Grand Canyon in Winter

Grand Canyon In Winter (Does It Snow At The Grand Canyon?!!!)

Are you thinking about going to the Grand Canyon in Winter? The Grand Canyon in the winter is an amazing time to visit.
We visited the Grand Canyon in the winter and for those of you who are wondering “Does the Grand Canyon get snow.” The answer is YES!
No need to fear or be concerned about the Grand Canyon winter weather. As long as you dress appropriately you will be fine.  
In this post, we will give tips for visiting the Grand Canyon in winter. This will include the Grand Canyon winter weather expectations, the best Grand Canyon hikes in winter, and Grand Canyon winter itinerary to help you plan out your visit. 
So if you are visiting the Grand Canyon in December, January, February, or early March there is a possibility of a Grand Canyon snow alert. 
Let's get started exploring the Grand Canyon in winter! 
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Visiting Grand Canyon in Winter

If you have wondered if the Grand Canyon is worth visiting in winter we have a few recommendations and ideas to make your trip awesome. 

We had a great time even with all the snow at the Grand Canyon.

In this Grand Canyon winter itinerary, we will give you a plan of action for a trip to the Grand Canyon in December, January, February, or even March. 

Let's talk Grand Canyon weather first! 

Grand Canyon Winter Weather

Visiting the Grand Canyon in January

We are going to focus on the Grand Canyon winter weather at the South Rim. The South Rim is open year-round. 

Highs (F)43414551
Lows (F)20182125

Don't Be Fooled

The Grand Canyon winter temperatures in this table do not look too bad. There are many micro-climates at the Grand Canyon.  That means some areas can be really cold and other areas can be a lot warmer. 

The South Rim receives a lot of snow starting as early as November and lasting in some places until April. 

Fun Fact about Grand Canyon Snow

For every 1000 feet you go down into the Grand Canyon the temperature increases 5.5 degrees.  It is warmer at lower elevations.  

That is why you will see a lot of Grand Canyon snow fall at the top of the South Rim but not at lower elevations.  It typically will turn to rain when it hits the bottom of the Grand Canyon. 

Is Winter a Bad Time to Visit the Grand Canyon? 

No, The Grand Canyon in the winter is a great time to visit.

Top Reasons to Visit the Grand Canyon in Winter

  • Fewer Crowds
  • Cooler Temps than Summer

What to Wear in the Grand Canyon in Winter

What to wear in the Grand Canyon in Winter

You will need full winter clothes including hat, gloves, and good hiking boots that are insulated.  I had a few layers on under my sweatshirt but I never got warm enough to shed any layers.  

What to Wear to the Grand Canyon in Winter

When we went, the Grand Canyon snow pack was hard. The main trail was solid ice.  I suggest bringing spikes if you plan on hiking.  

Grand Canyon South Rim Winter Hours

Winter Grand Canyon South Rim

The Grand Canyon South Rim is open year-round.  The Grand Canyon North Rim is closed for winter. You will have to come to the Grand Canyon South Rim during the winter or visit the West Rim.

The Grand Canyon West Rim is not part of the National Park it is owned by the Hualapai Tribe.  It is open year-round.  

The South Rim may not be accessible during inclement weather.  It is advised to have a backup plan.  This means having flexibility with your travel plans. 

Hours and Admission

The visitor center has limited hours during the winter.  If you have a America The Beautiful National Park Pass you are good to go. If not the cost for admission is $35 per car. 

Parking at the Grand Canyon South Rim

Visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter, you probably won't have a problem finding a parking spot.  You will want to park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.  There is an RV parking lot located in this area as well. 

Grand Canyon in Winter Itinerary

Grand Canyon December weather

Now, the fun part. I am sure you are asking yourself “What is there to do at the Grand Canyon in winter?”

Grand Canyon Winter 1 Day Itinerary

I am going to give you a Grand Canyon winter itinerary.  This itinerary will take around 3-4 hours to complete.  Walking in the snow at the Grand Canyon takes a lot of time! 

1. Grand Canyon Visitor Center

South Rim Visitor Center Grand Canyon in Winter

The Grand Canyon Visitor Center will be your first stop. Be sure to check out the exhibits inside! It is always fun to learn all you can! 

