Why You Should Consider Traveling to the Grand Canyon in the Winter Instead of Summer

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Beat the Crowds

In the summer and early fall, the Grand Canyon is packed with visitors. That is not a problem in the winter. There were times we were able to be at one of the popular stops along the rim road, and no one else was there with us. It was an amazing experience.

no crowds at the grand canyon in winter
My family, practically alone!

Lower Lodging Prices

An informal survey I conducted online showed winter prices at 30-40% less than summer pricing. If you are a budget traveler, this can be a great saving.

Drive the Roads Yourself

From December to March, the South Rim Grand Canyon shuttle goes offline, and passenger cars are allowed on roads usually off limits. That means you can move at your own pace, and we really enjoyed being able to do this. The roads were snow packed when we visited, so you might need to take care. But the park rangers close the roads if they get too dangerous.

Grand Canyon snowstorm approaching.

See a View Most People Haven’t

After watching a snow storm roll in, we got to see a dusting of snow on the Grand Canyon. The white against the red canyon was a beautiful contrasting site. The vast majority of the visitors to the Grand Canyon will never see those sights.

Animal Sightings

We saw a lot of elk. They were everywhere in the Grand Canyon Village, and were pretty cool to see. They were eating low hanging leaves, and just generally milling about.

Animals in the Grand Canyon snow.

We also saw quite a few deer as well.

BUT – There are some drawbacks to going in the winter.

It Can Be Cold

My hands froze taking photos of the sunset, and the kids were less willing to hike than they would have been if it were less extreme temperatures.

Grand Canyon Snow Angel – by Claire.

The North Rim is Closed

The North Rim receives more snow than the South Rim, and is closed for the coldest months of the winter. The East and South Rim are open 365 days a year. The West Rim is also open, but is run by the Hualapai Nation and is run separately from the National Park.

National Park Service – Grand Canyon Website