Travel Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon in December with Fewer Crowds!

Why you should visit Grand Canyon in December with a lot fewer crowds!

15 Tips and Things to do in the Grand Canyon in December

The Grand Canyon in December is a surprisingly fantastic time of year to take a trip to the
Grand Canyon.

best views grand canyon south rim

The blanket of snow across the canyons, the crisp temperatures and the low tourist numbers brings a unique experience to the Grand Canyon and offers another beautiful look at the magnificent canyons below. 

Keep reading to check out these Grand Canyon in December reviews and what to do in the Grand Canyon in December.  This is everything you need to plan your Grand Canyon visit in December.

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To visit any of the National Parks in the USA, I recommend buying a National Park Pass. The America the Beautiful Pass is valid for one year and costs $80. Plus 10% of sale proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.

Is the Grand Canyon open in December?

The Grand Canyon National Park remains open for year-round visitors.   During winter months the north rim is closed, due to safety concerns and bad roads. 

The South Rim is open year round and there are many beautiful Grand Canyon Lookout Points.  Grand Canyon south rim in December is completely different and you can experience snow at the Grand Canyon.

grand canyon south rim best views

How busy is the Grand Canyon in December?

The more popular South Rim remains open year-round. Due to the wintery conditions, the tourism rate at the Grand Canyon remains at its lowest during these months.

This makes it a perfect time to visit the national park if you don’t want to be surrounded by too many tourists. The low tourist numbers also allow winter visitors to experience more of the tranquility that the canyons have to offer.

Is it good time to visit Grand Canyon in winter?

There is never a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon. Winter in the Grand Canyon is a great time to visit with less crowds, clear skies and cooler weather. 

I think the key to visiting in the winter is to have good shoes.  You cannot just wear trainers as the snow will melt and get in your shoes.  Waterproof shoes are a must!

Grand Canyon in December

Does it snow in the Grand Canyon in December?

Yes, the Grand Canyon sees snow during these months and the days appear shorter, the weather remains beautiful.

The blankets of snow are contrasted with clear sunny skies and crisp air providing great conditions to get out and experience the beautiful views of the sweeping canyons and Grand Canyon with snow.

Is Christmas a good time to visit the Grand Canyon?

Yes, Christmas is a great time to visit the Grand Canyon.  There are no crowds at the Grand Canyon during Christmas.  You can take your time driving around the park without the traffic and you can take your time taking photos at the lookout points.

Grand Canyon in Winter

Visiting grand canyon in December is a great time to go hiking the Grand Canyon in December.

Things to do at the Grand Canyon in the Winter

1. Visit the Visitors Centre to find out the conditions.

Located just inside the south entrance station at the south rim, the visitors center is open from 9am-4pm during these winter months.

At the visitors center you will be informed of the weather conditions of that day, finding out if it is safe to hike some trails, if some trails are closed off and what viewpoints are safest to visit.

Also, at the visitor center, there is a short film all about the park that takes visitors through a visual experience which is worth a watch to learn more about the Grand Canyon.

Just a short 5-minute walk from the visitor center is the Mathers Point viewpoint. This is often the number one choice for many visitors, particularly during the winter due to the close proximity to the carparks and the visitor center.

To get to the viewpoint does not require much effort nor is it time consuming, making it an easy spot to see the canyon if you don’t want to tread in the wintery conditions.

2. Take a Shuttle if its snowy and you don’t want to drive.

If it’s snowy it is best recommended to take a shuttle bus to the viewpoints rather than driving yourself.  It is safe to drive if the roads are clear, however, unless fully experienced and confident with driving on snowy roads – the
shuttles are the best and safest choice.

things to see at grand canyon south rim

The Grand Canyon offers two shuttle bus routes to see the best of the canyon, although the orange route (Kaibab Rim) is arguably the best for free transport to the best spots. Beginning at the visitors center, the orange route shuttle bus leaves every 30 minutes.

