Visiting Grand Canyon During Winter

a few people behind railings at a scenic overlook viewing a vast canyon landscape of peaks and cliffs with bands of snow accenting colorful rock layers.
View from Mather Point on the South Rim after a recent snow.

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

several buildings and a large rustic hotel on the edge of a canyon cliff, with a thick layer of snow covering everything as fog is clearing.
Grand Canyon Village covered with a blanket of fresh snow.

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

Yes, we're open! (South Rim only)

Colder temperatures, shorter days, and snow bring a slower pace to one of the nation's most visited national parks.

After the December holidays, during January and February, winter visitors find paths less traveled throughout the park. Those prepared for ice and snow will find the inner canyon trails a bit quieter and scenic drives less congested.

Dramatic winter storms, bringing several inches of snow, are contrasted with sunny days, perfect for walking along the rim of the canyon. Crisp air and a dusting of snow bring a new perspective to the temples and buttes emerging from the canyon floor and provide a perfect backdrop to view the canyon's flora and fauna.

a car driving on a plowed but snow-packed road. A thick layer of snow is covering the trees.
South Entrance Road on the South Rim in winter. Please note, the park does not use snowmelt or salt to minimize snow and ice on the roadways. Drive slow!

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

Visiting & Driving

The South Rim of the park is open year round, and roads are drivable except in inclement weather. Please note, the park's road crew does not use snow melt or salt to minimize snow and ice on roadways but rather uses rock cinders to increase tire traction. Tire chains are generally not required but may be used by any vehicle, especially in snow or slippery conditions.

  • Before visiting the park, please check Arizona DOT's webpage that provides road closure information, including for Grand Canyon National Park: AZ 511.
  • You can also check road conditions and closure information by calling the park's Roads Line at 928-638-7496.

Planning a visit for multiple days allows visitors to experience some of these changes, and provides a good chance for a great view of the canyon.

Two rangers pose with a created snow person on the rim of the canyon
Emergency Services and Law Enforcement staff routinely respond to stranded visitors during the winter season.

NPS Photo

Winter Travel Kit
Emergency Items:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper & fluid
  • Cell phone & charger
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio & extra batteries
  • Food and water
  • Matches
  • Extra hats, socks and mitten
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Sand or cat litter (road salt is not permitted in the park)
  • Booster cables

two people wearing metal over the shoe traction devices are walking on an icy footpath.
Bringing over-the-shoe foot traction is recommended. You may encounter icy footpaths and trails.

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

Focus on Safety

Don’t let winter hazards take you by surprise! Colder temperatures, slippery road and trail conditions, and severe weather can present challenges when visiting Grand Canyon National Park in the winter. Be prepared for your trip and stay alert to have a fun, safe winter adventure. Grand Canyon trails have snow-packed, icy & muddy places.

  • Slip-on shoe traction devices and trekking poles are recommended. Bring yours with you, or purchase them at shops within Grand Canyon Village (South Rim).

Enjoying National Parks during the Winter >

during winter, trees that have lost their leaves along both sides of a small creek. on the right is a row of backcountry campsites alongside the creek.
Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of Grand Canyon during January.

NPS/M. Quinn

Be Prepared

Locations inside the canyon, like Phantom Ranch and adjacent Bright Angel Campground, offer milder temperatures in winter, and backcountry camping permits may be more easily obtained during the winter months than during peak hiking seasons.

Winter hikers and backpackers should be prepared for cold temperatures, icy trails, and short daylight hours. NPS backcountry rangers recommend bringing over-the-shoe-traction devices, trekking poles, extra snacks, flashlights/headlamps, and layered clothing that can easily be added or removed to adapt to a variety of weather conditions.

Please note, there are many trail closures in effect from December 2023-April 2024. For the latest trail information, including closures, please visit our webpage here: Key Hiking Messages - Grand Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (

a snowy campsite with two tents, two folding chairs and a picnic table that has been cleared of snow.
Winter camping on the South Rim is available at Mather Campground and Trailer Village RV Campground, in Grand Canyon Village.

NPS Photo/M. Quinn


During the winter months, in Grand Canyon Village, reservations for Mather Campground, can be made through Reservations are recommended during the December holiday period.

Trailer Village RV Campground is also open all winter, with full hookups.

Winter solitude blankets the North Rim of Grand Canyon, which is closed to all vehicle traffic between December 1 and May 14.

Hikers with a backcountry camping permit and prepared for a multi-day canyon adventure, can walk from the South Rim to the North Rim for a winter camping experience in one of the most inaccessible locations in the country.

mule deer browsing in a snow covered forest.
New growth provides a winter treat for foraging mule deer

NPS Photo/M. Quinn


Mule deer traipsing through fresh snow and bald eagles soaring above the canyon rims are just some of the wildlife spotted during winter.

Many animals slow down for the winter and are seen less frequently, but there is still a chance to see elk, California condors, ravens, and Abert's squirrels along the rim and in nearby ponderosa pine forests.

Most animals in the park have developed some sort of adaptation to the cold weather. Rock squirrels, frequently seen along the rim during summer months, spend the fall caching food and preparing for the cold winter. Although they spend much of the winter in their burrows, they can be spotted along the rim during warmer days.

Mule deer and elk grow thick winter coats to deal with the low temperatures and the Abert's and Kaibab tree squirrels grow fur tassels on their ears to keep out the cold.

A snowy canyon landscape from the South Rim
Sunrise from the South Rim with 'The Battleship' glowing in sunlight.

NPS Photo

A Winter Getaway

A trip to Grand Canyon can be a great winter getaway, especially with careful planning.

The National Park Service Mobile App is a great place to start. You can download the maps and content from Grand Canyon National Park for offline use. It’s especially handy if you’re exploring remote areas or concerned about data limits.

You should also check:

Last updated: December 6, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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