Grand Canyon in May- right before the summer crowds visit the Grand Canyon
Visiting Grand Canyon in May
May is arguably one of the best months of the year to visit the Grand Canyon! Visiting Grand Canyon National Park is great any time of year – just ask any of the 6 million visitors the site sees a year!
The temperature both at the canyon and deep inside the canyon are ideal. Summer is still a month away; therefore, the weather isn’t too hot and can sometimes even still see hints of winter temperatures.
During the month of May, the north rim still remains closed to the public for the first half of the month only leaving the more popular south rim open for visitors year-round.
May is ideal for tourism if wanting to experience the canyon with summer weather but also wanting to avoid the summer crowds.
Although, it is recommended to avoid visiting the canyon during in early May due to the large spring break crowds.
Once the first week is over the canyon appears to be far less crowded. Thus, making it a great time to visit as you’ll be able to experience the tranquillity that the canyons have to offer along with the warm weather.
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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 May?
The Grand Canyon National Park remains open every day for year-round visitors.
The South Rim is open year round and there are many beautiful Grand Canyon Lookout Points. THe Grand Canyon South Rim in May is starting to get hot to visit the Grand Canyon.
During May in the Grand Canyon, the North Rim is closed until the 15th, due to safety concerns from the snow. The North Rim is open from May 15 – October 15.
How busy is the Grand Canyon in May?
In May, winter is over and its starting to feel like summer. It is a popular time at the Grand Canyon. The crowds will start to appear at the Grand Canyon as its a fantastic time to go hiking in the Canyon.
The more popular South Rim remains open year-round but the North Rim does not open until May 15th. You can read more about the South Rim vs the North Rim on my site.
Make sure you have your bookings in place a few months in advance. I don’t recommend just showing up though because some places will be booked out but check out the list of the best accommodation in Tusayan below.
Is it a good time to visit Grand Canyon in Spring?
There is never a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon.
In May, the weather will be warming up, you will be able to do more of the hiking trails, and the days will be getting longer.
Spring in the Grand Canyon is a great time to visit with less crowds, clear skies and cooler weather. Make sure you pack your hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen as you are at 7,000 feet in elevation and that much closer to the sun.
What is the weather in Grand Canyon in May?
Grand Canyon weather in May is incredible. Its very pleasant during the day but just starting to get hot.
During the day it is on average 71 degrees but at night it averages 34 degrees.
Did you know that it is actually much warmer in the Canyon? If you walk down into the Canyon or stay at Phantom Ranch, it averages 82 during the day.
Things to do at the Grand Canyon in the Spring
You can do all of the same activities in the Grand Canyon in spring 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 check with the visitors center you will be able to enjoy visiting the Grand Canyon in spring.
Things to do at the Grand Canyon in May
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 8am-5pm during the spring months.
At the visitor center, you will be informed of the weather conditions of that day. As well as if any hiking trails, viewpoints and activities are closed that day or what the safest and best options are.
At the visitors center, there is also a short 20-minute movie informing visitors about the park, the trails and the history as well as taking them through a visual experience before jumping into it themselves.
Just a short 5-minute walk from the visitor center is the Mathers Point viewpoint. This is often a go-to for many visitors of the park, largely due to the close proximity of the visitor center as well as the beautiful views of the canyon it offers.
Rim Trail from Visitor Centre to the Village
The paved mostly flat trail from the visitor center to the Grand Canyon Village is 2.5-miles and includes some of the best viewpoints along the canyon.
This is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the canyons without exerting themselves too much by hiking through the canyons.
This trail is considered to be generally easy by those who have completed it and is a great way to spend a warm sunny day.
Hike the Rim to Rim Trail
The rim to rim hike through the Grand Canyon is often on many hikers’ bucket lists! The route itself is beautiful and offers majestic views of the canyon that no other single hiking trail could offer.
However, it sure is not an easy route or something that should be taken lightly. The trail is 24-miles long (one way) and to complete in its entirety could take up to a few days to complete.
It is best to begin at the north rim and work your way down to the south. Therefore, the recommended route is to begin walking the North Kaibab Trail then moving on to the Bright Angel Trail.
Beginning on the North Kaibab Trail, walking through the gorgeous scenery of the canyon and experiencing the rich history it has to offer; the route ends at the Bright Angel Campground.
This is where you will have the chance to fully rest and spend a night or two before jumping on to the next adventure – Bright Angel Trail!
In the early morning, begin the experience of hiking up through the Bright Angel Trail, one of the most popular on the south rim. The trail takes you through the inner canyon walls and offers stunning and majestic views along the way.
Once you have reached the end of the Bright Angel Trail, you would have completed the rim-to-rim hiking experience and it would have been a great one at that!
Due to the longevity of each of the two hikes individually, it is recommended that you complete the rim-to-rim over the course of a few days while staying at the multiple campgrounds, that the canyon has on offer.
See the sunrise at Mathers Point or Yavapai Point
Mathers Point is one of the most popular places at the canyon to see the sunrise. Due to the close proximity of the visitor center and large carpark as well as the truly magnificent panoramic views it provides; no wonder Mathers Point is a popular go-to spot for viewing the sunrise.
