Even though many people won’t consider visiting Grand Canyon in January (it’s the cold, right?), it can be a valuable experience. Seeing the snow falling down to the bottom of the Canyon? Being able to take pictures without photobombers? No need to worry about dehydration or heatstroke? All of those sound inviting, right? So, we have come up with a list of reasons why you, in fact, should visit Grand Canyon in winter!
Less Crowds in Winter
This is probably one of the best reasons we can think of. Less crowds! Less people! And there’s snow!
Remember this is a National Park that gets 5+ million visitors a year. When do you think most of them are visiting?
Summer is the busiest time at the South Rim. The number of people is hopping in spring and fall but not like summer, and winter is peaceful and quiet in comparison. You should also consider the temperature in the Canyon. While the South Rim may be quite chilly (but not always), once you’re down into the Canyon the temperatures will moderate and much of the time be perfect for hiking. Lastly, accommodations and permits are much easier to obtain, and even last-minute reservations at Phantom Ranch are commonly available.
Watch the Winter Sunset at the Canyon
You can watch the sunset at Mather Point. This is the most popular sunset spot simply because it’s close to the visitor center and parking lots – but it also has a great view!
Other popular sunset spots include Hopi Point and Yavapai Point.
Whatever you do, just make sure you stick around for a little while after the sun officially dips below the horizon. This is when the winter sky is often painted pretty shades of pink and purple.
Weather in January
The average high at the South Rim in January is 44 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average low is 18 degrees Fahrenheit (high of 6.6 degrees Celsius, low -7.7 degrees Celsius.) However, these temperatures are much warmer inside the Canyon (by 10-20 degrees, but feels even warmer in the sun.) Average days of rain/snow in January is 5.
At Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon, the average high temperature in January is 58 degrees Fahrenheit, and a low of 38 degrees Fahrenheit (14H/3L degrees celsius.)
Cheaper Accommodations in Winter
A major benefit of the Grand Canyon in winter is that staying actually in the national park was possible and not too expensive. You can even get reservations days before your arrival in several of the lodges right in the park, which will not be possible in the warmer months. Usually, you have to book your stay a year before visiting the Canyon.
Now granted, we booked so late we couldn’t get multiple nights in a row and this meant we had to change lodges a few times. However, it was mind-blowing that we could even get reservations right on the rim at short notice.
This meant no long drives from outside the park, no fears about parking and we were able to simply leave our lodge and explore. Little things like that make for a much more relaxing experience.
What To Do at Grand Canyon in Winter
When the weather is cold and it’s snowing, you might be wondering what you can do at the Canyon. There are plenty of great things to do in the Canyon in January; in fact, most of the activities available any other time of year are yours to choose from. Certainly, a hike on the South Kaibab or Bright Angel Trail is very much worth doing, but be sure to have hiking crampons for the icy trails (it’s not advisable to hike particularly Grandview, New Hance and Tanner Trails in winter unless you’re with a guide company or are experienced.)
Helicopter or airplane tours, van tours, and – if roads are clear – bicycle tours are great activities (read about Grand Canyon’s best tours for links to recommended companies.) Checking out things like the Yavapai Geology Museum and the Kolb Studio is very much worth doing if the outside weather is unagreeable.
Finally, having dinner at famous and historic El Tovar is a must-do activity in Grand Canyon, and reservations will be much easier to get in January than many months.
So, do you feel like visiting the Canyon in January? Then what are you waiting for? Plan and Book Your Trip with Sweetours today!
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sources: angelsgatetours, ytravelblog.comm, wildlandtrekking.com, dangerous-business.com, walkmyworld.com