Visiting Grand Canyon in January with a lot less crowds!

Visiting Grand Canyon in January with a lot less crowds!

Things to do in the Grand Canyon in January

One of the benefits of visiting the Grand Canyon in January is that there are far less crowds than in the summer. 

There are also drawbacks for visiting the Grand Canyon in January as well and we all know that it is the weather and a chance of a snowstorm in January.

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.  

Grand Canyon North Rim

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

Thank you for supporting this website written by an American. This post may contain affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission on these links at no extra cost to you.

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 January?

The Grand Canyon National Park remains open for year-round visitors.  

Grand Canyon in Winter
Grand Canyon Winter Season. Snow in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States.

Although, during the winter months the north rim is closed, due to safety concerns.  The South Rim is open year round and there are many beautiful Grand Canyon Lookout Points.  Grand Canyon south rim in January is completely different and you can experience snow at the Grand Canyon.

How busy is the Grand Canyon in January?

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.

Thus, making winter 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 tranquillity that the canyons have to offer.

Another benefit of going in the winter with less tourists is the fact that booking accommodation will be easy! 

I don’t recommend just showing up though because some places will be closed but check out the list of the best accommodation in Tusayan below.

Grand Canyon in January

Is it a good time to visit Grand Canyon in winter?

There is never a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon. 

As long as you are ready for short days and cooler temperatures and unpredictable weather you will enjoy visiting the Grand Canyon in Winter.

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 sneakers as the snow will melt and get in your shoes.  Waterproof shoes are a must!

Make sure to pack the following if you are planning to visit the Grand Canyon in January:

  • Waterproof shoes
  • Winter Jacket
  • Gloves, Hat, Scarf
  • Thermal Layer, sweater, sweatshirt
  • Shoes with a good grip

Does it snow in the Grand Canyon in January?

Yes, the Grand Canyon sees snow during January and the days are much shorter. 

Grand Canyon in january

Storms in the Grand Canyon in January can dump anywhere from 50-100 inches of snow.

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 the Grand Canyon cold in January?

Yes, it does get cold in the Grand Canyon in January.  January and February are the coldest months. During the day it is in the 40s and 50s but at night it can get well below freezing.

There will be snow and at some point in the month there will be around 10 inches of snow in the village.  Other times it will only have an inch or two of snow.

Things to do at the Grand Canyon in the Winter

You can do all of the same activities in the Grand Canyon in winter that you can do during the warmer months.  Yes, a few trails will be closed due to the icy conditions but as long as you dress warm you will be able to enjoy visiting the Grand Canyon in winter.

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

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

At the visitors centre 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 centre, there is a short film all about the park that takes visitors through a visual experience before jumping into it themselves.

Arizona National Parks

Just a short 5-minute walk from the visitor centre 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 centre.

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 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 centre, 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.

Grand Canyon January

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 are 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

Hiking in the Grand Canyon in winter my seem impossible but I’ve listed a few short hikes that can be done.  Most of the trails will be extremely icy so if you are planning to do any more hiking you will need extra gear for it.

All the Trails are monitored and open most days.  Check with the visitors centre.

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

Grand Canyon January

Located about 0.9-miles down the South Kaibab Trail is a beautiful viewpoint and a great end to a 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.

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

In the summer months, you must take the shuttle as there are too many people at the Grand Canyon and not enough parking spots.  In the winter months, the road is open to private vehicles.

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.

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 to give visitors a greater understanding of 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.

Grand Canyon January

Mule deer, rock squirrels, elk and ravens are all popular sites among the canyons during these colder


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 magical.

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 centre 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.

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

Another benefit of going in the winter with less tourists is the fact that booking accommodation will be easy!  I don’t recommend just showing up though because some places will be closed.

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 January

Continue Reading More on my website about the Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon in December

Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Trails

Best Grand Canyon Viewpoint on the North Rim

15 Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints you won’t want to miss

15 Amazing Arizona Day Trips


Nicole LaBarge

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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