Visiting Grand Canyon During Winter

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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

A Slower Pace

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 Bright Angel Trail 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.

 
With snow covering the ground, seven vintage railroad passenger cars in a row as several hundred people are getting off the train.
Grand Canyon Railway daily service from Williams, Arizona, offers a historic journey to the South Rim.

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

Visiting

The South Rim of the park is open year round, and roads are drivable except in inclement weather. Weather changes quickly at Grand Canyon, and so does visibility.

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.

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

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

Wildlife

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

NPS Photo/M. Quinn

Camping

During winter months, Mather Campground, in Grand Canyon Village, is open on a first-come, first-served basis using an automated fee machine at the campground office kiosk, at the entrance to the campground. Trailer Village RV Campground is also open all winter, and offers full hookups.

Winter solitude blankets the North Rim of Grand Canyon, which is closed to all vehicle traffic between December 1 and May 15.

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.

 
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.

 
a car driving on a plowed but snow-packed road. A thick layer of snow is covering the trees.
Winter visitors to the park should be prepared for icy roads and periods of low visibility during storms.

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:

 
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, severe weather and conditions, and changes in wildlife behavior present challenges to be aware of when visiting national parks. Be prepared for your trip and stay alert to have a fun, safe winter adventure.

Enjoying National Parks during the Winter >


Be prepared, pack your jacket and winter gloves, avoid the crowds, and come experience a Grand Canyon winter wonderland!

 
a portion of a round stone tower of rough-hewn masonry with snow covering the ground and a bright blue sky.
Desert View Watchtower just after a snowstorm.

NPS Photo/D. Pawlak

Winter Travel Kit
Emergency Items:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper & fluid
  • Cell Phone
  • 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
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables

Last updated: January 21, 2022

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PO Box 129
Grand Canyon , AZ 86023

Phone:

928-638-7888

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