During the route, the bus takes visitors to 5 major viewpoints offering beautiful scenery of the canyons. These viewpoints include, Mathers Point, Yavapai Geology Museum, South Kaibab Trailhead, Yaki Point and Pipe Creek Vista.

3. Drive to Hopi Point, if not snowy and you want to drive

One of the must visit spots along the west rim of the canyon, is located on Hermits Road, Hopi Point! Located about half way down the 7-mile road lies arguably one of the greatest lookouts of the canyon.

Hermit’s road is only open to private vehicles during the winter months, making it a perfect time to plan your trip out there.

Hopi Points is one the most popular viewpoints along the west rim due to the stunning panoramic views of the Colorado River, the Dana Butte, and the sweeping canyons.

Hopi Point is also voted as being one of the best places to see the sunrise and sunset due to the wide vistas.

If, however, it is snowy and the roads a deemed unsafe for private vehicles, the park does offer shuttle buses along the Hermit road which takes you to Hopi Point. Ensuring that no matter the weather you get a chance to see this
beautiful view.

4. Take a Short hike in the Grand Canyon

Take a hike to Shoshone Point

The trail begins along the Desert View Drive at a discrete gate. The trail in its entirety is only 1.7 miles, making it a short and easy hike to do during the winter months.

The trail is along a dirt road and only has a slight almost unnoticeable upwards incline along the way. The end of the trail offers magnificent panoramic views of the beautiful canyons below and due to the privacy of this trail, almost always offers a tranquil and calming experience in nature.

Take a hike to Ooh Aah Point

Located about 0.9-miles down the South Kaibab Trail is a beautiful viewpoint and great end to short winter hike. Although the hike is short it isn’t necessarily easy.

The hike down to Ooh Aah Point is relatively downhill, therefore coming back up takes approximately double the time. Therefore, in conditions where it isn’t raining or snowing too much it could be a fantastic hike for those who want a small challenge along with a great view along the way.

Check out my post on the best hikes in the Grand Canyon

5. Drive the Hermits Rest Scenic Drive.

Hermit Road located at the west end of the south rim is a popular 7-mile route that takes you along many scenic viewpoints before finishing at Hermits rest.

Hermit’s Rest Grand Canyon in March

There are shuttle buses provided by the Grand Canyon on offer along this route.

However, the winter months are the only months in which this road is open to private vehicles. Therefore, assuming safe driving and road conditions, it’s a great opportunity to be able to take yourself out to the many viewpoints along this route.

Along this route, there are some of the best views that the canyon has to offer, including the views from Hopi Point, Mohave Point and Pima Point.

6. Rim Trail – Visitors Centre to Village

A nice and easy 2.5-mile trail from the visitor’s centre to the Grand Canyon
Village. The paths are paved and mostly flat, making it perfect for those who
want to see the beauty of the canyons while remaining on flat grounds.

grand canyon best hikes

Along the trail, there are many viewpoints that bring in a different piece of beauty to
your experience at the canyon. This trail is also perfect for those who love
walking as it’s generally easy and can be compared to a walk in the park –
with added bonuses of the canyon views!

7. Tusayan Museum and Ruin

The Tusayan Museum and Ruin located just 3-miles west of Desert View Point, is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Arizona.

Wiki Commons Grand Canyon National Park

The Ruin itself contains the remains of a Pueblo Village that is believed to be over 800-years old. The Museum is located nearby the Ruins and contains many exhibits designed give visitors a greater understanding into the unique history of the canyon.

Visiting the museum and learning about the 12,000+ years of rich archaeological history sounds like a great way to spend a crisp winter day.

8. See the wildlife in the park

Many animals in this area have developed a tolerance and adaptation to the colder temperature. So, during the winter months many more animals can be seen out foraging along the trails and forests. Mule deer, rock squirrels, elk and ravens are all popular sights among the canyons during these colder months.

grand canyon best views

9. Catch the Sunset at one of these points

There are many places along the Grand Canyon ranked as great places to view the sunset. Two of the best places to sit and enjoy the sunset on a crisp winter’s evening are arguably Hopi Point and Yavapai Point.

