I visited the Grand Canyon during low season. The gorgeous views and lack of crowds made up for the colder weather.

  • The Grand Canyon is popular, so I visited in February to avoid the busy summer months.

  • Temperatures were brisk, but I still experienced the stunning views and trails of the national park.

  • I loved the peaceful atmosphere, the empty roads and paths, and the offseason hotel pricing.

The Grand Canyon has always been on my travel bucket list, with its sweeping views that warp one's sense of distance, cliff faces that tower over rugged hiking trails, and buildings steeped with history.

But Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, and it gets especially crowded in the summer months.

When my travel partner and I started planning a February trip to Arizona and Nevada to escape the cold northeast winter, I figured it would be the perfect time to visit the iconic landmark.

By visiting during the offseason, I was hoping to avoid crowds while still getting the Grand Canyon experience. Here's what I found.

The South Rim is the only part of the national park that's open during the winter months. We arrived on a Sunday and got into the park in minutes.

Entrance of Grand Canyon in winter
There were only a few cars at the entrance gate to the national park when we arrived.Andrew Chen

We had no problem finding a parking spot. The parking areas closest to the visitor center were mostly full, but lots further away had plenty of empty spaces.

Parking lot to visit Grand Canyon in winter
We were able to get a parking spot close to the visitor center.Andrew Chen

There weren't a lot of people around the visitor-center area. I imagine that this space gets very busy in the summer.

Visitor Center Area, empty, at Grand Canyon in winter
Everything at the visitor center was open, but there were no crowds or lines.Andrew Chen

The Grand Canyon gets snow in winter, but when we visited, it hadn't snowed for weeks. Still, I saw some areas roped off for snow storage.

Snow sotrage area
It looked like these areas were used to store snow after it got cleared from the main paths.Andrew Chen

We took a free shuttle to the trailhead of the South Kaibab Trail. There was plenty of room on the bus.

Shuttle bus with a few people on it to see Grand Canyon in winter
Everyone got a seat on the shuttle bus.Andrew Chen

The trails can get icy in the winter and there were warning signs at each trailhead. We'd brought crampons to add traction to our shoes.

Ice warning signs at Grand Canyon in winter
We only encountered a few pieces of ice on one of the trails.Andrew Chen

I was in awe as I caught my first glimpses of the Grand Canyon. I'd seen photos before, but the size and depth of the formations were jaw-dropping.

View of Grand Canyon in winter
The little bit of remaining snow added a nice touch to the views.Andrew Chen

I knew daytime temperatures in the winter could drop below freezing, but we were lucky to have 55-degree Fahrenheit weather for our afternoon hike.

tree and rocks in Grand Canyon in winter
It was partly cloudy during our hike.Andrew Chen

Some parts of the trail were wet and muddy, but others were completely dry. We only encountered a little bit of ice in a shaded area.

Muddy trail during visit to Grand Canyon in winter
Portions of the trail were quite wet.Andrew Chen

We passed people going in both directions on the trail, but it didn't feel busy at all. There were periods of up to 10 minutes where we didn't encounter anyone at all.

An empty trail at Grand Canyon in winter
We often had the trail to ourselves.Andrew Chen

We turned around at a scenic point called Cedar Ridge, which was mostly empty, too.

Cedar Ridge in winter
There were amazing views and very few people at Cedar Ridge.Andrew Chen

After the hike, we tried to catch the sunset at a lookout point near the visitor center. But more clouds had rolled in, so we couldn't see much.

Sunset at Grand Canyon in winter
We could only see a bit of the sunset in the distance.Andrew Chen

For dinner, we headed to Harvey House Cafe in the Grand Canyon Village and had a tasty, simple meal.

Harvey House dinner of fries, burger
The food tasted good and was exactly what we needed after an afternoon of hiking.Andrew Chen

We stayed the night at Kachina Lodge, one of the Grand Canyon Village hotels. It was only $150 — less than half of what the same room would cost in the summer.

Hotel room with brown carpet and two queen beds
I learned these rooms can get very pricey during the summer months.Andrew Chen

The next morning, we drove down Hermit Road, an area only accessible by shuttle bus for most of the year.

Hermit Road entrance, empty
Private vehicles are only allowed on Hermit Road from December to February.Andrew Chen

In the winter months, there's no shuttle service and the road is open to private vehicles.

Hermit Road parking lot with a few cars inside
Since there were no shuttle buses, the bus stops were available for use as vehicle parking.Andrew Chen

There were very few people using the trails and lookout points in this part of the park. We had a few of the spaces completely to ourselves.

Empty lookout point in winter
This lookout point appeared to be built to handle a lot of people.Andrew Chen

Grand Canyon Village was sparsely populated during the day as well, and it looked like the park was using the offseason to work on construction projects.

Rim TRail construction
There was some construction work on one of the paved walking paths.Andrew Chen

Even though we left the park in the middle of the day, the roads were mostly empty.

Empty roads driving around Grand Canyon in winter
There weren't very many cars on the road.Andrew Chen

Overall, we had a fantastic winter trip to the Grand Canyon. The lack of crowds gave us a peaceful atmosphere to enjoy the views, leaving me with no regrets about visiting in the low season.

Grand Canyon in winter view of sky and rock formations
Even if it had been a bit colder, I would still be happy with our decision to visit in the winter.Andrew Chen

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