Grand Canyon, Arizona

Visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the Winter

As I mentioned before, there were many good things and a couple bummer aspects about visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter. Unfortunately, through fault of our own, we weren’t able to hike into the canyon due to the icy conditions. There are several spots on the upper trails that do not see sunlight; therefore, the ice doesn’t disappear until spring. In order to hike on it, it’s wise to have crampons because it’s a long way down if you slip, and an even longer way up if you can’t get a good grip on your footing. With my track record of falling and stumbling, we thought it may be a good idea to skip the hike unless we had proper gear, so after unsuccessfully trying to buy crampons, we ran out of time and thus were stuck to hike only the rim.

One great aspect about visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter was the lack of people–there were many moments where we sat in total silence without anyone near us at all. When we did happen across others, they were few and far between except at the main lookouts with railings. For this reason alone, we loved visiting during the winter and are glad we experienced the rim. On our next visit, we won’t even bother with the rim and museums, and instead, we will get right to business hiking down the trails into the canyon.

That being said, what is there to do at the Grand Canyon in the winter when the weather isn’t cooperating or if you just don’t feel like hiking? Quite a bit actually! We found many ways to keep ourselves busy.

Lookout Points

First of all, there are many lookout spots all along the rim–don’t miss checking them all out. Although the canyon can start to look the same after some time, each view is uniquely beautiful in its own right. My favorite viewpoints were Yaki Point, South Kaibab Trailhead and Navajo Point. One way we kept the views interesting was by playing with perspective–we couldn’t help but entertain ourselves with taking photographs and videos that looked like we are falling off the edge of the canyon!

Grand Canyon, AZ

Grand Canyon, AZ

Playing with Perspective: Grand Canyon from Wander The Map on Vimeo.

Desert View Drive

The Desert View Drive takes you along the South Rim of the canyon to the eastern edge of the village. Along the drive, the main attractions are six viewpoints, the Tusayan Ruin and Museum and the Desert View Watchtower area.

The Tusayan Ruin and Museum shows a glimpse into the Pueblo Indian life over 800 years ago. Walking the short trail will lead you through a pueblo that consisted of a living room, storage rooms and a kiva. The museum showcases artifacts and history detailing the site.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

There are quite a few services in the Desert View area ranging from campgrounds to gift shops and a marketplace. For a scenic view and a look into past Indian life, climb the Desert View Watchtower. Inside you will find murals by a Hopi artist, a gift shop, and from the lookout windows you will see expansive views of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Dessert and San Fransico Peaks.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Yavapai Museum of Geology

I found this museum very interesting and the spectacular views of the canyon made it even better. Inside the museum you will find exhibits and photographs that discuss the geology of the canyon, such as its rock layers, the plateaus and how the canyon was formed.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Verkamp’s Visitor Center

The Verkamp’s Visitor Center is very small and houses a bookstore/gift shop along with a small exhibit about the Grand Canyon Community. It documents what it was like to live at the Grand Canyon and important moments in the parks history.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Hopi House

Built in the early 1900’s to resemble a traditional Indian house, the Hopi House was a gift shop where visitors could watch native Hopi artisans at work. At one point, there were families living and working at the Hopi House, and one family lived there for three generations. Now it appears to be more of a typical gift shop, but there are still many handmade items for sale.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Throughout the park, a convenient and free shuttle can take you from point to point around the canyon. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the Market Plaza are the main hubs and both have food and shops. Either of these places are great for parking and hopping on a shuttle. Also, the lodges have restaurants and gift shops if you feel like checking them out, as well. The lobby of the El Tovar Hotel was very pretty and as it is right along the edge of the canyon, there are beautiful views right from the porch.

Thankfully, we found numerous activities to keep us busy, but next time we visit the canyon, it will either be in the spring or with better equipment!

Have you been to the Grand Canyon? What season did you visit?

28 Comments
  • Lance
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:20h, 10 March Reply

    It’s good to know there is a lot to see even without hiking. I’d love to hike, but my wife isn’t a big outdoors person. So we might have to compromise and spend more time up top.
    Lance recently posted…Exploring Scotland’s Caerlaverock CastleMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:07h, 17 March Reply

      Yeah, I was glad to find so much to do up top–I really wasn’t expecting it at all. I always thought it was just hiking, but there is so much more, thankfully! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Katherine Belarmino
    Twitter:
    Posted at 02:49h, 11 March Reply

    That video is hilarious!
    Katherine Belarmino recently posted…Traveling to the Winter Wonderland of Madison, WisconsinMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:10h, 17 March Reply

      Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚ We were having a blast making it–it was quite entertaining!