At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, you can ask rangers for recommendations on the best Grand Canyon winter hikes and other fun activities to enjoy. You will also want to find out what areas are open at the Grand Canyon in Winter. 

We always love getting the Junior Ranger books and collector badges when we visit the national parks.  You can do that at the visitor center. 

Activities near Grand Canyon Visitor Center

There is a park store, cafe, and bike rental shop located just outside of the visitor center.  If it hasn't snowed yet you may still be able to ride bikes.  Unfortunately, bikes are not allowed on the rim trail. 

If you plan to visit the Grand Canyon in January- March, your best bet is exploring the 2 mile Rim Trail from the visitor center to the Grand Canyon Village.

There are lots of fun stops along the way. This is the path we took and we had a fabulous time.  I will include the stops we made on our visit and let you know what you can do in each area. 

Shuttle Bus Option

If hiking isn't your thing no worries, there are plenty of overlooks to check out.  There is a shuttle bus that runs every 10-15 minutes which will get you close to some of the fun options I list below. 


2. Grand Canyon in Winter Mather Point Overlook

Hiking in Grand Canyon in Winter

One of the first stops you will make in your winter in the Grand Canyon itinerary is the Mather Point Overlook. Mather Point is located a short walking distance from the visitor center.

This overlook provides some amazing views!  You can see 60+ miles to the west and 30+miles to the east. It is one of the best places to see the Grand Canyon in Winter.

Be Careful

There is a fence rail along this section, but still, be careful not to slip on ice.  This is a great place to take pictures and take in the view.  Sunrise and sunset are very popular times to enjoy Mather Point.  

3. Grand Canyon Winter South Rim Trial

Grand Canyon winter hiking

The Grand Canyon South Rim Trail is 13 miles long from the Kaibab Trailhead to Hermits Rest.  We started at Mathers Point and only walked about 2 miles. It is paved and the elevation gain is minimal  When we visited it was really snow-packed. This made it very difficult to walk on.  

We did not bring crampon spikes, but that would have been very helpful.  I had really nice hiking boots on and it was okay but I was moving a lot slower than I normally would. 

Visitor Center to Yavapai Point Geology Museum

It is about .7 miles from the Visitor Center to the Yavapai Point Geology Museum.  This part of your hike is pretty cool! You can look out and see the Colorado River.  There are lookout telescopes along the path that help you see different spots along the way. 

4. Yavapai Point Geology Musuem

Does it snow in the grand Canyon yes!

As you head down the South Rim Trail about halfway to the Grand Canyon Village there is a Geology Museum.  This is actually a cool place to stop.  

The site has been around since 1928 and was built right on the edge of the Grand Canyon.  In 2007 new exhibits were built and a three-dimensional model of the Grand Canyon was added to the site.  

View Point of the Grand Canyon in Winter

If you head to the back of the museum there is a viewpoint area.  This area used to be open but now there are enclosed glass windows. 

You can look out and see a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon in winter! Plus, you will be able to warm up inside! 

5. Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon winter Village

The Grand Canyon Village is a fun area with restaurants, gift shops, and museums.  

You can visit the different venues and spend about an hour in this area exploring.  It is nice that these locations have indoor facilities because it will get you out of the cold for a little bit. 

6. Verkamps Visitor Center

Grand Canyon December

I think the highlight of the Grand Canyon Village is the Verkamp Visitor Center. This visitor center focuses on the historic community around the Grand Canyon.

History of the Grand Canyon Village

I really like the walking history trail inside. The exhibits were pretty cool to see. It is a fun way to learn. 

7. El Tovar Hotel

Grand Canyon January El Tovar

El Tovar is a historic hotel located in the Grand Canyon Village. It has a charming cabin feel.  If you are hungry after your hike you can eat at the dining room.  They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Dinner does require a reservation. 

If you want to book a night at the El Tovar there are 78 historic suites available.  

 8. Hopi House

Is Grand Canyon Open in Winter - Hopi House

The Hopi House is more of a gift shop with Native American products.  There is some fantastic art located on the upper floor.  

It was pretty expensive but it is really cool to look around!

