Tag Archive for: grand canyon winter hikes

Seasonal Grand Canyon: Why You Should Visit Grand Canyon in Winter

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

Watch the sunset at Grand Canyon in winter from Mather Point.
You’ll definitely want to catch a winter sunset at the Grand Canyon. Days are shorter during this season, so you can easily catch the sunset and then go have dinner.

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!

Contact us for further information
Phone: 702.456.9200
Fax – 702.434.7163
Email – info@sweetours.com

sources: angelsgatetours, ytravelblog.comm, wildlandtrekking.com, dangerous-business.com, walkmyworld.com

winter hiking tips from sweetours grand canyon

Winter Hiking Safety Tips at Grand Canyon

While most visitors to the Grand Canyon experience its beauty in the spring, summer and fall, winter is still a great time to visit – mild temperatures in the inner canyon for the Grand Canyon hiker, fewer people, and the scenery is still amazing, especially when the rim is dusted with snow. It’s obvious that a winter hike in Grand Canyon is much different than a summer hike, and there are few things you need to know to help make your hike an enjoyable and safe one. Your clothing, food, and shelter are all critical elements that can make or break your hike.

To help you on your hike into the canyon, here are some tips for a safe and enjoyable Grand Canyon hiking trip, during the winter or whenever.

Clothing: Light but functional

Let’s start with clothing. Temperature and weather conditions can vary dramatically from the rim to the river. You are dropping nearly a mile in elevation as you trek down the trails. The difference between the temperature on the rim and at the Colorado River can range as much as thirty degrees. So on the rim, you may start with a thick fleece jacket, a parka, long underwear, a hat and gloves, but by the time you are halfway down the trail, you may be comfortable in just pants and a shirt. The lightweight and waterproof material is the key to ideal clothing. Although functional clothing has its price, the investment is well worth it.

The fiber content of your clothing is extremely important. You do not want to wear cotton. Once cotton gets wet, it takes a long time, which cools down the body temperature. Hypothermia is a very real threat during a Grand Canyon winter. Go with synthetic fabrics since they do not absorb water and dry quickly.

The right footwear is important

Before you start your hike, you need to purchase optimal footwear. Ill-fitting shoes can cause pain, blisters and a bad mood. Find a specialty store with a great selection and let the trained staff advise you. A hiking shoe for the winter should be waterproof with outer leather and breathable lining. The shoes should be as light as possible and not add unnecessary weight to your feet.

Another important item to have along are instep crampons, Kahtoola Microspikes or Yaktrax Traction devices. The trails at the Canyon can be covered with slick ice for the first mile or two or even more. It is treacherous and scary to be slipping and sliding while walking on the edges of cliffs!

However, the use of snow traction devices as those mentioned above, will allow you to actually enjoy hiking on the icy trail. No kidding! The Canyon Village Marketplace in the Village also sells instep crampons very at very reasonable prices. Check for availability to make sure they have them in stock. Their phone number is (928) 638-2262; ask for the camping department.

Hiking sticks are also very useful when hiking in mud and ice. In fact, hiking sticks can be some of the most useful items you can take with you on your hike! Read my Walking Sticks & Trekking Poles for all the benefits of their use.

Go on a guided hiking or backpacking tour

You don’t even have to read the rest of this article if you hire a guide – he or she knows the trails, knows how to stay safe, will be sure you are safe, is prepared before you even show up, and can even teach you a thing or two about the Canyon’s history, flora, fauna and geology. Most guide services will also supply the gear you need, so no worrying about being underprepared or forgetting the essentials.

Don’t underestimate the Grand Canyon or overestimate your abilities

Hiking the Grand Canyon is like nothing else in most of the rest of the world. There is a different dynamic in hiking down first, then up. If your knees and ankles don’t feel the strain of constant gravitational pull down the steep trails, you may unintentionally hike too far, forgetting that the hike out is strenuous. Give yourself twice as much time to hike out than it takes to hike in. If you hike out in is less time than expected – good job! – now take in the sites from the rim and enjoy the rest of your day worry and relatively pain-free. If you are a generally sedentary person, stick with hiking along the rim.

Eat and drink

Yes, it is cooler this time of year, but the desert is very arid and you will lose fluids quickly so be sure to drink water often. Also, eat! When hiking, you can and should take plenty of snack breaks. It is best to replace electrolytes with food rather than through electrolyte replacements such as Gatorade. Take these items as a quick fix, not as a replacement. The calories in food also warm you up as your body burns them, so even if you don’t feel hungry, the fuel will warm you up!

Follow trail etiquette for a safe and fun hike

Aside from many other hikers, especially on the main trails – South Kaibab and Bright Angel – there are also mules on the trails carrying gear and people. When you are approached by a mule going uphill or downhill, always move as far off the trail as possible to the inside of the canyon (by the wall of the canyon, not by the exposed area) to allow them to pass. Failure to move over can put you in a battle between mule and human – mule will win and human will likely be at the bottom of the canyon at record speeds. If you are unsure, listen to and follow the trail boss for instructions. When you approach other hikers, it is an unwritten rule to always yield to hikers going uphill. Uphill hikers are slower but are also moving steady and once you are hiking uphill, you will too find that stopping for the energetic downhill speedster makes it much more challenging to keep going (unless you need to take a breather anyway). You will find slow and steady is much better than fast with numerous stops. And for those of you going downhill, the hiker hiking uphill will be looking down most of the hike and likely wearing a brimmed hat. These two factors make it very likely that they will not see you barreling down the trail. In the case of ice and snow – slipping down the trail – so intentional, slower speed is better anyway.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan and Book Your Trip with Sweetours!

Contact us for further information
Phone: 702.456.9200
Fax – 702.434.7163
Email – info@sweetours.com

sources: explorethecanyon.com, hitthetrail.com, justroughinit.com