  • Corinne
    Twitter:
    Posted at 06:37h, 11 March Reply

    I agree there is quite a bit to do at the Grand Canyon in the winter. I love taking my time with all the displays, and when it’s nice out, I don’t want to be inside so that’s a plus. And the views are still there!
    Corinne recently posted…Singapore Airport and Why It’s So Awesome!My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:11h, 17 March Reply

      That’s so true–the amazing views are always there! Can’t complain about that ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m now convinced it’s a great spot any time of the year!

  • Joyce Hertzoff
    Posted at 23:55h, 12 March Reply

    It’s hard to take a bad picture of the canyon any time of year. We’ve flown through on a helicopter, driven up with our travel trailer, and taken the train up from Williams, AZ, all fun ways to see it. And yes, there’s plenty to see without hiking or taking a mule to the bottom.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:17h, 17 March Reply

      Yes, it’s definitely hard to take a bad photo! Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tomas
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:47h, 15 March Reply

    Yeah, you found some cool stuff. We know how to get active travelers into the canyon without icy trails. There are many places to see and winter can be a great time to visit.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:22h, 17 March Reply

      That’s great! Wish we would have had more time to explore alternate options!

  • Charli
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:50h, 17 March Reply

    haha! Love the perspective video!! We’ve planned to visit in the summer so our view will be different but just as spectacular!
    Charli recently posted…Tramping Tracks Of New Zealand’s Te Tai PoutiniMy Profile

  • twiri
    Twitter:
    Posted at 03:36h, 19 March Reply

    wow, great article! you know us on the other side of the world just think the grand canyon is just that, a grand canyon. its so much more with all the history, museums, trekks incredible. would truly love to visit this place because just lovely destination! great article and remarkable photography! cheers!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:26h, 21 March Reply

      Thank you! Yeah, I was surprised how much more there was to it as well. I think that’s why it took us so long to get there–I didn’t realize how much else there was to do. We loved it though and can’t wait to return!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Hiking the Devil’s Bridge Trail in Sedona, AZMy Profile

  • Megan
    Twitter:
    Posted at 23:11h, 20 March Reply

    Still looks like you had a fairly decent day – we drove up to the Grand Canyon last March and literally drove into a snow storm – we were there, at the Grand Canyon, lol yet couldn’t even see our hand in front of us let alone the canyon! Make for a cool story though!!
    Megan recently posted…Where to Stay in LondonMy Profile

  • Alex
    Posted at 03:48h, 21 March Reply

    I absolutely loved your post! The photos are briliant and remind me of my trip to the Grand Canyon in 2011. Keep it up!:)
    Alex recently posted…Responsible travelling?My Profile

  • Beth
    Twitter:
    Posted at 22:59h, 22 March Reply

    Love your video, very creative ๐Ÿ™‚
    Beth recently posted…A Few of My Favorite (Travel) Things: Spring 2014 EditionMy Profile

  • Mary
    Twitter:
    Posted at 13:04h, 23 March Reply

    We’re big fans of traveling off season. There are fewer people and it gives you a new perspective. Thanks for sharing the info on the The Tusayan Ruin and Museum.
    Mary recently posted…โ€œImprove Your Writingโ€ & โ€œBlogging for Businessโ€: GGT Expands Mentorship PackagesMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:26h, 25 March Reply

      Thanks! Yeah, we always seem to go off season or shoulder season if nothing else. It’s so nice to have a place almost to yourself!

  • Ron
    Twitter:
    Posted at 16:15h, 01 April Reply

    I haven’t made it to the Grand Canyon yet but it’s always been a site of interest to me. Although the campgrounds seem like something down my alley, I’d definitely like to try out the hike & learn more about the way of life for the Sopi Tribe.
    Ron recently posted…Phewa Tal of Nepal in Pokhara Valley | Photo EssayMy Profile

  • Matt
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:13h, 09 March Reply

    My girlfriend and I were considering checking our Arizona this winter! Lol, settled on Miami Beach. But it still looks beautiful there! Love the lack of crowds!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:37h, 29 March Reply

      We loved the lack of crowds, too! It was a really great spot to visit in the winter. Miami Beach is always fun though, too ๐Ÿ™‚ We used to live about an hour from Miami–really great spot in the winter!!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Colorado in the WinterMy Profile

  • Ayla
    Twitter:
    Posted at 04:51h, 16 October Reply

    I’m visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time at the end of March next year so hopefully some of the trails into the Canyon will be open at that time. The view from the rim looks incredible though.

    That video is brilliant!!
    Ayla recently posted…10 of the Best Harry Potter Locations Around the WorldMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 16:31h, 20 October Reply

      Thanks so much! ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a wonderful time–it is definitely a beautiful spot! Hope you are able to hike on some of the trails, too. It would be so fun to get down into the canyon a bit!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…5 Must Do Adventure Activities in IcelandMy Profile

Post A Comment

CommentLuv badge