Winter driving, hiking conditions have arrived at the Grand Canyon

This 2012 NPS photo shows a winter storm moving into the Grand Canyon as seen from Ohh Ah Point on the South Kaibab Trail. The view is across Cremation Creek at Zoroaster, Brahma and Deva Temples on the North Rim. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Jan. 21, 2012 | NPS Photo by Michael Quinn via GCNP Flickr page, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – Following a storm last weekend, and with a chance for more snow 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.

The National Park Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety and Coconino County Sheriff’s Office recommend the following winter driving tips:

  • Take your time and be patient. Allow extra time to get to your destination.
  • For best traction, always accelerate, decelerate, and turn slowly.
  • Increase the distance between you and the traffic ahead of you, allowing plenty of time to brake and steer around hazards.
  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are set for normal road and driving conditions. Snow and ice are not normal.
  • Keep emergency supplies such as snacks, blankets, and flashlights in your vehicle.

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. Additional hiking tips and recommendations can be found on the park’s webpage on winter hiking.

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 and starting December 1, Hermit Road is open to private vehicles, 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 am 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, OH averages about 60 inches of snow per year. All visitors should bring along winter apparel, such as jackets, hats, and gloves.

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1 Comment

  • .... December 2, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Well you have to plan ahead for the winter activities in that area as you would for the summer activities folks. enjoy this magnificent park and be careful and have fun out there

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