One of the most common questions when planning a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon is when is the best time to hike the Grand Canyon?
Which makes sense, since the Grand Canyon National Park is open year-round for hiking leaving many beginning hikers and even some experienced hikers wondering when is the best time to hike the Grand Canyon.
To help answer this question we have drawn from a ton of experience and compiled loads of information on the best times to hike the Grand Canyon ensuring you pick the best time that best fits your needs, situation, and hiking abilities.
While each time of the year has its pros and cons when hiking at the Grand Canyon, some of the best months for hiking in and around the Grand Canyon are April and May as well as late September and October. This is because spring and fall at the Grand Canyon tend to have more moderate temperatures for hiking allowing you to avoid the extreme heat of the summer and most of the frigid weather of the winter. Also, the hiking trails in spring and fall tend to be less crowded compared to the busy summer months allowing for a more peaceful and relaxing hiking experience.
When to Hike the Grand Canyon
Now that we know the best times of the year to hike the Grand Canyon lets dive deeper into what you can expect depending on when you choose to hike the Grand Canyon as well as some other things to keep in mind when trying to choose the best time of year to hike the Grand Canyon.
Hiking the Grand Canyon During Spring
As mentioned above springtime can be one of the best times of the year for hiking in and around the Grand Canyon thanks to its cooler temperatures and less crowded hiking trails.
Also, if you choose to hike the Grand Canyon during springtime you can also look forward to wildflower blooms which peak in March and April providing a stunning and vibrant pop of color against the arid desert landscape.
In addition, if your hiking in the early spring before heavy tourist season it also means that hotels and accommodations around and in Grand Canyon National Park can be easier and cheaper to book compared to the busy summer months.
There are a few potential negatives to be aware of if you choose to hike the Grand Canyon in the springtime though with the first being that while the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon closes for the winter months due to snow and usually does not reopen until mid-May. So if you are wanting to visit the North Rim or hike from rim to rim this will more than likely not be possible during the springtime.
Also, speaking of snow if you choose to hike the Grand Canyon in the springtime remember that while daytime temperatures can reach into the 60s, mornings and evenings can still be quite cold with temperatures that can dip into the 20s. So make sure you are prepared for all types of weather and dress in layers if you are going to hike in the springtime at the Grand Canyon.
Hiking the Grand Canyon During Summer
While the summer months at the Grand Canyon are the busiest thanks to the warm weather and amazing views. Visiting the Grand Canyon during the summer and hiking the Grand Canyon during the summer are two very different things especially if you plan to hike down into the canyon.
If you choose to hike the Grand Canyon during the summer, it’s important to remember that the summer months can be some of the most unforgiving and dangerous times for hiking at the canyon. Due to the punishing and relentless sun as well as the extreme temperatures, with inner canyon temps routinely reaching well over 100° Fahrenheit.
These kinds of extreme conditions and temperatures can quickly lead to exhaustion, overheating, and dehydration while hiking. Causing your hike to quickly become dangerous and even life-threatening if you’re underprepared and don’t know what you’re doing. Which is why it’s not a bad idea and many people choose to hike with a guide when hiking the Grand Canyon.
However, if you don’t mind the crowds and looking for an extreme hiking challenge, hiking the Grand Canyon during the summer can be one of the most rewarding times to hike the Grand Canyon, thanks to the long days, high level of difficulty, and sense of satisfaction.
Hiking the Grand Canyon During Fall
Just like spring, fall can be one of the best times of the year to hike in or around the Grand Canyon thanks to it’s cooler and more moderate temperatures when hiking. In addition, the crowds start to subside from the peak summer months the later into fall you choose to hike the canyon, providing more enjoyable, empty, and quiet hiking trails.
Also, while fall colors and changing leaves are not what the Grand Canyon is celebrated for, the Grand Canyon actually does offers some amazing and brilliant fall foilage especially while driving to and around the canyon.
It’s not all good news though if you choose to hike the Grand Canyon during fall as there are some negatives to keep in mind as well.
The first being as with spring while the daytime temperatures can be quite warm easily reaching into the 50s and 60s with the sun out, the morning and evening temperatures can be quite chilly. So it’s important to wear several layers of clothing when hiking the Grand Canyon in the fall. So that you can stay warm in the chilly mornings and shed layers as the temperature starts to rise throughout the day.
Also the later into fall you choose to hike the Grand Canyon the greater chance you have of running into early snow which can limit access to the North Rim which closes for the winter. So if you plan on hiking rim to rim or vising the North Rim for some fall hiking make sure you check with the Grand Canyon National Park Service to ensure it’s open and operational.
Hiking the Grand Canyon During Winter
While winter is not the best time of the year for hiking at the Grand Canyon. Hiking the Grand Canyon during the winter months is however one of the best-kept secrets for those in the know, and for many hikers is actually their favorite time of the year to hike the Grand Canyon.
The reason for this is that once you get past and prepare for the cold weather, you pretty much have the whole Grand Canyon and its trails to yourself. As it’s common when hiking in the Grand Canyon during the winter months to be able to hike for miles and not see or even hear another hiking party, which would be impossible during the busy summer months and even during the less busy spring and fall season.