The only downside to viewing the sunrise here is due to the high popularity, this area is generally crowded with people wanting to see the sunrise so getting a good spot is sometimes difficult.
During May, visitors might want to get there extra early in order to secure a front row seat for the sunrise. Although, the early arrival is well worth it once the sun rises through the canyon hills.
Yavapai Point is another great place for many tourists and visitors to see the sunrise.
Unlike Mathers Point, Yavapai Point generally is not as crowded for sunrise, making it a bit more appealing to those who want a peaceful, tranquil experience while viewing the sunrise. The sunrise here is a must-see when visiting this national park due to the stunning panoramic views the spot offers of the sun rising through the canyons.
Hike down to Plateau Point for fantastic views of the inner canyon
The Plateau Point trail is a 12-mile round trip strenuous and challenging hike. Although, once reached the viewpoint all the hard work is paid off when viewing the spectacular views of the inner canyon.
This trail is the best choice for those who are wanting a challenging day hike with spectacular scenic views all the way through, taking you deep into the canyon without taking you all the way down.
Due to the longevity of the hike, it is highly recommended to get a start before sunrise as otherwise you may be completing the hike in the dark which isn’t ideal.
The Plateau Point Trail begins at the Bright Angel Trailhead on the western side of the Grand Canyon Village. Also due to the serious undertaking of this hike, it is suggested to take a break at every rest stop to rest your self as well as take in the beautiful scenery around you.
Once at the point, enjoy the beautiful inner canyon views and take in the serenity that it offers, due to the challenge of the hike, this is generally free of other tourists and hikers.
Desert View Drive
The Desert View Drive is a 25-mile stretch of road located just one mile west of the Grand Canyon village. The desert view drive offers some of the most magnificent views of the Colorado river on offer at the Grand Canyon.
There are many stops along the way that offer beautiful sceneries and unique experiences of the canyon. However, two must-visit stops along the way include Yaki Point and Duck on a Rock.
Yaki Point is a gorgeous lookout point where visitors can sit and enjoy the panoramic views of the canyons. This is also a great location to view both the beautiful sunrise and sunset over the canyons. Yaki Point is not accessible via a private vehicle and is only accessible through a free shuttle bus operated by the park.
Duck on a Rock is located just east of Yaki Point and is thought to resemble a duck sitting atop a rock. The unofficial point is unmarked by the park so is easy to miss to those passing by. However, it is definitely worth a stop and a look by those visiting Desert View Drive.
Tusayan Museum and Ruin
The Tusayan Museum and Ruin is located just 3-miles west of Desert View Drive and is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Arizona.
Many historians have estimated that human civilization has been in the area of the Grand Canyon for around 12,000 years. Therefore, there are many archaeological remains in the area to be discovered and protect.
The Tusayan Museum is designed to teach visitors about the long history and all the previous unique civilizations that lived in the area. The ruins itself contains remains of the Pueblo Village that is believed to be upwards of 800-years old.
See a film at the IMAX in Tusayan
Located in Tusayan, Arizona within the visitors center of the south rim, there is a luxurious, air-conditioned theatre seating 487 guests.
The theatre also contains a large screen that shows the film ‘Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets’. This film takes visitors on an enhanced visual experience through the canyons, river and points.
The film is only around 30-minutes and starts at half past the hour, every hour during opening hours (8am-10pm during May).
See the sunset at Pima Point
Pima Point is the final stop along the Hermit scenic drive, before arriving at Hermit’s rest. From this point there is a wide panoramic view of over 40-miles of the canyons and makes a great spot to view the sunset.
The only downside is that during May, this road is closed to private vehicles, and therefore the only way to access it is through the use of free shuttle buses (or hiking it).
Therefore, this spot is likely to be a bit crowded of other visitors wanting a glimpse of the sunset too. however, if you arrive a bit early, you’ll be sure to sore a great spot and enjoy the beautiful sunset without the distraction of others in front of you.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
The skywalk is located along the west-rim of the Grand Canyon and consists of a horse-shoe glass bridge extending 70-feet over the rim of the canyon.
The bridge itself is made from glass, so if you look down you can see over 4,000 feet below to the canyon grounds.
This is truly a unique experience and offers views of the canyons that you can’t get anywhere else! There is also a gift shop and a restaurant located at the bridge to make your experience even longer and better.
Helicopter Tour over the Canyon
What better way to see the beauty of the canyons and all it has to offer than seeing it from a helicopter flying above?!
Helicopter rides over the canyon give visitors a unique experience and provide views that otherwise would be missed. By doing a helicopter tour, visitors get to experience the canyons by looking down into them, something that is often missed when just looking out from a viewpoint.
Although these tours are often a bit pricey, they are well worth it and will provide unforgettable memories.
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 Spring 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conclusion – Is it worth visiting the Grand Canyon in May?
The warm weather, the minimal tourism, the unique activities and the beautiful canyons all make for May a great time to visit the Grand Canyon! Being able to hike through the canyons in warm sunny weather without having the summer crowds makes it ideal for those wanting a tranquil experience. The unique experiences offered during this time also make May a perfect time for those wanting to visit the Grand Canyon!
Over to you! Have you visited the Grand Canyon in May? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments below about your experience at the Grand Canyon.
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