Winter driving and hiking conditions return to Grand Canyon
State Route 67 to North Rim closed for the winter; area still open to foot traffic
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Following a storm last weekend, and with a chance for more snow on Friday, visitors to Grand Canyon National Park should be prepared for snow-packed and icy roads. Visitors can expect temporary road closures and poor driving conditions whenever winter storms pass through the area.
Winter hikers at Grand Canyon should also prepare for icy trails, cold temperatures, and shorter daylight hours. NPS Preventive Search and Rescue rangers recommend extra snacks, over-the-shoe-traction devices, flashlights/headlamps, and layered clothing. For additional hiking tips and recommendations, visit www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/winter-recreation.htm.
Hikers should also be aware of seasonal water availability. Because of freezing temperatures, drinking water is available on the Bright Angel Trail at Indian Garden only. On the North Kaibab Trail, water is available at Manzanita Rest Area only. Water is also available at Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Campground, and Boat Beach.
Visitation to Grand Canyon decreases in winter. Hermit Road opened to private vehicles Dec. 1, Mather Campground reverts to first-come, first-served, and Arizona Highway 67 to the North Rim is closed. Overall visitation is down in the winter, but during the holidays park rangers recommend arriving prior to 10 a.m. to avoid holiday crowds.
Park rangers also remind visitors that a warm, sunny day in Phoenix does not guarantee a nice day at the park — nighttime low temperatures can dip into the single digits and Grand Canyon averages 50 to 100 inches of snow per year. For reference, Cleveland, Ohio averages about 60 inches of snow per year. All visitors should bring along winter apparel, such as jackets, hats and gloves.
State Route 67, leading to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, is now officially closed for the winter. The area is still open to hikers, but no facilities are in operation.
The highway will be blocked to traffic about a half mile from its junction with US 89A at Jacob Lake. With park facilities closed for the winter, the Arizona Department of Transportation doesn’t clear snow from the highway, which leads 43 miles south from US 89A.
The North Rim averages more than 9 feet of snow annually, according to the National Weather Service. SR 67 is scheduled to reopen in mid-May along with North Rim lodges, campgrounds and other amenities.
For current road and weather information in Grand Canyon National Park, please call 928-638-7496.