Hopi Point is one of the most popular places along the south rim to view both the sunrise and sunset. This is largely due to the incredible panoramic views of the canyon that is seen from this point. Making any sunrise or sunset truly

Visiting the Grand Canyon during the winter months has its added bonus of getting to watch the sunset from the best spot without having it being overpopulated by visitors. Making the experience just a bit more exciting.

Yavapai Point is yet another great and popular spot to see the sunset at the Grand Canyon. Just a short walk from the visitor center is Yavapai Point, a viewpoint with truly magnificent views of the canyons and a great spot to view the sunset.

Check out my post on the Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints in the South Rim or the North Rim Look Out Points.

Where to stay near the Grand Canyon

Tusayan is the nearest city to the Grand Canyon.  The population city of Tusayan is only 550.  The city is located along Highway 180 about 70 miles from Flagstaff.

Grand Canyon viewpoints

You will find shops and restaurants there, the Grand Canyon IMAX, and the Grand Canyon Airport is about one mile south of town.

Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments

Views of the valleys and forest areas are featured in select Arizona apartments. Grand Canyon South Rim Entrance is 5 minutes’ drive.

Studios feature a kitchenette and apartments offer a fully equipped kitchen at Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments. A balcony is provided in each unit.

JJK’s Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Studio and Apartments Canyon Plaza Premier.

Check out Rates on Booking

Arizona Luxury Expeditions – Grand Canyon

Arizona Luxury Expeditions has tents where you can glamp overnight.  This is part of their ll inclusive and customized to include 12’x12′ Expedition Tents, all meals freshly prepared daily, and a professional Tour Guide for your stay with us.

The weather at the Grand Canyon during Dec. averages 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit daytime and 20’s degree at nighttime. They provide heaters for inside your sleeping and the private dining tents with plenty of warm heavy wool blankets.  Most guests enjoy this time of the year in the Grand Canyon because of less crowds of people and the winter landscape that is incredible to experience.

Check out Rates on Booking

Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn

Located right next to the Holiday Inn Express, the Best Western has 250 rooms.  The Best Western has an indoor heated pool, a hot tub, sauna, and fitness center.

There is also two restaurants in the hotel – Coronado Room and the Canyon Room.  If you are looking for fast food you can find the McDonalds and Pizza Hut are close.

Check out Rates on Booking

Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon

The Holiday Inn Express is located just two miles from the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon.  The Holiday Inn Express has 164 rooms and is located centrally in Tusayan which means you can walk to the restaurants and shops.

The Holiday Inn Express has an indoor pool, a whirlpool, and a continental breakfast is included.

Check out Rates on Booking

The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

The hotel offers 5-star accommodation with a hot tub.  All units are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a microwave, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. Guest rooms include a wardrobe.

Featuring a restaurant, bar, shared lounge and free WiFi, The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon is located in Tusayan, 10 km from Mather Campground and 12 km from Bright Angel Trail. This 5-star hotel offers a concierge service and a tour desk. The hotel features an indoor pool, fitness centre, evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk.

Check out Rates on Booking

Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel

Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments is a 3 star hotel located 6 miles from the Grand Canyon.

There are only 10 rooms here and each room has a microwave, a refrigerator, and a coffee maker.

There is one restaurant here called JJK’s restaurant.  Close to the hotel is the Plaza Bonita where you can also eat.

Check out Rates on Booking

Conclusion – worth visiting the Grand Canyon in Winter?

The crisp cold weather, the blankets of snow across the canyons, the low
tourism, the foreign animals roaming about and the beautiful sunsets all make
for winter to be a great time to visit the Grand Canyon.

Many parts of the Grand Canyon offer spots of tranquillity and serenity, however, when visiting
in the winter these can be found more frequently and often in many of the most
popular spots of the canyon.

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Grand Canyon in December

Continue Reading More on my website about the Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Trails

American Southwest Obsessed

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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