The name is synonymous with the grandest of things, one of the seven wonders of the natural world. But to truly experience the grandeur that the Grand Canyon provides, you must explore, experience and truly take in the park and all it offers. Each season in the canyon is distinctly unique, offering visitors new experiences, new views and new memories each time they come.
A year-round vacation destination, the Grand Canyon is busiest in the summer months, but a visit in the off-season provides visitors with a stunningly different viewpoint as landscapes change and one of the nation’s busiest national parks becomes immensely less crowded.
Winter vistas deliver exceptional views of the canyon, as freshly fallen snow provides a quiet and peaceful beauty not seen by the majority of visitors to the park. Lower sun angles in the winter bring out the stunning colors of the canyon, and nearly empty trails allow visitors to truly listen to the sounds of the canyon below. Animals put on thick coats for winter, offering the chance to view (from a safe distance) the exceptional survival skills our “locals” truly have.The Clear Creek trail is a great example of a serene winter hike… lacking shade, it’s a difficult hike in the summer sun and heat, but in the winter, the full sun warms the trail enough to be perfectly comfortable trek. This informative video discusses successful winter hiking and backpacking in the Grand Canyon.
In early Spring, the canyon comes alive again and offers ample opportunity for prime sunset and sunrise viewing (minus the crowds). Spring is a perfect season to hike the South Rim’s Inner Canyon trails. These trails are typically hot and crowded in the Summer, but perfectly suited for hiking in the Spring. The Spring season is perfect for exploring, keep an eye out for wildlife making its way out of hibernation from the winter.
Summer is busy and hot, with regular thunderstorms (especially during monsoon season from July to September). Plans to visit in the summer should be made well in advance as lodging, the RV park, and camping within park boundaries fill up quickly in the summer months. While there is plenty to do when visiting in the Summer, prepare to spend some time waiting in peak season. Shuttle buses, restaurants and rental locations typically have a wait, so plan accordingly to use your time wisely. *Travel tip: When visiting in the summer, avoid the traffic and park in Tusayan and take the official Shuttle Bus into and around the park.
Autumn offers up a slower pace without hurried summer travelers, allowing visitors to slow down and really take in the canyon before them. Mild temperatures, limited crowds and great hiking abound for autumn vacationers, and nothing can compare to autumn light across the canyon. Be prepared in the fall, temperatures can change quickly, so be sure to include plenty of warm clothes should temps drop unexpectedly.
Exploring the canyon can include a walk (or bike) along the rim to take in the many stunning viewpoints, or a hike down into the canyon for a completely different experience. As hikers walk down through the Grand Canyon, they experience different ecosystems. Every plant and animal that lives in the Grand Canyon has a specially adapted to allow them to survive in different ecosystems. Learn more by visiting one of the many visitor centers and museums on the South Rim. The Grand Canyon Association is another excellent resource to learn more about the Canyon and its rich history.
No matter the season, Grand Canyon offers endless room for exploration, discovery and escape to nature. This unbelievable piece of the planet earth must truly be seen to be believed.