9. Kolb Studio

Grand Canyon Winter Kolb Studio

The history behind the Kolb Studio is so fun.  The Kolb brothers came to the Grand Canyon in the early 1900s and captured some amazing photographs. 

Later, they made one of the first movies of them floating the Colorado River. 

Now the Studio honors them with beautiful photos of the Grand Canyon.  

Take in the Grand Canyon in Winter

The views from Kolb Studio are breathtaking! It is a great place to take photos of hikers making their way down from Bright Angel Trail. 

10. Lookout Studio

Can you visit Grand Canyon in the Winter - Lookout Studio

The Lookout Studio is another structure that was built on the edge of the rim.  It is a fantastic place to take photos.  There is a small gift shop inside now. 

Historic Site 

Historically, the lookout house was built by Mary Colter to compete with the Kolb brothers.  It used to be used as a hang-out location but now it is a gift shop. 

11. Grand Canyon Winter Train

Grand Canyon wintertime train

There is a train from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon.  This is a fun way to get to the Grand Canyon.  You can book your tickets online.

Departure Times for Grand Canyon in Winter

The train departs at 8:30 a.m. each day and returns at 4:45 p.m.  The train stop is at the Grand Canyon Village.  

Fun Grand Canyon Winter Adventures

The Polar Express is available to book during the winter. This is a night time adventure with cookies and hot  chocolate and of course Santa Clause. 

12. Hiking in Winter at Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon in Winter South Rim

There are a few hikes you can do at the Grand Canyon in Winter.  A lot of the areas are closed during winter at the Grand Canyon but there is one trail near the South Rim that we will highlight. 

To be able to hike at the Grand Canyon in winter you will need to make sure you have the right equipment and clothing.  

13. Bright Angel Trailhead

Grand Canyon in Snow

Miles: 10 miles to Phantom Ranch

Difficulty: Hard Intense coming up

The Bright Angels trail is one of the most popular hikes at the Grand Canyon.  During the winter you will want to be extremely careful.  

The snow on the trail can be higher than 1 foot.  We did not have the right equipment and I did not trust myself to walk down into the Grand Canyon with snow all around. We did see a lot of hikers heading down. 

What is really nice is when you get to a certain point down, there is no longer snow.  The temperatures vary in the Grand Canyon so it actually gets warmer as you head down. 

Angle Bright Trail

This hike is supposed to take 5-7 hours just to get down and double the time coming back up! The good news is there are accommodations at Phantom Ranch, but you have to enter a lottery to be able to stay at one of the dormitories or cabins.

There is also dining available but reservations are required.  

Mule Trips 

If hiking isn't your thing mule trips are super popular and fun!  

Are You Ready to Visit the Grand Canyon in Winter?

Grand Canyon Winter adventure

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what to expect when you go to the Grand Canyon in Winter.  I think it is nice to have a Grand Canyon winter itinerary.  

Even if you only have a few hours the Grand Canyon in Winter is a fantastic place to visit! On our trip, we didn't bring the kids but now after going, I would say it is a great National Park for kids.  There are so many wonderful West Coast National Parks.  

Lots of group tours will include Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park,and Antelope Canyon. 

Facebook Community

If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community. You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip.  I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me.  It is a great group to join!


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  1. I loved reading about and seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon in winter! I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon at all, but my kids went with some friends last winter, and it snowed while they were there! I think I need to make it a point to head up there, this winter. I would love to go on the train ride!

  2. There are so many great reasons to travel in winter — fewer crowds, more budget friendly accommodations, etc. Visiting the Grand Canyon in winter looks like a fun adventure.

  3. I think it would be cool to travel to see the snow-capped landscape of the Grand Canyon in winter. I like that there are fewer crowds and places you can go indoors to view as well.

  4. It’s great to hear they still have a few hiking trails open at the Grand Canyon in the winter. And I never thought about the fact that it would be warmer at lower elevations! Makes sense!

  5. We have visited the Grand Canyon in the winter. It is beautiful to see the snow in the canyon. Amazing photos at sunrise were are favorite.

  6. I’d love to see the Grand Canyon covered in snow – I imagine it’s a beautiful sight! Wouldn’t much like to be hiking it though! I’m not one for the cold.

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