the rim: 40-64
Below the rim: 45-90
Fall Average Precipitation: 1.5 inches
Winter is a beautiful time to visit the Grand Canyon if you are happy to enjoy the views and sites without planning to hike, raft, or participate in some of the other physical activities offered at other times of the year. Extreme weather may make it impossible to traverse the trails. The Canyon is still glorious from up top, and it’s far less crowded. If photography or painting is your passion, you can still find vistas and details well worth capturing. After sundown, dinner and a fireside visit can be a lovely way to end the day and savor the images and experiences stored up the day’s adventures.
Winter Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit):
Above the rim: 16-40
Below the rim: 35-45
Winter Average Precipitation: 1-2 inches