Christmas at the Grand Canyon

Most people probably don't think of spending Christmas at the Grand Canyon. Although many may not consider national parks winter holiday hotspots, we believe the Grand Canyon is one of the greatest places to create Christmas memories. With cool temps, no crowds and accessible winter activities, it's a great time of year to visit the park. Grand Canyon is a true masterpiece during the winter months. The endless views of layered snow upon stacked red rocks deep into the canyon, make you see winter with a whole new appreciation. Just stop in for the day, walk the rim and have a Christmas meal; or hike to the Colorado River, spending your holiday in the Canyon's backcountry. Hiking with cactus on the south rim, or cross-country skiing in the pines, the Grand Canyon is a magical place for everyone at Christmas time.

Five Reasons to spend Christmas at The Grand Canyon:

  1. Fewer people
  2. Avoid the hot summer temperatures (especially on the south rim).
  3. Winter conditions create cloud inversions, where clouds can often be viewed resting low or even in the canyon below the rim.
  4. Sunrises from the South Rim are the best sunrises, especially if there's snow.
  5. The North Rim turns into a magical winter wonderland nestled in Christmas trees. It's inaccessible by road during winter months, but you can access the North Rim by hiking from the South Rim for a unique and remote experience!

Grand Canyon Christmas Options:

The Polar Express (Just for the day)

Ride The Polar Express train in pajamas with hot cocoa and cookies from Williams to the Grand Canyon to see Santa's workshop. A family favorite and a wonderful way to experience the Grand Canyon during Christmas. Reservations are recommended, especially for Christmas Eve.

El Tovar Hotel (Stay in the park, on the rim, overnight)

Once considered one of the most elegant hotels west of the Mississippi, El Tovar will create an amazing Christmas atmosphere for anyone. This hotel is a great place to stay if visiting the Canyon for multiple days/nights and they provide a luxurious Christmas meal on Christmas Day. Starting at $194/night.

Phantom Ranch (Hike into the canyon, stay overnight)

Christmas in the Canyon's backcountry. From the South Rim you can hike the 7-mile trek down the South Kaibab trail or the 9.5-mile hike down the Bright Angel trail, to stay at Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel Campground. You need to get a permit and reserve your space prior. If you don't get a permit, or want to go last minute, keep calling to check on canceled reservations and you may luck out. Pack for snow and ice, with warm clothing and crampons for your hiking boots. This is the ultimate adventurer's Christmas!

Trust us, you'll never forget the Christmas you spent at the Grand Canyon!
But remember:

  • Check for alerts, and weather and road conditions
  • Trails can be very icy and muddy so always use caution and have the proper gear
  • Be sure to travel with a Winter Emergency Kit (Windshield scraper and fluid, flashlights, food and water, blankets, tow chain or rope, tire chains, shovel, cables)
  • There may be a lot of snow or none! The Grand Canyon's appearance changes depending on the weather, time of day and year! Just one of the many reasons to keep coming back.
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