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The Best (and Worst) Times of Year to Visit the Grand Canyon

Photo of the Grand Canyon

Are you planning a trip to the Grand Canyon but not sure when to go? Is there really ever a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon? The answer is YES! When you visit will highly affect your enjoyment. Not only does the Grand Canyon experience sweltering heat and snow, but certain times of the year bring hoards of crowds and long waits. Knowing the right time to go is crucial.

The best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon is the second half of April or in October, mid-week if possible. You can expect fewer crowds, cheaper lodging, and pleasant temperatures. However, there are 6 factors to consider for which time is best FOR YOU to visit the Grand Canyon including 1) tolerance for crowds, 2) tolerance for unpleasant weather, 3) which area of the Grand Canyon you are visiting, 4) where else you are traveling to, 5) which activities you are wanting to do, and 6) cost.

I’m Cheryl and have visited all 4 areas of the Grand Canyon at different times of the year. My husband and I write travel guides to help people have amazing vacations. We travel around the West 70 days a year. I’m super excited to share with you our very favorite times of year to visit and give you some things to think about to make your Grand Canyon trip perfect for you!

A Quick Lesson On The 4 Areas of the Grand Canyon

Map showing different areas of the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is so big that it is broken into 4 distinct areas. When most people think of the Grand Canyon, they are thinking of the South Rim that is run by the National Park System. It is home to the charming Grand Canyon Village and over 5 million people visit per year!

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is also run by the NPS and is only open mid-May through mid-October because they actually receive quite a bit of snow there!

Page, AZ is home to Horseshoe Bend National Monument as well as Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell. It is run by a mixture of state, federal, and tribal governments.

Grand Canyon West is run by the Hualapai Tribe and is completely on tribal land. It is home to the famous Skywalk.

6 Factors To Consider When Planning Your Visit

1. Tolerance For Unpleasant Weather

We have a little saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” We love to travel in the winter and don’t mind putting spikes on our shoes, wearing thermal underwear, and packing an umbrella. We even spent 4 days in Yellowstone where it was 0° Fahrenheit- without the windchill factor.

While you can dress for cold, there is little that you can do to prepare for high winds and extreme heat which are both very real possibilities at the Grand Canyon.

The North Rim and South Rim’s temperatures actually don’t get too hot along the rim, especially the North Rim. The South Rim temperatures hover in the 80s in the middle of summer. The North Rim stays 10 degrees cooler.

DID YOU KNOW? On average, it’s 20° Fahrenheit hotter at the bottom of the Grand Canyon than it is on the South Rim.

If you are visiting Grand Canyon West or Page, AZ, prepare for some scorching heat! It’s not uncommon for temperatures to average 90-100° Fahrenheit in July and August.

As far as wind goes, mid-February through the beginning of July is when winds are at their peak but they can happen at any time. Because there are no guardrails along much of the Grand Canyon, it is dangerous to view too close to the ledge if you visit on a windy day.

View of Grand Canyon in winter with snow
Desert View Watchtower grand canyon
Desert View Watchtower

2. Tolerance For Crowds

It’s no secret that the busiest months of the year for all 4 areas of the Grand Canyon are May through September. Among some of the most challenging times are holidays within these months including spring break (1st and 2nd weeks of April), Memorial Day, and July 4th.

These types of crowds can lead to having to wait for 2-3 shuttles to board (about a 45-minute wait) or up to a 3-hour wait at Grand Canyon West’s Sky Walk.

We once visited Page, AZ over Labor Day weekend in 2022 and went to both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. We figure that Lower Antelope Canyon had over 1,500 people go through that day. We felt like cattle being herded through and it was miserable. We visited Antelope X in mid-April in 2024 and only had to share the canyon with 300 people. Our experience was completely different. You can read more at How to Visit Antelope Canyon: Complete Guide.

3. Which Area of the Grand Canyon You Are Visiting

As you read above, there are 4 areas to view the Grand Canyon. Their temperatures and crowd patterns differ from one another. Even though the South Rim, Grand Canyon West, and Page, AZ are open year-round, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only open May 15th-October 15th.

