The Grand Canyon is grand all year round. Each season is unique and special in its own way, and the best time to visit depends on what you want to see and do. Summer is hot with average temperatures of 33°C to 35°C and plenty of sunshine. All hiking trails and park facilities are open, so it's the best time to experience all the park has to offer. (It's also peak season, so be prepared for larger crowds at popular spots.)
Autumn and spring are great for hiking as the conditions are dry, it's not swelteringly hot and most trails are open, including the North Rim which is closed to the general public in winter. For white water rafting, April through October is the best as there's decent run-off.
Winter is the quietest time of year, but if you fancy exploring without the crowds, you could consider a winter hiking and camping adventure.
No matter when you visit, you must be prepared for varying weather conditions. The South Rim is 2,100 metres (7,000 feet) above sea level, and the temperature can drop considerably in the evening, even in summer.
Best for: hiking, smaller crowds, white water rafting
Spring offers a best-of-both-worlds scenario as you'll dodge the intense summer heat and tourists that arrive from late May. The days are warmer with average highs of 19°C to 25°C and there's more daylight to explore, so it's a pleasant time to go hiking. Just bear in mind that some trails in the North Rim might still be out of bounds due to snow. Spring is also the best time for white water rafting at Lava Falls and Crystal Rapids with fun, moderate rapids.
The weather can be unpredictable in spring, particularly at the beginning of the season, so be prepared to layer up and down.
Best for: hiking, North Rim accessibility
School’s out for summer, which means one thing: big crowds. The peak season (June to August) sees thousands of tourists every day, so it's best to hit the trails and visit popular viewpoints early to beat the crowds. Summer is one of the best seasons to hike the North Rim trail, which boasts fantastic scenery and cooler daytime temperatures.
Due to the park's elevation you might not realise how strong the sun is due to the cool canyon breeze, so ensure you top up your sunscreen regularly and wear a sunhat. August is the wettest month, and while you might experience the odd thunderstorm, they tend to come in short, intense bursts and shouldn't disrupt your plans.
Best for: hiking, backpacking, thinner crowds
Crowds dwindle in September when the school summer holidays end. Temperatures also drop and the rains fizzle out, making it a great time for backpacking. The Grand Canyon isn't famous for its autumn foliage as most of the trees are evergreen, but there are a few sections of aspens on the North Rim that'll impress you.
Most trails and facilities stay open until the cold weather arrives, but it has been known to snow as early as October. Ensure you pack for all weather conditions.
Best for: thin crowds, winter scenery
Crowds, what crowds? Winter is the most peaceful time of year at the Grand Canyon, so if you're looking to immerse yourself in its beauty without the background noise of large crowds, this is when to do it. The South Rim remains open, but many of the park’s facilities close for winter, including the North Rim trails (unless you're on an expert-led winter trekking adventure). Average lows drop to 1°C, so pack plenty of warm layers and a waterproof jacket.
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