The Grand Canyon’s marked differences in elevation conspire to create wildly different microclimates. Consider these extremes: The lowest temperature recorded here was -22 in 1985, the highest was 120. And one year, the North Rim received 23 feet of snow. Still, the area loosely follows the cycles of the seasons—and so do the fluctuations of visitors.
Summer is the most popular time for tourists. Temperatures on the South Rim are comfortable, with highs in the 80s, but the inner canyon is sweltering with temps routinely topping 100 degrees. Though it’s generally too hot for hiking, summer attracts vacationing families, and the lodges and South Rim visitor facilities can seem downright crowded.
Spring and fall bring cooler days, luring backpackers and hikers who appreciate the mild temperatures of the inner canyon. Each season has its own perks and foibles: Spring sees brilliant wildflowers, spring runoff, and persistent winds; fall is still and dry.
The winter months are coolest and see the fewest visitors. Heavy snows close the road leading to the North Rim between mid-October and mid-May, and on the South Rim, temperatures often dip into the 40s. Deep in the canyon, temperatures can plunge well below that, as the canyon bottom traps cold air and the low winter sun barely peeks past the high canyon walls.