If the Grand Canyon is on your travel bucket list, your first question may not be which Rim to visit or whether to drive yourself or go on a guided tour-it is when to go.
The best time to visit the Grand Canyon depends on what you want to do while there. Before you book a flight, consider what activities you would like to do.
- Would you like to hike? Will you be happy hiking along the Rim Trail, or would you rather trek into the Grand Canyon?
- Do you want to camp or stay overnight, or would you prefer a day trip?
- Would you be interested in an airplane or helicopter flight, or how about a floor landing?
- Do you want to experience the Skywalk?
- Do you have children with you?
- Would you like to go whitewater rafting on the Colorado River?
If your main objective is to see the sights and snap a few photos, you have more flexibility with your schedule, though some activities, such as camping, hiking, and rafting, are easier (and cheaper) to book during certain months. Regardless of your preference, our guide can help you pick the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon.
Best Times Of The Year To Visit Grand Canyon
It is often considered the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon in spring and fall (“shoulder seasons”). Daytime temperatures are typically cooler and crowds are thinner during these seasons.
- A moderate temperature is ideal for hiking. Daytime highs are typically between 50° and 60° on the South Rim, and between 70° and 80° on the West Rim.
- The crowds are thin compared to peak summer months.
- The rain is usually less in the fall.
- The South and North Rims are blooming with wildflowers. The intensity of the blooms varies depending on how much precipitation falls in the winter, but it’s always an impressive sight.
- It gets very cold at night, with lows ranging from the mid 20s to the low 30s.
- Late-season snow and rain storms are unpredictable, which can make dressing for the weather challenging.
- Snow has made some areas inaccessible, including the North Rim.
Summer is the most popular season to visit the Grand Canyon since schools are out. It’s also the busiest and hottest season of the year.
- Without having to take time off from school, planning a family vacation is easier during the summer months.
- Enjoy the long, sunny days while exploring the Canyon
- The tourism industry is in full swing, so you can take part in a wide variety of activities when you visit.
- The North Rim is now open! During the daytime, the temperatures on the North Rim are much cooler, averaging in the mid-60s to high 70s.
- This is the busiest time of year, so crowds are thick and lodging is hard to find. If you are only available in the summer but want to avoid the crowds, think about visiting the North Rim.
- It can be very hot during the day, with temperatures ranging from 70-mid 80s on the South Rim, mid 90s and above on the West Rim, and even hotter within the Canyon, making it very difficult to hike.
- Sunburns are easily caused by not using sunscreen or not wearing appropriate clothing, especially on breezy days when you may not feel the warning signs.
- Getting dehydrated is also easier, especially when hiking.
- The summer is monsoon season. From July through mid-September, heavy rainstorms are common, but they don’t last long.
Autumn welcomes smaller crowds and more comfortable temperatures, similar to spring.
- With an average daytime temperature between 50° and 60°, the temperatures are beginning to cool down. It can get very cold overnight, as it does in the spring.
- Kids are back in school, so there are fewer crowds.
- Autumn foliage is spectacular.
- The shorter days make it easier to catch a Grand Canyon sunset.
- As with springtime, the weather can change unpredictably, with a chance for rain or snowfall, along with warmer-than-usual temperatures, making it difficult to pack appropriately.
The winter weather can cause delays and obstruct views, but with the smallest crowds of the year and the chance for a snow-covered Canyon, it can be one of the most picturesque and peaceful times to visit.
- The crowds are much thinner, making it easier to take the perfect Grand Canyon photo, as well as book accommodations if you want to stay overnight.
- Hotels are likely to be cheaper than during peak season, which makes it easier to find hotel deals.
- During these colder months, the South Rim trails stay open, but be sure to pack warm footwear and clothing.
- You might see a snow-covered Grand Canyon.
- Travel may be delayed or your view may be obstructed by snow or other winter weather. Hiking may also be difficult, especially in the Canyon. Pack appropriately if you plan to hike.
- It’s much cooler on the South Rim, with daytime highs averaging around the low 40s and overnight lows in the teens and low 20s. If you wish to visit during winter, head to the West Rim – daytime highs are typically in the mid-60s to mid-70s.
- The North Rim is closed during winter.
When deciding when is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon, thinking about what you want to see and do while you’re there can help.
- Spring and fall: Moderate temperatures and fewer crowds make the shoulder seasons a great time to visit, especially if you wish to go hiking. If you want to stay overnight, you may have an easier time finding accommodation if you go rafting.
- Summer: Despite high temperatures and heavy crowds, summer is the most popular time of year to visit. Prepare yourself properly for hiking and bring sunscreen and sunglasses. Also open, the North Rim is typically cooler and less crowded than the South Rim.
- Winter: Although the weather may be colder and more likely to be snowy, the crowds are thinner, and winter (aside from the holiday season) is also the easiest and probably cheapest time of year to find accommodation.If you’re keen to hike, the Rim Trail is open year-round. However, the North Rim is closed, and rafting tours are not offered.
Whatever time of year you decide to visit, you can look forward to spectacular sites, unparalleled photo ops, and memories to last you a lifetime.