Arguably the most well-known national park in the United States, the Grand Canyon now attracts some six million visitors every year. People travel from all over the globe to see the immense mile-deep canyon that stretches for 227 miles along northern Arizona.
Travelers planning to visit Grand Canyon National Park should decide whether they’re interested in hiking, whitewater rafting, or camping — all of which are very weather dependent, and may be better suited for certain times of year.
Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience on the 70-foot Skywalk, or prefer to leisurely enjoy the ample views, these are the best (and worst) times to visit the Grand Canyon.
The Best Time to Visit the North Rim
While early summer ushers in the best weather across all of the Grand Canyon, it also tends to be the busiest time to visit. Luckily, the North Rim is much more isolated than the South Rim, making it an ideal destination during peak season. Temperatures vary quite widely in the park — anywhere from the low-40s to the mid-80s between June and August. But the North Rim is almost always the cooler stretch of the Grand Canyon, and it shuts down entirely during the winter, except for backcountry camping and cross-country skiing. For access to all the North Rim’s lodging and restaurants, plan your trip between May and October.
The Best Time to Visit the Skywalk
Extending 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon, the glass floors of the West Rim’s Skywalk offer visitors a unique perspective of the gorge below. Winter is the least popular time to visit the area, and therefore the most peaceful time. Grand Canyon West is open every day of the year, but the last ticket is sold at 4:30 p.m., meaning you should plan to arrive early.
The Best Time to Visit the South Rim
Easily the most popular area in the park (and one of only two entrances that remain open all year), visitors can strike a balance between great weather and the inevitable crowds by checking out the South Rim in the fall. Temperatures can drop below freezing as early as September, so be sure to dress warm. For those looking to venture off the well-beaten path, REI Adventures offers a Grand Canyon and Beyond itinerary that includes hikes on the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails, both of which originate on the South Rim.
The Best Time to Visit the West Rim
Although it is not actually a part of the National Park System, the West Rim offers many accessible attractions year round, such as the Skywalk and the Sa’ Nyu Wa restaurant. Spring is the perfect time to visit for those who may want to take a whitewater rafting trip, many of which depart from the West Rim.
The Best Months to Visit the Grand Canyon for Weather
Weather in the Grand Canyon is at its best between April and June, when rainfall averages are low and temperatures have not yet reached their scorching summer highs. The park becomes extremely crowded when school lets out in June, so plan your visit before then, if possible.
The Worst Times to Visit the Grand Canyon
July and August are the hottest, rainiest, and busiest months in the park, making them far less ideal times to explore the Grand Canyon than spring or fall. And if you’re interested in checking out the North Rim, definitely don’t visit during the winter months, when all roads, restaurants, and accommodations are closed.
The Cheapest Times to Visit the Grand Canyon
Flights to the Grand Canyon tend to be cheapest between November and February, which (unsurprisingly) coincides with the park’s low season. While admission to the park ($30 per vehicle) remains constant throughout the year, lodging in and around the Grand Canyon is noticeably cheaper during the winter months.