Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon in the Winter

Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon in the Winter

So, we booked a trip to the Grand Canyon in the winter. And, it wasn’t at all like I thought it would be – but it was still so much fun.

Before I start, I’ll say that my idea of Arizona was totally wrong. Growing up in the midwest, we hear about how all the old people either snowbird to Florida or Arizona – I just always assumed it was hot and dry year-round. Well, I think Southern Arizona may be like that, but not Northern Arizona, aka where all the fun stuff is. I would say the temps were around 30-40 degrees there during the day (and way colder during the night.) It’s windy on the rim, so I was really glad we brought our winter coats. We arrived around 3:30pm which gave us time to check in to the El Tovar and take a nice walk along the rim, ending around sunset time — the most beautiful blush sunset over the canyon! The dining room in our hotel is kinda pricy, so we instead had diner at the pizza pub in another lodge, simple and tasty.

So, the lobby of El Tovar is nice and cozy, but the rooms were so-so, especially for the hefty price tag. Our winter room was $190, but the rooms are upwards of $250 during the summer. You are literally just paying for the proximity of the hotel to the canyon – it’s about 10 feet from the rim. I went back and forth about staying in the park or staying at a much cheaper place outside of it. Since we were only staying a night and wanted to make the most out of the time, we opted to stay at the Tovar, and I’m happy we did because we didn’t have a lot of time to explore before nightfall or the next day, when it was due to rain buckets. If you are visiting the Grand Canyon more than one night, I’d stay outside the park at a cheaper place. The El Tovar really isn’t worth the price tag at that point. 
Grand Canyon in the winterGrand Canyon in the winterGrand Canyon in the winterGrand Canyon in the winter


Sadly, it rained on Monday, the second day of our trip, which kinda halted anything we could have done in the Grand Canyon. We ended up leaving for Sedona earlier than planned. If it didn’t rain, I would have liked to hike a bit in the trail or maybe take a donkey ride. Luckily, we got a great sunset the night before, and regardless, we are totally planning to return during the spring on year and plan a whole trip into the canyon. 

So, if you are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon during the winter, remember these things:

  1. It’s cold. Not Arizona cactus hot. Make sure to bring lots of layers, gloves and coats. 
  2. It’s $30 to get in – your pass is good for 7 days, so you can use it over and over. 
  3. If you are only staying for one night, consider the El Tovar or a hotel within the park along the rim. If you have more time, save a lot of money by staying outside the park.
  4. Remember that many of the trails are closed in the winter. The whole North Rim is closed too. Most things open after March I believe.  If you plan on doing a lot of hiking within the park
  5. I personally think the best time to visit isn’t the dead of summer – the heat!! I loved how empty the park was in during January. The rain did suck, but we couldn’t help that. 

I hope this helps you plan your winter trip to the Grand Canyon! Leave a comment below if you have questions or anything to add!