Not sure which area of the Grand Canyon to Visit?

Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to the Grand Canyon’s 4 Areas!

View of Grand Canyon
People hiking through water in Zion Narrows
Zion National Park Narrows

4. Where Else You Are Traveling

Unless you are on a trip to Las Vegas and decide to take a day trip to Grand Canyon West, most people usually visit the Grand Canyon as part of a bigger Western road trip.

If you are doing Sedona, AZ or Las Vegas, NV as part of it, you may consider visiting in November or March to avoid the extreme heat of the summer. Even though it’s cooler, it’s a great option if you are looking for fewer crowds, cheaper lodging, and somewhere that is doable in the winter. Keep in mind that it snows at the Grand Canyon!

If your primary purpose is to visit the Grand Canyon as part of a Utah Mighty 5 road trip (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands), some of the warmer months like May or September are great choices. Both Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef are higher elevations and can be a bit cold (and snowy) if you visit from November through March.

5. What You Want To Do

While there are several activites that are open year-round at the Grand Canyon, there are just as many things that are seasonal.

South RimNorth RimGrand Canyon WestPage, AZ
Open Year Round* Grand Canyon Railway
* Vista Canyon Mule Rides
*Shuttles (with adjusted routes)
*Grand Canyon Village (some)
*Hotels (some)
*Restaurants (some)
*Mule Rides
*Bus tours
*Hiking Trails (check back country office for trail conditions)
*Helicopter Tours
*everything is shut down mid-October through mid-May*Restaurants, shuttles, Skywalk, helicopter tours, lodging, stores*Antelope Canyon Tours, Horseshoe Bend, lodging, restaurants, stores, helicopter tours.
Open Seasonally*Ebike Rentals
*River rafting
*Mule rides
*Hiking Trails
*Lodges
*Restaurants
*Stores
*River Rafting*River Rafting
*Lake Powell boat cruises
*Dirt roads to popular trails may not be passable certain times of the year if it’s been raining
*Lake Powell is open year-round but the water doesn’t get comfortable to swim in until June.
View of Grand Canyon

6. Cost

This is fairly obvious, but flights and hotel rooms cost less in the off-season. For example, Bright Angel Lodge (the cheapest in-the-park lodging) averages ~$140 per night during peak season. In November, the cheapest month of the year, the same room costs $62 per night.

The bumper months of March, April, September, and October are just as expensive as the summer the months. The cheapest months to visit the Grand Canyon are November, December, and January with November being the cheapest. Holidays excluded.

The Best and Worst Times to Visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Go in April/May or Sept/October if…Go in June, July, or August if…Go November-March if…
*You enjoy cooler temperatures and are ok with the risk of poor weather*You want access to all hotels, restaurants, and stores being open*You want to avoid crowds
*You want to do some hiking, these are the best months for it*You are interested in biking, river rafting, or other activities*Don’t mind having to wear spikes on shoes and cold weather
*You want access to all hotels, restaurants, stores, and shuttle routes*You want to camp*Want to save some $ on lodging
*Are visiting Utah’s 5 national parks and/or Monument Valley*You are interested in biking, river rafting or other activities*Are traveling to Las Vegas, NV or Sedonal, AZ
*You enjoy fewer crowds*Can afford more expensive lodging*You want to do the Polar Express on the Grand Canyon Railway
*You enjoy ranger-led programs- there are more of these running in the summer*Need all the shuttles running*Are ok with limited shuttles, lodging, restaurant, and shopping options
*Can handle high crowds
Man on back of train-Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Railway
Front view of El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village
El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village
Person walking through tunnel on Bright Angel Trail Grand canyon
Bright Angel Trail

Best Times To Visit

  • 3rd or 4th week of April. Spring break crowds are gone, highs are in the 60s, and everything is open and running.
  • October (avoid the 2nd or 3rd weekends- it’s fall break with more crowds) The South Rim is mostly pine trees so there isn’t a lot of foliage, but the weather is usually delightful, there are fewer crowds, and hotels, restaurants, stores, and activities are still going

