Summer in the Grand Canyon

By Zeke Quezada

Raise a glass to great views and road trips! Summer is the time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon and try to consider if you have a wine that can compete with the landscape around you.

Travel, drink, enjoy!

Explore The Grand Canyon

Look out over the edge of the Grand Canyon and just below the Kaibab Formation you’ll see another layer of sandstone that sits on top of mudstone as it hovers over another layer of lithified sand and clay from a time so long ago it is almost impossible to comprehend. The Grand Canyon is an icon and it is fairly easy to recognize in photographs. However, as you peak down into the massive canyon with its cliffs and jagged edges that extend to the valley floor almost 6000 feet below it’s hard to imagine how this place came to be. Sure, you can read the signs about the Colorado River racing through the plateau and carving out this park that is now visited by over 4 million people each year. However, to truly get a feel for Grand Canyon you have to try stand there, at the edge, and picture flat land. Picture the desert. Picture a river. Picture weathering and erosion. Even after a long glance that might turn into an awkward stance atop a deep canyon it is hard to imagine that rock that is 2000 million years old is within reach. The river you see far below, the culprit in this removal of soils that has left this giant chasm is 277 miles long through the canyon. Somehow, in the blink of a geologic eye the Grand Canyon was formed. 5 millions years and the water from the north washed through the area and left a gaping hole and the remnants of this land ended up in the Gulf of Mexico. There is a reason why you would venture through the desert to see this natural wonder. The reason resides in the fact that the site is one to behold. The vastness of the Canyon and its range is too easily dismissed in photographs.  To see it for yourself, is to truly appreciate the power of the natural world.

South Rim – This where all the action occurs and it is open year round. If you want to avoid the crowds this is not the place to do it. However, tours and hike start from the south rim and the visitors center, campgrounds, lodging and food are all found in the village area. Hikes begin from this point to most parts of the park.

North Rim – You know if you are a North Rim type of person if you typically pack trail mix into your day pack and your idea of fun rarely includes paved trails. The North Rim is far less traveled but the rewards are in the lack of crowds and impressive views of the canyon. The temperatures are far more forgiving and there is always a chance of weather. Visit Bright Angel Point which is walking distance from Grand Canyon Lodge or head to Cape royal where the views are among the best in the Grand Canyon. (Seasonal)

Weather in Grand Canyon:

Winter

If you have ever captured a picture of the Grand Canyon with show along the south rim you’ll tell people it’s your favorite time of the year. Winter brings in the least amount of visitors so you will not be battling with the never ending stream of tourists asking you to take their photo with the canyon in the background. You will however be dealing with actual winter conditions so be prepared for some snow and ice as well as temperatures that rarely get above 45F until right about the time spring is knocking at the door.  Evenings are typically below freezing so expect to take a stroll while being appropriately bundled up. The bright blue sky does appear often and the contrast between the bright snow and blue sky on the rock faces makes for some stunning vistas.

Spring

If there is a time of year when you can catch a glimpse of the perfect Grand Canyon weather it is the spring. You’ll still experience some cooler temperatures with highs climbing through the 60’s to the 80s by June but there is always the possibility of a late season storm. This shoulder season of weather temperatures is when the crowds return. The campgrounds are full and the activity around the visitor’s center is almost in summer form. You’ll still need to pack a jacket and long underwear because even under normal conditions it does get cool in the late afternoon and into the evening.

Summer

You’ll quickly realize that you are in the desert if you decide to take a hike in to the canyon during the summer months. While the rim of the Grand Canyon may seem pleasant, the moment you decide to drop in elevation and go deeper into the canyon you’ll feel the temperatures move up quickly.  When you stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon on the South rim you should expect summer temperatures in the mid 80’s but walk down and soon the summer sun has you feeling the effects of 90+ summer heat. Bring plenty of water and pack your patience because plenty of people are in the Grand Canyon during the summer.

Fall

People continue coming in to the Grand Canyon in the fall and the temperatures seem to hold steady right up until late October. The mornings can be cool but daytime temperatures get very comfortable and into the mid 60s. The transition from summer to winter is gradual so as the temperatures slowly go down so do the visitors.

Best Things To Do In The Grand Canyon

Hiking the Rim – Visit the Visitors Center for hikes for every ability.

Mule Trips – You’ve wanted to do this since you saw those re-runs of the Brady Bunch

Helicopter Tour – Soar over the top of the canyon and see the park from the in side of a helicopter

Drive the East Rim Drive – Head out east and you see the park as the elevation changes and you enter the desert landscape. (Ambitious? Monument Valley and Navajo National Monument are further east)