The Best Time to Visit Grand Canyon (Spring 2024)

The best time of the year to visit Grand Canyon National Park is from March to May and September to November.

March to May is when the summer crowds have yet to arrive and the weather is comfortable. Daytime temperatures are in the 60s, and nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s.

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September to November

Fall is another popular time of year to visit the Grand Canyon. There are far fewer tourists vying for hotel rooms and trail space now that kids are back in school and parents are back at work.

In fall, the temperatures can fluctuate from the mid-20s to the mid-70s, so bring a variety of clothing to stay comfortable. Because of the thinner crowds, you’ll find more facilities and trails available, but as the snow starts to fall, you can expect many places (especially the North Rim) to be closed.

What’s on :

December to February

If you want to visit the Grand Canyon when it’s relatively quiet, winter is the season to do it. But be prepared for chilly temperatures ranging from the mid-twenties to the upper teens.

The North Rim will be off-limits to visitors because it often receives up to 150 inches of snow, but many of the South Rim’s paths are still accessible. Just make sure to bring warm clothing and water-resistant footwear.

What’s on :

March to May

This is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon when the daytime temperatures are still cooler, and summer tourists have not arrived yet.

The North Rim may still be off-limits owing to lingering snow, so bear that in mind when visiting certain park locations. It’s also challenging to stay ahead of the weather because of the canyon’s various heights. Although temperatures can change considerably, highs often fall between the low 50s and the 70s. Layer your clothes liberally.

What’s on :

June to August

Summer is the peak season but may not be the best time to visit.

The park experiences long, bright days with temperatures ranging from 40 to 85 degrees. Bring plenty of sunblocks and a hat. The North Rim can get fairly chilly, while regions near the Colorado River tend to be warmer. There are often intense rainstorms throughout July, but they never continue for very long.

The park’s amenities, on both the South and North Rims, are available during this period. If you intend to camp or stay in the park, make your reservations well in advance because space is limited. Aim to get on the trails by 10am if you want to avoid the crowds.

What’s on :

Best time for hiking (May)

Hiking in Grand Canyon

The best time to hike the Grand Canyon National Park is in May.

May temperatures are warm enough (60 to 70ºF daytime) to be comfortable but cool enough to safely hike all of the park’s trails. Hiking in Grand Canyon National Park during the summertime can be dangerous. 

Most trails lack access to water, and many feature steep climbs and rocky terrain with little protection from the blazing sun. This renders many sections so trail impassable in the hot summer months.

In May, colder temperatures at higher elevations have warmed, melting any lingering snow, while highs at lower elevations are still comfortable.

Read More : Hiking Trails in Grand Canyon National Park

Best time for camping (Fall & spring)

Grand Canyon National Park - Camping Guide

Fall or spring is the best time for camping in Grand Canyon National Park.

The shoulder months between September to November and March to May are a time to enjoy Grand Canyon’s camping opportunities. This is mainly due to the weather and crowds. In the spring and fall, crowds are much thinner than during the summertime, making access to campgrounds much easier.

During the peak months, reservations must typically be made in advance to secure a spot. Alternatively, you can camp at many free campsites outside the national park. 

Spring and fall also bring cooler weather, making camping more enjoyable than during the scorching heat of the summer.

Read More :

Best time to avoid crowds (December)

Grand Canyon National Park - Thrill-Seeking

The best time to avoid crowds in Grand Canyon National Park is December.

The temperatures are low, and the days are shorter in the wintertime, but the crowds are also very thin. This equates to smaller crowds and better deals on travel and accommodations. Temperatures typically drop into the teens at night and reach into the mid-40s during the day.

Make sure to pack plenty of layers and winter gear, including jackets, hats, gloves, wool socks, winter boots. If you plan on hiking, it’s not a bad idea to have crampons to deal with snow and ice.

On the contrary, the peak period in Grand Canyon is from late June to late August, at the peak of summer when it’s dry, sunny and warm.

Best time for rafting (July)

Rafting in Grand Canyon

The best time for rafting on the Colorado River is July.

While midsummer is the most crowded time of year in the park, it’s also the warmest, which is the kind of weather you want for whitewater rafting. You’ll want the air temperature to warm you, considering you’ll be splashed by water from the Colorado River, which averages a bone-chilling 50 degrees.

Daytime highs during July reach well into the 80s.

Just keep in mind that rafting is one of the most popular activities in the Grand Canyon. You’ll want to make reservations early for rafting on the river.

Best time for biking (September)

Biking in Grand Canyon

The best time for biking in the Grand Canyon is September.

With all of the park’s roads open to cyclists, biking is a popular way to explore the Grand Canyon. The heat of the summer makes cycling extremely uncomfortable. However, by September, the heat begins to dissipate, with daytime highs reaching into the 70s on the park’s south rim.

Cyclists will also compete with less traffic during this month as crowds begin to thin after Labor Day. Multiple Greenways offer great riding opportunities as does Hermit Road, which is closed to private vehicles through mid-October.

Best time to ride a mule (June)

Mule Riding in Grand Canyon

The best time to ride a mule in the Grand Canyon is June.

There are two options for exploring the interior of the Canyon: mule and foot. The best time for riding a mule down the canyon largely depends on your ability to tolerate heat. 

With highs in the low 80s, June offers warm enough temperatures during the day that you can splash in the water of the Colorado River when you make it to the bottom. However, the heat isn’t so intense that you bake on those exposed stretches of trail.

Keep in mind that reaching the bottom of the canyon involves a 7 or 8-mile hike each way. For that reason, most mule rides to the canyon floor are multi-day adventures.

Best time for a scenic drive (February)

The Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

The best time for a scenic drive through Grand Canyon National Park is February.

While going to Grand Canyon National park in February may seem like an odd time to visit, it affords some of the best opportunities for driving through the park. The park is crowded with road traffic through much of the year; however, winter weather thins the crowds, allowing you to drive through without feeling pressured from behind.

It’s also one of the few months when scenic Hermit Drive is open to private vehicles. Just make sure you check the weather before you go as the Grand Canyon does see snowfall in the wintertime.

Best time for a helicopter ride (May)

The best time for a helicopter ride in the Grand Canyon National Park is in May.

Making reservations during the peak summer months can be difficult for helicopter tours due to the high volume these companies receive. May presents a great option to see the park from the sky while avoiding the crowds.

May (and June) also happens to be one of the driest months of the year at the park, making it less likely that you’ll encounter weather that would cancel or shorten your trip.

Gaby Pilson

Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.