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Visiting Grand Canyon in December

Ideal time to check off this natural wonder from your bucket list!

Fast Facts:

Entrance Fee$30 (Vehicle pass, valid for 7 days)
Credit Card AcceptedYes
Handicapped AccessibleYes
Parking AvailableYes
Changing RoomYes
Lockers AvailableNo
Food AvailableYes

Recommendations:

  1. If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon in the month of December, make sure you pack warm clothes. Don’t forget gloves and a headband or hat to cover your ears.
  2. If you’re planning to stay overnight at the Grand Canyon, first check out the hotels and lodges in Grand Canyon Village. Be advised that hotels and lodges in Grand Canyon Village get full pretty quickly and are a little expensive too.
  3. If there ain’t any accommodation available at Grand Canyon Village, check out hotels in Tusayan, AZ, which is located just 6 miles from the village.
  4. Be advised that the South Rim of the Canyon is open year-round. On the other hand, North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October. If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon in the month of December, North Rim is NOT an option.

Overview:

Well, I can’t even tell you how many chances I’missed’ to visit the great Grand Canyon. Err, shall I use’missed’ or did I deliberately skip Grand Canyon?

I have been to Las Vegas a handful of times, and every time I was there, there was a chance to visit Grand Canyon considering its close proximity to Vegas. So, does it mean I never got chance to visit Grand Canyon in one of those trips to Vegas? No. Does it mean I deliberately skipped Grand Canyon? Yes. But why? Well, I always wanted to visit Grand Canyon, just not to ‘see’ it, but I wanted to ‘experience’ it by hiking, rafting, bungee jumping, etc. However, this kind of adventurous trip to the Grand Canyon never materialized.

Considering it was not on my travel radar anytime soon, I decided to visit Grand Canyon in one of my recent trips to Las Vegas just to’see’ it. At least for now.

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Weather at Grand Canyon in December:

We visited Grand Canyon in December, a week before Christmas, and the weather was cold, with the daily high in the 20’s and several inches of snow accumulation. However, the cold weather guarantees fewer tourist footfalls and therefore, fewer congested scenic points.

Please note that only the South Rim of the Grand Canyon can be visited in December because the North Rim is closed during the winter. With careful planning, a trip to the Grand Canyon in December can be a great winter getaway.

Year-round Weather at Grand Canyon, AZ:

Not visiting Grand Canyon in winter? No problem. The chart below will give you an idea about the year-round weather in Grand Canyon, AZ, and the average high and low temperature by month of the year. Hopefully, this information will help you plan your trip to Grand Canyon.

Source: http://www.usclimatedata.com

North Rim vs South Rim of Grand Canyon:

We visited the South Rim of Grand Canyon because of these factors:

  • South Rim is open year-round. On the other hand, North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October. Since we were visiting Grand Canyon in December, the North Rim was not an option.
  • The views are better from the South Rim as compared to North Rim.
  • South Rim is more touristy than North Rim. Therefore, tourist footfalls are much higher there.

Getting to Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon Village is around 275 miles east of Las Vegas, and it takes approximately 4 hours to drive there. We rented a car from Budget in Las Vegas and started our drive to Grand Canyon in the after noon. 

We stopped at Hoover Dam for a couple of hours which I will cover in another post. We stopped again at Williams for dinner. We reached Tusayan, which is 6 miles south of Grand Canyon village, just before midnight.

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Our time at the great Grand Canyon:

We woke up next morning, checked out of our hotel in Tusayan, and started our drive for the Grand Canyon village. After driving for a few minutes, we reached the park entrance, where the operators collected the park entrance fee.

The entrance fee is $30 per car irrespective of number of passengers in the car. The pass is valid for 7 days. There was a lot of traffic for December, and we had to wait around 20 minutes for our turn.

We paid the entrance and resumed our drive to the village. We reached the village in next few minutes since it’s just 6 miles from Tusayan.

We searched for good vegetarian food in the village and decided to eat lunch at Bright Angel lodge which is right on the edge of the canyon.

After eating our lunch, we went to back of the lodge and that’s when we first encountered the Grand Canyon. It was truly magical. It was a cold after noon with snow accumulating around us, but it couldn’t stop us from clicking photographs.

Yavapai Point:

After checking out the canyon from the back of the lodge, we decided to check out some of the other scenic points. There are a lot of scenic points like Maricopa Point, Hopa Point, Yavapai Point, Mather Point, etc in and around the village. Our first stop was Yavapai Point. 

The drive from Bright Angel Lodge to Yavapai Point was again a short one. There was parking available, which was around 75% full. I would say pretty full considering the December month. I can only imagine how bad the parking situation would be during the summer. Now you have one more reason to visit Grand Canyon in winter. 😉

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There was a restroom right next to the parking lot. The walk from the parking lot to Yavapai Point was a short one. There was a Yavapai Geologocal Museum and Bookstore, which provided some interesting facts about the canyon. We did some souvenir shopping from the book store and enjoyed the panoramic views from inside this warm building, which was a big relief in cold December.

Us at the Yavapai Point 🙂

Yavapai Point

In this picture, you can see the snow accumulation around the canyon walls at Yavapai Point.

Snow-covered trails at Yavapai Point.

We went ‘green’ at Yavapai Point by refilling our bottles with this spring water. The water was dead cold but sweet.

Mather Point:

By car, Mather Point is located just a few miles away from Yavapai Point. It’s even shorter (approximately 0.8 miles) if you’re walking. However, since we’d visited the Canyon in December, we decided to take our car along to Mather Point because of cold weather.

The parking lot for the Mather Point is located right in front of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. There is a small cafe, a book store and a bike rental located in the vicinity too. The parking lot is much bigger than the one at the Yavapai Point.

After parking our car in the parking lot, we rushed into the cafe to get some coffee that could help us fight the cold weather. The walk from the parking lot/cafe to the Mather Point was again a short one.

The views from the Mather point is largely the same as those from the Yavapai Point. However, we found Mather Point to be more touristy as compared to Yavapai Point.

Crowds at Mather Point Pretty full for the month of December, I would say!

My favorite picture at Mather Point.

Verdict:

I would recommend visiting Grand Canyon, not just because it’s one of the natural wonders of the world, but because of it’s vastness and to realize how small we humans are in front of Mother Nature.

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