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When Should You Not Go to the Grand Canyon?

Last Update on November 21, 2023
by Sunny Samaroo
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The Grand Canyon is undoubtedly one of the most awe-inspiring places on Earth. The canyon, carved by the forceful Colorado River, is a testament to nature's artistry.

The breathtaking vistas and rugged beauty attract droves of visitors, for better and for worse. Millions of people — including you, potentially! — visit the Grand Canyon to see firsthand what all the fuss is about. 

It's good to know the best times to visit but, on the flip side, when should you not go to the Grand Canyon?

Short answer: Avoid going to the Grand Canyon during spring break and holidays.

Long answer: Spring break and holidays are the "worst" times to visit, but the peak season of the summer is also not that great. Let's explore the times when you might want to think twice before planning your trip to the Grand Canyon.

View of Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is gorgeous all year round, but the crowds are a different story.

The Worst Times to Visit the Grand Canyon

Picture this: it's a bright sunny day, and you're standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, eagerly waiting to soak in its grandeur. But wait! What's that? A sea of people, cameras in hand, jostling for the perfect photo opportunity. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common during holidays and spring break.

These peak times, during major holidays, attract an overwhelming number of visitors to the Grand Canyon. There are long lines for shuttle buses, crowded viewpoints, and limited parking spaces. 

The tranquility and serenity that make the Grand Canyon so magical can be somewhat diminished amidst the hustle and bustle.

The same goes for our Grand Canyon Antelope Canyon Tour, it's good year-round but best avoided during major holidays including Easter Break, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

View of Grand Canyon
If you can, try to see these amazing Grand Canyon views outside of summer and holidays.

Grand Canyon Peak Season

While summer may seem like an ideal time to visit due to the warm weather, it's worth considering the downsides — there are more than one. 

First of all, the scorching Arizona sun combined with the elevation of the Grand Canyon can result in sweltering heat during the summer months. Temperatures can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius)!

Besides the uncomfortable heat, summer also brings in a substantial number of visitors, particularly in June, July, and August. The narrow hiking trails become congested, accommodation options fill up quickly, and the popular viewpoints are teeming with tourists.

Low Season at the Grand Canyon

Wondering when is the least busy time of year at the Grand Canyon? It's definitely the winter. There are less crowds, which makes it an attractive time to visit if you don't mind the cold. 

However, keep in mind that not all activities may be available during the winter. Also, the Grand Canyon's North Rim is closed from late fall to early spring, as snow makes the road inaccessible.

Snow at Grand Canyon
Though it's the least popular time, winter means that the Grand Canyon is beautifully covered in snow.

The Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon

So, when is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon? Well, the sweet spots are undoubtedly the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. During these times, you can enjoy pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Spring, from March to May, offers blooming wildflowers, moderate temperatures, and a sense of renewal in the air. May in particular is one of the best months to visit. 

Fall, from September to November, brings cooler temperatures and beautiful autumn colors as the foliage transforms. Crowds start to dwindle and the Grand Canyon becomes more serene.

Man at Grand Canyon
In spring, all the greenery returns to the Grand Canyon.

Tips for Avoiding Crowds at the Grand Canyon

If your schedule doesn't allow for a visit during a less busy time of year, don't fret! There are still ways to minimize heat and the impact of crowds during peak season at the Grand Canyon.

Opt for weekdays

Unsurprisingly the weekend is the busiest time of the week at the Grand Canyon. Plenty of people visit just for a day or two on the weekend. 

If possible, plan your visit on weekdays instead of weekends. This way, you'll encounter fewer tourists and have more space to explore at your own pace.

Arrive early

Start your day before the masses by arriving at the park early in the morning. Not only will you have a better chance of finding parking, but you'll also get to enjoy the views with fewer people around. 

Even if you're not concerned about crowds, seeing the sunrise at the Grand Canyon is an incredibly memorable experience!

Explore lesser-known areas

Grand Canyon National Park is over 1 million acres in size. Now, of course, not all of that is easily accessible (if at all) to visitors, but the point stands that the Grand Canyon is massive! Expand your horizons beyond the most popular attractions and go off the beaten path.

Also, while the Grand Canyon's South Rim (where Grand Canyon National Park is) is more popular, consider visiting the North Rim instead. It can still get crowded during summer and holidays but definitely not as much as the South Rim.

Related Reading: Grand Canyon South Rim Versus North Rim

Take a guided tour

An experienced Grand Canyon tour guide will know the park like the back of their hand. That includes knowing how to maneuver through the crowds and take you to hidden gems, even during peak season.

There are tour operators at the Grand Canyon itself, as well as Grand Canyon tours from Las Vegas that may include other stops at iconic Southwest attractions.

Woman at Grand Canyon
If you know where to look, you can find solitude at the Grand Canyon any time of year.

The Bottom Line

While it's tempting to go and experience the Grand Canyon during holidays, spring break, or summer, these periods come with large crowds and/or scorching temperatures

Winter is undoubtedly cooler and calmer, but doesn't necessarily make for a full Grand Canyon experience.

For a more tranquil and enjoyable experience, while still being able to enjoy all that the  Grand Canyon has to offer, consider planning your trip during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. With fewer visitors and pleasant weather, you'll have ample opportunity to bask in the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon without feeling overwhelmed. 

If you have to visit during one of the "less ideal" times, choose weekdays, arrive early in the day, explore lesser-known areas, and join a guided tour to make the most of your visit. Regardless of when you go, stay positive and soak up all the amazing views!


Sunny Samaroo

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