The Grand Canyon, Trip Planning Resources

What to Wear to the Grand Canyon in the Winter

couple holding hands at grand canyon in winter snow

When most people picture the Grand Canyon, they imagine it in high summer—hot and sunny, full of tourists wearing shorts, and long days with late sunsets.

It’s easy to imagine The Grand Canyon as a warm place year round, given that it’s surrounded by desert and is located in and close to states well-known for their heat—Arizona and Nevada. But the Canyon also borders on Utah, so it gets cold and can even experience winter weather as early as October. In fact, this drastic drop in mercury is why the North Rim closes seasonally. And the winter weather isn’t exclusive to the North Rim—it recently snowed at the South Rim!

While the Canyon is immensely beautiful in winter and worth visiting any time of year, the weather can change dramatically throughout the day, especially across The Canyon’s different altitudes. So how does one dress for the Canyon when it gets cold? Keep reading for our advice on what to wear to the Grand Canyon in the winter.

Layer up

The key to comfort at the Grand Canyon in winter is to dress in warm layers. This way you can easily add or remove layers as needed, which is especially important if you are planning to be there all day (it’s much cooler before and after sunset!) or if you will be descending below the Rim—it can be considerably warmer at the bottom of the Canyon.

GRAND FACTS: “Thanks to its dramatic changes in elevation, the Grand Canyon contains multiple microclimates. . . This means that the weather can be drastically different in different areas of the Canyon. A mere 8 miles separates the coldest, rainiest ranger station (Bright Angel) from the hottest and one of the driest (Phantom Ranch) – you could be bundled up on the North Rim looking down on people hiking in shorts!”

Continue reading 8 Things You Didn’t Know About the Grand Canyon.

Make sure you check the weather forecast ahead of your visit so you can dress appropriately for that day’s conditions. On cold days at the Grand Canyon, we recommend packing and wearing these items:

  • Pants (preferably something heavy and wind-resistant, such as denim)
  • Long underwear
  • Long-sleeved t-shirt
  • Zip-up sweatshirt
  • Weatherproof or waterproof jacket or windbreaker
  • Thick, comfortable socks


While they do clear pathways within the Grand Canyon Village, they can still be slippery in the winter, and trails outside of the Village can be snow- and ice-covered. You should always wear warm, sturdy shoes or boots with a good tread when you visit in the winter. For serious hiking, especially below the Rim, you may also want to bring a pair of crampons.

Accessorize properly

While keeping your core warm will help send heat to the rest of your body, it is still important to protect your ears and hands from the wind and cold. On especially cold days, there is always a risk of frostbite if you will be outside for extended periods. Make sure you bring a hat, scarf, and warm gloves or mittens.

Sun protection

It might be winter, but you can still get sunburned! The sun can be especially bright if there is snow on the ground because the snow reflects the light and can cause skier’s sunburn. Make sure you bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip block to keep yourself protected.

Drink water

Whether you visit in the winter or summer, the Grand Canyon is arid and you should plan and provision yourself accordingly to stay hydrated during your visit. Be sure to pack a reusable water bottle—there are refill stations located around the Grand Canyon Village and at some viewpoints in the Grand Canyon National Park.

PRO TIP: If you aren’t taking a tour and are driving alone or hiking in the Canyon, make sure you pack a winter travel kit with emergency items. If you’re not sure what to include, start with:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper & winter windshield-washer fluid
  • Lock de-icer
  • Cell phone & charger. Consider investing in a solar-powered one if you hike regularly.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Hand-cranked or battery powered radio
  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Matches and candles
  • Extra hats, socks, and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables


As you pack or prepare yourself for your visit to the Grand Canyon in the winter, remember to check the weather in advance and dress appropriately for the forecast. Wear comfortable clothing and layers so you can add or remove things as needed, such as:

  • Pants (preferably something heavy and wind-resistant, such as denim)
  • Long underwear
  • Long-sleeved t-shirt
  • Zip-up sweatshirt
  • Weatherproof or waterproof jacket or windbreaker
  • Thick, comfortable socks
  • Warm shoes or boots with a good tread
  • A hat, scarf, and gloves

If you’re sure an off-season visit is what you want, check out Things to Know Before Your Winter Trip to the Grand Canyon.

Not sure if a winter trip is right for you? Discover 4 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Grand Canyon this Winter or figure out When Is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Grand Canyon.

Visiting in a warmer season? Learn more about What to Wear When You Visit the Grand Canyon.


About Ria Borja

Ria is a Customer Experience Manager at Canyon Tours and an avid lover of the outdoors. When she isn't helping other travelers check destinations and dream vacations off their bucket lists, she's busy exploring the Southwest. Her favorite place to visit is (unsurprisingly!) the Grand Canyon.