The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, drawing an average of 5 million visitors a year. Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon can be time-consuming, but we are here to help. Our knowledgeable tour guides lead the Best Grand Canyon tours from Las Vegas every day of the year and have a deep well of knowledge about all aspects of the canyon. So we polled our guides to find out the best time to visit the Grand Canyon. Here is what we found out.
Our guides rank the best seasons to visit the Grand Canyon in this order:
Freaking out because you are planning a trip in the winter and you now see it is the worst season to visit? Relax!
“The Grand Canyon is absolutely amazing year-round. Each season brings something special, none more than Winter. The Grand Canyon is known for its colorful layers, but in the winter, that can be taken to another level when snow dusts the canyon! Some of the best pictures I have ever seen have come from Winter.” - Cliff Spinola, MaxTour’s VP of Operations and veteran Grand Canyon tour guide.
Let’s break down what to expect during the different seasons.
Every tour guide polled for this article agreed that the Fall is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon. Not only is the weather the best during this period, but crowds can be light and that means prices are low. Early fall can still be a bit hot and crowded, aim for mid-fall for the best Grand Canyon expereince.
Anyone up for a summer road trip to the Grand Canyon? If so, you are not alone. Summer is the most popular time to visit the Grand Canyon. Even though the Grand Canyon is in the scorching state of Arizona and in the middle of a huge desert, most of the Grand Canyon sits at over 5,000 feet of elevation, which keeps the temperature cooler than it would be in Phonix or Las Vegas. This makes summer a great time to visit. You have the best chance of getting a bright clear day where you can see for up to a hundred miles all around the Grand Canyon.
Spring came in just behind Summer in our tour guides' rankings. While the weather is warming up during the spring, make sure you grab your winter clothes if traveling in late February or March, as it can still get very cold at the high elevation.
As we already talked about, just because it is last on this list, Winter can still be a great time to visit the Grand Canyon. So why is it last? For one, it is cold. Temperatures can get will under freezing, and add a brisk wind, and it can ruin an early morning sunrise or sunset. Also, the winter has the highest likelihood of not being able to see the Canyon. During a snowstorm, the canyon will be full of fog and you won’t be able to see anything. Also, the roads may be closed due to snow and ice. Pay close attention to the weather report when planning a winter trip to the Grand Canyon, and always follow the advice of local transportation officials.
Related Reading: How Far is Las Vegas to Grand Canyon?
What is the best time of day to visit the Grand Canyon? Our tour guides by far said sunset is their favorite. Other times of day that received high marks are sunrise, late afternoon, and late morning. In all fairness, there isn’t a bad time of day to visit the Grand Canyon, even coming at night will give you a view of some of the darkest skies in the world, as the Grand Canyon has been awarded the status of International Dark Sky Park.
Looking for more specific advice on when to visit? Here are the rankings our tour guides gave each month:
Let’s go through them one by one and hear from our guides about the pros and cons of visiting the Grand Canyon each month.
Visiting the Grand Canyon in January has a few things going for it. It is the most affordable month to visit, as visitor numbers are low. It can have some of the best scenery, particularly right after a snowstorm. Hiking in January is going to be very tough as most of the trails will be iced over. While you can still have a lot of fun visiting the Grand Canyon in January, it was voted the worst month to visit.
Visiting the Grand Canyon in February is just slightly better than in January. Near the end of the month, the temperature can warm up, and there is less chance of getting caught in a snowstorm in February. On the good side, prices and crowds remain low.
March is when the weather starts to turn, and while it is definitely warmer than December, January, or February, make sure you grab your winter gear as it can get freezing cold in March too.
Spring break is alive and well in Arizona in April at the Grand Canyon. As the weather warms up, out come travelers looking to expereince the grandest canyon in the world. April is the windiest month at the Grand Canyon, so take that into consideration when packing: a whipping wind can turn a nice sunny day into a freezing one.
May was the favorite month of a few of our guides, and for good reason. The weather is gorgeous, the summer crowds haven't arrived, and the spring blossoms are all around. Besides visiting during the crowded weekend of Memorial Day, you can’t go wrong visiting in May.
Want to learn more about the Grand Canyon and how it was formed? Loads of interesting Grand Canyon Facts are here!
The Grand Canyon sits at an elevation of over 7,000 feet, which keeps it cooler than the surrounding areas. So to escape the heat in the rest of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a great place to be. Long days leave lots of room for hiking, just make sure to pack lots of water, as the temperature can increase rapidly as you hike into the canyon.
Just like June, July brings plenty of sunshine, some heat, and loads of travelers. Drink water, wear a hat, and pack the sunscreen for your July visit.
August is the hottest month and the busiest at the Grand Canyon, which pushed it down our rankings here. Due to the Arizona monsoon, you are most likely to get rainfall during August (most precipitation in the winter is snow).
Now we are talking! All in all, we consider September one of the best months to travel in the United States, and the Grand Canyon isn’t any exception. Expect great weather, smaller crowds, and long days for you to explore this amazing destination.
The best! Our tour guides recomended traveling to the Grand Canyon in October than any other month. Perfect weather, low prices, and empty points all help make October the best month to Visit the Grand Canyon.
Visiting the Grand Canyon in November can be broken down into two parts: the first half of the month looks a lot like October, but the second half can look like December. To make the most of your trip, try to visit at the beginning of the month, and stay far away during Thanksgiving week. Just the line alone to get into the canyon can stretch for miles during Thanksgiving week.
December has a few things working against it in our rankings. First, it can get quite cold. Second, it has the highest chance of snow, and you can’t see the canyon when it snows. Third, the place is a zoo during Christmas week, we would recommend avoiding it at all costs.
There is no wrong time to visit the Grand Canyon, but if you have the chance to choose, try to go in late Fall or late Spring. Happy travels!