What's the best time to visit the Grand Canyon?
Wondering the best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park? See the ideal time of year to plan your visit to this vast, awe-inspiring natural formation in Nevada.
Whether you’re planning your trip for great weather, cheaper prices, or smaller crowds, we’ve got you covered with this quick travel guide.
Overall Best Time to Visit Grand Canyon National Park
The overall best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is from April to June. This is the period with the best weather (warm, not stifling hot) and allows you to experience the park before peak summer crowds and higher prices hit.
From April to June, the Grand Canyon receives very little rainfall — just 1-3 days of rainfall per month on average. This late spring/early summer shoulder season sees fewer visitors than the peak of summer (July and August), and it’s also a lot more comfortable for hiking and camping.
You’ll catch beautiful desert wildflowers in bloom by visiting in late spring. In April, expect low 60s temperatures with May reaching the low 70s and June hitting the low 80s.
With fewer visitors than the peak summer season, prices on lodging and activities around the park take a little dip before things rev up in July.
The entry fee for the park is always the same ($35/vehicle, $30/motorcycle, or $20/individual), but you can plan your visit in mid-April to take advantage of the fee-free day that kicks off National Parks Week!
Summer as a whole (May through August) is the peak season for the Grand Canyon, so it gets pretty crowded as you enter the middle of the summer season.
If you can plan your trip early in the summer season or in late spring, you’ll avoid the biggest crowds, take advantage of slightly lower prices, and enjoy warm (not stifling) weather.
- April-June is the overall best time to visit Grand Canyon
- Enjoy slightly lower prices and beat peak summer crowds
- Comfortable highs from low 60s to low 80s
Cheapest Time to Visit Grand Canyon National Park
The cheapest time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is from November through February. It’s definitely not the most popular time to visit, but that’s one of the reasons you can score amazing deals on flights, lodging, activities, and packages at this time of year!
When it’s most crowded at the Grand Canyon (summer), prices rise as hotels, flights, tours, and activities stay booked up. But in winter, when the steady flow of summer and fall visitors has slowed to a trickle, those prices take a nosedive.
This is the perfect opportunity to do a trip to the Grand Canyon on a shoestring budget. Expect highs in the mid-40s (December and January) to the upper 40s and low 50s (November and February) at this time of year.
Lows get awfully chilly, down to the upper teens and low 20s at night. This could make camping less comfortable, but if you’re planning on taking advantage of super-cheap lodging anyway, that won’t be a concern.
Entry fees are the same year-round ($35/vehicle, $30/motorcycle, or $20/individual), but you’ll have the chance to score free entry on one of the 2 fee-free days during winter.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Veteran’s Day, you’ll pay a grand total of $0 to enter the park! If a cheap trip is your goal, these dates are worth taking note of.
- November-February is the cheapest time to visit
- Prices dip on flights, lodging, and activities during winter
- Take advantage of 2 fee-free days in Nov. and Jan.
Least Busy Time to Visit Grand Canyon National Park
The least busy time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is September-November and December-February. These periods take advantage of the low visitor numbers in fall and winter to give you a more peaceful experience at the park.
Right after the peak summer season, visitors decrease dramatically in September, October, and November. The kids are back in school after the summer break, temperatures are dropping within the park (low 50s-upper 70s), and seasonal closures begin to take effect.
These factor into the lower visitor numbers at this time of year, but it won’t make the park any less enjoyable for you! It’s a lot more calm and empty at the Grand Canyon in winter.
In December, January, and February, the number of visitors to Grand Canyon National Park is even lower than in the fall. Temperatures drop further (highs in the mid-40s and lows in the upper teens), shuttles stop running, the entire North Rim area and related services are closed, and some in-park lodging is closed for the winter.
But South Rim trails are open year-round, many lodging spots are open with lots of vacancies (and cheaper rates), and many tours and activities on the South Rim still happen on a limited basis.
You can take mule trips down into the canyon, enjoy seeing the Grand Canyon in snow, and benefit from cooler temperatures and less-intense sun that’s less likely to leave you with a sunburn after a long hike.
- September-November and December-February see fewer tourists
- Temperatures, tourists, and prices drop during these periods
- Some trails, lodging, and park services are closed
Worst Time to Visit Grand Canyon National Park
The worst time to visit the Grand Canyon is in the middle of summer, from July to August. The weather is pretty hot and can get wet during this time (82F-85F with the most rainfall of the year).
It’s not a ton of rain — after all, we’re talking about the desert here — but there are an average of 5-6 rainy days per month.
Compare that to the slightly cooler and less-crowded May and June, which receive 1-2 days of rain on average. On the bright side, everything’s open and in full swing at this time of year (including the North Rim, all services and shuttles, and more available slots for tours and activities).
You’ll just have to slog through a lot of heat, possible sunburns, and crowded trails while jockeying for clear views of the canyon.
- July and August are the worst months to visit
- Hot weather, more rain, and intense sunrays
- Peak summer season with biggest crowds
Things to Consider
Now that you know the best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park for ideal weather, prices, and smaller crowds, let’s talk about the things you might not think about while planning.
These are the travel tips every Grand Canyon visitor needs to see before they book a trip and head to the great gorge!
- Know about park entry fees and fee-free days. Grand Canyon National Park charges $35/vehicle, $30/motorcycle, or $20/individual for entry, year-round. There are 5 annual fee-free days when it’s totally free to enter the park. Learn more about fees and fee-free days here.
- Pay attention to seasonal closures. From mid-October to mid-May, the entire North Rim of the park shuts down for the season as temperatures drop and snow begins to fall on the colder side of the canyon. South Rim shuttle services stop running at the end of May, bicycle rentals close up shop at the end of October, and you may run into some lodging, restaurants, and visitor centers that close during the winter. Plan your trip around the services and openings you don’t want to miss!
- Temperatures fluctuate a lot. While there are good guidelines in terms of average highs and lows, temperatures in the Grand Canyon shift a lot by the season, area, and elevation you’re in. It’s much colder on the North Rim side, where the elevation is higher, and temperatures can drop quickly as the sun sets in the canyon. If you plan to hike overnight or camp — even in summer — bring lots of layers and blankets to keep warm as temps drop overnight.
- Use the free shuttle service. Trans-Canyon shuttles transport you between the South Rim and North Rim at no charge. There are 4 South Rim shuttles (also free) to cart you around to different trailheads and overlook areas so you can access the best views. Shuttles can take you where private vehicles aren’t permitted to go, and it’s a great way to get around the park without losing your parking spot.
- Decide where you want to enter the park. You can enter GCNP from the North Rim or South Rim, but the South Rim is much more popular. It’s easier to access and open year-round, while the North Rim closes to traffic from mid-October to mid-May. You might want to enter at the North Rim entrance to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic in the peak summer season.
- Consider taking the train into the park. If you’d rather relax and take a train into the park, the Grand Canyon Railway offers round-trip rides into the park (and lodging packages) from nearby Williams, AZ. Park your car at the depot, ride into the park, and the train will bring you back to your car. This is a great way to avoid the hectic summer traffic into the park! Learn more here.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Grand Canyon?
Overall, the best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is sometime between April and June. It’s nice and cool in April, progressively warming up to the low 80s by June. Visitor numbers are picking up, but it’s not yet the height of peak summer season.
Armed with all the info you need on the best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park, it’s time to start planning your trip! Check out the guides below to learn more about visiting Arizona or another awe-inspiring national park.