The Grand Canyon is one of the North America’s most incredible attractions, drawing millions of visitors worldwide every year. There’s really no bad time to visit the Grand Canyon, but some times of the year are certainly better than others. Want to know when you should visit? Read on to find out what an expert has to say.
Meet the Expert
Heidi Womble grew up with the Grand Canyon in her backyard. After many trips to hike the canyon or take a river trip through its twisting waters, she eventually became a river guide. Legend has it that she became so skilled that should could descend the canyon barefoot while carrying two packs and reading a book. I asked Heidi what she thinks is the best time to visit the canyon, and she couldn’t pick just one.
Best Time for Backpacking
Late spring or early fall is the best time for backpacking, according to Heidi. This is when the burning heart of Arizona fades to just a warm moderate, and you can enjoy the sun’s rays without getting your energy sapped by the heat. Heidi adds that she sometimes enjoys backpacking the Grand Canyon in the wintertime, “If I’m feeling adventurous and can tough out the cold.” If you’re not familiar with camping in the winter, stick to spring or fall for the most enjoyable conditions. Just don’t try it in summer! It’s advisable to join a group for your first hike so that you can get the most out of your experience and learn how to tackle the Canyon solo.
Best Time for a River Trip
Running the river isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can’t miss out on. You get an entirely different perspective on the Grand Canyon from the bottom, where the majestic canyon walls seem to rise straight up to Heaven’s gates. “If it’s a river trip, right after the monsoons in late summer is good,” Heidi advises. This is because the weather is cool, but the water is still fairly warm. The only drawback is that the normally blue water can turn a brownish color after the storms. If you go in the late spring or early summer, you’ll find cool enough weather, but the water will be rather cold at 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Time for Hiking
If you want to take a trek down the side of the canyon but don’t really want to backpack, any time of the year except for summertime is good. Summer brings high heat, which can lead to health conditions if you don’t take proper precautions. Be careful about hiking after heavy rainfall, too. “Monsoons are gorgeous anywhere,” says Heidi, “But then there’s flash flooding in the side canyons and mud, making it hard to hike.” The most important thing is to stay safe—an admonition to take seriously, as the popular book Death at the Grand Canyon makes clear. When the Grand Canyon is cool and dry in the fall and spring or even winter, you’ll have the most enjoyable and least hazardous experience.
Best Time for Enjoying the Rim
“If you just want to go stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, I think it’s gorgeous year round!” Heidi exclaims. There’s no bad time to gaze out over the vast expanse of the Canyon. In the spring, everything is blooming, giving unexpected brushstrokes of green and color to the Grand Canyon’s red rock panorama. In the fall, the air is crisp and cool, and the leaves at the rim begin to turn. In the winter, a dusting of snow lends a magical look to the landscape. In the summer, the air is warm and the crowds are thin. You can enjoy the relative loneliness of the rim and find quiet places to stand and drink in the sight. “Those are my favorite times,” says Heidi.
Now that you know when to go, don’t hesitate to schedule a trip! The Grand Canyon deserves its place at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a fact that you can only truly appreciate if you see it for yourself. So strap on your hiking shoes, grab a map, and go see one of the most amazing natural beauties on the planet! Happy trails.