With fewer tourists around the famous South Rim, winter is a great time to visit the Grand Canyon. But there will likely be snow on the ground and the North Rim is closed until May due to its higher elevation. Here’s what to do in the mean time.
Ride a mule: It was announced this week that the mule rides along the Bright Angel Trail will be reduced from 40 a day to just 10, but that only counts for the trail which goes right down to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon – there are still 10 heading along the top of the canyon on the South Rim as well.
Hike the canyon: It’s not for the faint hearted because there’s ice and snow on the rim, but you can still hike down into the canyon. Better still, it disappears a few hundred feet down, and things get warmer, too.
Take the train: The Grand Canyon Railway from Williams – the nearest town to the canyon – runs throughout the winter, and will take you up to the canyon (about an hour’s drive) in style. Williams itself is a funky little town with lots of retro touches, as befits its position on Route 66.
Take a river trip: Trips along the Colorado River can take anything from between half a day to four weeks. But you’ll have to start away from the South Rim – either at Page, AZ (trips run from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry on day trips) or at Diamond Creek, out by the West Rim.
See the West Rim: The West Rim isn’t instantly as spectacular as the south – it’s narrower, and looks more like a gorge than the classic Grand Canyon pictures – but it’s still an incredible sight, and it also has the Skywalk – a semi-circular plexiglass platform pushing out over the canyon. It’s not as scary as you might think – it’s more scrubby than sheer drop underneath – but it’s still an awesome experience. Just leave a lot of time to get there – bad road conditions mean it takes longer than it looks on the map.