Worst Times To Visit

  • Spring Break (1st and 2nd weeks of April). My parents visited during this time in 2024 and said there was no parking, they had to wait up to 45 minutes for shuttles, and when they got on, it was standing room only. I asked the park ranger about this and she confirmed that Spring Break is always a crazy time to visit.
  • Christmas Time. Suprisingly, desert parks in the West get slammed over Christmas break. Even though you are likely dealing with snow, you will still pay a premium for your lodging and have to deal with crowds.
  • Winter In General. Ebiking is one of my favorite things to do at the South Rim and it’s not available in the winter. Even though crowds are at a minimum, I would rather deal with more crowds to have more services available. However, I was once talking to a ranger and he said that February is his favorite time of year at the Grand Canyon. It’s beautiful and peaceful.

Why You Should Visit the South Rim

When people think of the Grand Canyon, most people are thinking about the iconic South Rim. It has the most and best viewpoints, tons of great tourist activities, and the historic Grand Canyon Village. One of the best features of the South Rim is the Rim Trail which covers 14 miles of canyon views with several amazing viewpoints.

GOOD TO KNOW: Dogs are allowed on the Rim Trail. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most dog-friendly national park I’ve ever visited. They even have a kennel at Maswick Lodge.

The BEST of the Grand Canyon: 17 things to do

The Best and Worst Times to Visit The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Best Times To Visit

  • June-September. Because only 12% of the people who visit the Grand Canyon make it to the North Rim, crowds are rarely a problem. Due to the high elevation, temperatures peak in the 70s making it very pleasant weather.

Worst Times To Visit

  • Mid-October through Mid-March. It’s closed due to the harsh winter conditions.
  • March & October. Although most years the North Rim opens on March 15th and closes October 15th, these are approximate dates. Heavy winters can delay opening dates and early snowfalls can close the park down early. If this was my once-in-a-lifetime trip, I wouldn’t risk it.

Why You Should Visit the North Rim

Thinking about the North Rim puts a smile on my face. It is quiet, peaceful, and cool! The Grand Canyon Lodge is one of the best lodges in the NPS system because of the amazing views from the outdoor seating out back. It’s also refreshing to escape the desert heat mid-summer to a higher elevation.

I also love that it’s smaller but still offers some nice hikes and viewpoints. Plus mule rides are available here, just not to the bottom of the Canyon.

Grand Canyon Lodge mule rides
View of Grand Canyon Lodge on rim of Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Lodge
Bright Angel Point

PRO TIP: If you are visiting the Utah Mighty 5, the North Rim is great to visit between Zion and Bryce Canyon. Don’t feel like you need to drive all the way over to the South Rim to get great views.

The Best and Worst Times to Visit Page, Arizona

Go in April/May or Sept/October if…Go in June, July, or August if…Go November-March if…
*You are into hiking*You don’t mind 90-100°F temperatures*You don’t mind temperatures of 40° F and below (March is a little warmer)
*You enjoy more moderate temperatures*You are interested in water sports (Lake Powell and rafting the Colorado)*You want to avoid crowds
*You enjoy fewer crowds (AVOID HOLIDAYS!)*Are willing to pay a premium for lodging*You want cheaper lodging
*You are interested in water sports (Lake Powell and rafting the Colorado)*You can handle crowds*You don’t mind not being able to get in the water

Best Times To Visit

3rd & 4th Week of April. With weather in the 60s & 70s, it’s heavenly. Spring break crowds are gone and river rafting/kayaking adventures have begun. Lodging prices are still low.

2nd or 3rd Week of September. It’s still plenty hot in September (average high of 85° F) but the crowds are beginning to disappear. It’s an especially great time to visit if you want to do water sports at Lake Powell. The water temperatures are still warm and there are fewer boats on the lake.

Worst Times To Visit

Labor Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July. Neither Antelope Canyon (there are several) nor Horseshoe Bend handles the crowds well. They are busy during peak travel months, but these holidays are especially bad… and HOT!!

