If you’ve only experienced the South Rim of the Grand Canyon during the warmer seasons, a wintertime trip will open your eyes to a whole new side of this natural wonder. Here are a few of the advantages of making the trip up from Pine Canyon for an offseason adventure:
- At the risk of stating the obvious, the crowds are far smaller and the overall environment is simply more peaceful and laid back. You won’t endure traffic jams on the trails, and it’s easier to make restaurant and lodging reservations. If you’re interested in backcountry permits, those are easier to get too.
- Sure, it’s chilly, with daytime highs generally in the 30s or 40s – but those cooler temperatures also make it a more pleasant hike down to popular sites such as Phantom Ranch compared to the blistering heat of summer.
- Clearer air and a sun that’s lower in the sky brings out the richness of colors within the canyon’s walls and creates beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Add in the clouds from passing storms, a bit of snow on the ground, some wildlife…and it’s a photographer’s dream!
- There’s less road traffic – and here’s an insider’s secret for you: From now through February 29 (weather permitting), some of the shuttle bus roads permit private vehicles. Hermit Road is arguably the most popular, taking you on a scenic route from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest, with nine scenic overlooks along the way, including Hopi Point.
Winter hiking requires an extra measure of attention to the gear you wear and bring with you. Layer up so that you’re comfortable no matter what Mother Nature throws your way, and the National Park Service cautions to watch for icy patches and allow extra time on the trails. If you’re hiking into the canyon, foot traction devices and trekking poles are recommended. And even though it’s cold, bring plenty of water and snacks for energy.