Also if you are a photographer, winter can be one of the best times of the year to photograph the Grand Canyon and surrounding landscapes as the sun is lower in the sky.
Just remember if you plan on hiking the Grand Canyon during the winter months, it’s important you have plenty of cold-weather gear as the temperature can drop into the teens at night time and the trails will often be covered with snow and ice.
Average Temperatures By Month at the Grand Canyon
If you’re trying to decide the best time of year to hike the Grand Canyon based on the outside ambient temperature at the canyon. You should find the below table which has the average high as well as the average low for every month of the year at the Grand Canyon at the rim as well as inside the canyon.
|Month||Temperature at the Rim||Temperature in the Canyon|
|January||Avg Hi 44°F / Avg Low 18°F||Avg Hi 58°F / Avg Low 38°F|
|February||Avg Hi 48°F / Avg Low 18°F||Avg Hi 64°F / Avg Low 42°F|
|March||Avg Hi 56°F / Avg Low 22°F||Avg Hi 72°F / Avg Low 47°F|
|April||Avg Hi 61°F / Avg Low 26°F||Avg Hi 82°F / Avg Low 54°F|
|May||Avg Hi 71°F / Avg Low 36°F||Avg Hi 92°F / Avg Low 63°F|
|June||Avg Hi 82°F / Avg Low 43°F||Avg Hi 103°F / Avg Low 72°F|
|July||Avg Hi 85°F / Avg Low 50°F||Avg Hi 106°F / Avg Low 77°F|
|August||Avg Hi 82°F / Avg Low 49°F||Avg Hi 103°F / Avg Low 74°F|
|September||Avg Hi 76°F / Avg Low 43°F||Avg Hi 96°F / Avg Low 69°F|
|October||Avg Hi 65°F / Avg Low 33°F||Avg Hi 83°F / Avg Low 58°F|
|November||Avg Hi 52°F / Avg Low 24°F||Avg Hi 68°F / Avg Low 46°F|
|December||Avg Hi 45°F / Avg Low 18°F||Avg Hi 58°F / Avg Low 38°F|
How to Avoid the Crowds When Hiking at the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular National Parks in the U.S. with roughly 5.9 million people visiting the park each year. And while this might be great for the National Park Service, it’s not ideal for the avid hiker looking for good hiking and empty trails at the Grand Canyon.
There are however several things you can do to avoid the bulk of the crowds while visiting and hiking at the Grand Canyon.
Hike During the Off-Season
Choosing the right time of year to hike in the Grand Canyon can go along way in avoiding the crowds in the park and on the trails. With the summer months being the busiest time of the year for the Grand Canyon receiving around ¾ of all visitors in those peak summer months. So if you want to avoid the crowds when hiking the Grand Canyon choose an off-season time for you hike in either the spring, fall, or winter.
Hike into the Canyon
While the level of difficulty increases significantly when you hike down into the canyon due to large elevation change and increased temperatures. Most of the crowds and the busiest trails are located along and around the rim of the Grand Canyon, especially at the South Rim. So if your up for the challenge and an experienced hiker, hiking on trails that go down into the canyon should be far less busy compared to easier trails that traverse the rim.
Try Out the North Rim
If you only have a day at the Grand Canyon then you should stick to the South Rim as there are far more views and trails on the South Rim compared to the North Rim. If however, you plan on spending at least of few days at the Grand Canyon and looking for fewer people on the trails, consider visiting the North Rim instead of the South Rim as there are substantially fewer visitors on the North Rim. Just remember though that the North Rim closes for the winter so depending on when you plan on hiking in the Grand Canyon the North Rim may or may not be an option.
When Schools in, Hike the Canyon
Most people visit and hike the Grand Canyon on family vacations and when kids are out of school. So if you’re looking for less crowded hiking trails and fewer kids in the park choose a time of year when school is in session.
Choosing the Best Times to Hike the Grand Canyon Based on Hiking Ability
The Grand Canyon is great because there are 54 trails to hike with difficulty levels ranging from easy to extremely difficult. Allowing everyone that wants to participate in hiking while at the Grand Canyon a chance to do so regardless of skill level or athletic ability.
With that being said though even an easy-to-moderate trail can become difficult and challenging depending on the time of year you choose to hike the trail.
The important thing to remember when choosing when to hike the Grand Canyon based on skill level is that the Grand Canyon is located in a hot and arid desert climate that can be very punishing and unforgiving during the summer months with temperatures on the trails routinely reaching over a 100°F in the middle of the day.
And because of this, a trail that can be hiked in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall with relative ease could become a very challenging and difficult hike during the hot summer months.
So if you are just starting out or a beginner hiker, it’s best to either hike the Grand Canyon during the cooler spring and fall months or get an early start on your hike in the summer months in order to avoid the heat of the day.
If you’re looking for even more hiking tips and information on hiking in the Grand Canyon be sure to check out our article “Top 18 Hiking Tips for the Grand Canyon“.