June, July, and August… if you are into hiking. Page and the surrounding areas offer great adventure hiking, but the extreme heat makes it dangerous. I was once in Page when it was 104 degrees.

horseshoe bend page az
Couple in Antelope Canyon Lower
Antelope Canyon upper

Why You Should Visit Page, AZ

Page, AZ doesn’t have the vast Grand Canyon views of the North and South Rim, but it offers the unique beauty at Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Plus there are great slot canyons to hike through, lots of water recreation at Lake Powell and on the Colorado River, and… of all the Grand Canyon areas, it has the best food!

PRO TIP: Page is in the middle of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Zion National Park. It easily fits into several road trips.

The Best and Worst Times to Vist Grand Canyon West

Go September through April if..Go May through August if…
*You want fewer crowds (avoid weekends and holidays)*You want to raft the river
*You want pleasant temperatures (highs in the 50s, even in the winter!)
*You don’t mind some of the tribal performances not going
*You want shorter lines at the Skywalk and shuttle

Best Times To Visit

Midweek the 3rd and 4th weeks of April We actually visited the 3rd week of April and the security guard told us this was the very best time! No lines at the Skywalk (average wait is 1 1/2 hours) and it was 60° F.

Midweek October & November (no holidays) I haven’t been at these times but I can imagine these would be similar to April. Be careful to avoid fall break often the 2nd and 3rd weeks in October.

Worst Times To Visit

May through August– Grand Canyon West is relatively small in land mass but receives over 700,000 visitors a year. That can make for large crowds and long waits. Every day, hundreds of visitors arrive to Grand Canyon West from Las Vegas, via tour bus.

Holidays and weekends- Grand Canyon West is open 365 days a year. It is not uncommon for lines for the Skywalk to reach lengths of 3.5 hours on big holidays.

Couple standing in front of Eagle Point at Grand Canyon West
Guano Point Grand Canyon West
View of Eagle point at Grand Canyon West
Eagle Point
Couple on Skywalk at Grand Canyon West

Why You Should Visit Grand Canyon West

Although Grand Canyon West is my least favorite part of the Grand Canyon to visit, it’s still great. The Hualapai do a great job caring for the canyon and keeping operations running smoothly. I think it’s a wonderful option for people who are visiting Las Vegas, NV who just need to get out of the city or may not have the opportunity to visit other areas of the Grand Canyon.

FAVORITE SPOT AT GRAND CANYON WEST: Even though the Skywalk, the glass-bottomed bridge that extends from the canyon wall, is what most people visit for, I prefer Guano Point. It has 360° views of the Grand Canyon and is home to the remains of a tram that used to go to the bottom of the canyon.

If I Had to Choose One Time of Year and One Area to Visit the Grand Canyon

I would visit the South Rim the 3rd week in April. The South Rim offers the best viewpoints, hikes, walking trail, activities, and transportation system. Sure it’s more crowded than the North Rim, but I love the Grand Canyon Village, riding an eBike along the rim, and taking the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, AZ.

But of course, the best time of year to visit varies on your personal travel style. Always consider:

  • Your tolerance for unpleasant temperatures
  • Your tolerance for crowds
  • Which area of the Grand Canyon you are visiting
  • Other locations you are visiting on your trip
  • What you want to do
  • Cost

Is There Anything Else to Know?

The Grand Canyon is incredible! Need a game plan so you don’t miss out on the best things to do? Check out our itinerary.

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid the crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!

Not only that, but we’ll tell you about the park while you drive with our audio guide!  Stop planning and start having the vacation of your dreams now!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO THE
GRAND CANYON

GRAND CANYON GUIDE: To read or watch all of our content about the Grand Canyon, Check out our Grand Canyon Homepage

AREAS: The Grand Canyon is divided into 4 areas: The South Rim, North Rim, Grand Canyon West, and the East Side of the Grand Canyon (Page, AZ). Learn about the 4 areas of the Grand Canyon with our Free Printable.

THINGS TO DO: There is much more to do than hike and look at viewpoints.  Explore Antelope Canyon or ride a mule.

WHERE TO STAY: Learn all about where to camp or stay when visiting the Grand Canyon.

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat and get groceries at the South Rim

WATCH: Enjoy videos of the beautiful Grand Canyon while learning our best tips by watching our Grand Canyon YouTube Playlist

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