What To Pack When Visiting The Grand Canyon

Depending on the weather or time of year and your planned activities – the clothing items, types of jackets and shoes you want to pack will vary. Because of the extreme differences in temperatures during the mornings, nights and afternoons, it is suggested that visitors bring a variety of clothing with them for every temperature or weather possibility.

  • During the summer it may be warm (84 degrees) – yet, a cold front can move in and cause it to be cold in the evenings and mornings, making tourists wish they had brought some sort of jacket to keep warm.
  • During the winter, it can still be warm, as well – making tourists wish they had brought shorts or cooler clothing.

Knowing The Weather

Having a good idea of what the weather is like and watching the forecasts ahead of time will help you plan your vacation packing. Check out the immediate 5 day forecast and seasonal temperatures.

South Rim Temperature

Vast differences in heat and cold extremes can cause distress to visitors who do not come prepared to deal with a variety of temperatures. The hot sun and desert air can make 81 degrees seem very hot and after a strenuous hike in the Canyon’s trails, the cooler degrees in the evening can seem very chilly.

  • The South Rim summer temperatures average highs in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 50s.

North Rim Temperature

Like the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the North Rim can also be extremely hot and fluctuate to a much lower temperature at night and early morning hours.

  • The North Rim summer temperatures average in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 40s.

Guideline Suggestions

Below are some basic guidelines to help you choose what to pack for various activities during the summer or winter months.

Grand Canyon Day Trips & Bus Tours

(Mostly indoors and in air conditioned or heated vehicles) The outdoor temperatures can be extremely warm in the summer and very cool in the winter. A very light set of clothing for the daytime and a light sweater for the cooler mornings and evenings will suffice for most days.

  • In the summer, for your average person, a pair of shorts, good walking shoes and a light tee shirt will suffice for bus tours and basic walking tours. It is suggested that everyone carry water with them to keep themselves well hydrated.
  • In the cooler winter times, a good pair of jeans and a comfortable longer sleeved shirt will suffice – with a windbreaker or light jacket for the evenings or days when the temperatures dip lower than normal averages.

Desert Hiking & Mule Riding, Extended Hikes and Camping

Layered clothing that can be removed during the heat is suggested, especially if you are starting off in the cooler morning and heading out into the desert afternoon – or if you are starting off in the heated day and staying until the cooler evenings.

  • Light colored long sleeved shirts made of thin material (Supplex or Cordura has been suggested by many people and quite a few of the guides) can help keep the body cooler by protecting against the hot sun shining directly on your skin, which helps your body stay cooler.
  • A thin tee shirt or tank top underneath is appropriate and may assist if you get too warm.
  • Shorts are appropriate for many of the park’s path hikes, however, if you are riding a mule or hiking where they may be brush or thorn bushes, you may prefer light, thin material pants to protect your legs.
  • Hiking boots are suggested – with a good fit and already worn in and comfortable. The paths are often long and uncomfortable shoes that cause blisters can make your experience less fun.
  • Thin socks to wick away the sweat can be layered with a thicker wool sock to pad your feet. It is appropriate to carry an extra pair of socks in your backpack.
  • Be sure to pack moleskin and bandages in case you get blisters on longer hikes.
  • Be sure to use sunscreen of a high blockage power, to protect your skin from burning.
  • A broad brimmed hat to keep sunlight from burning your neck and head is one way to defeat the searing heat.
  • Sunglasses to keep your eyes protected from the bright sunlight and glaring extremes.
  • Always carry water with you so that you remain hydrated. The temperatures are extreme in the desert and can go from extremely cool in the morning or night to excruciatingly hot in the direct sunlight during the day. Many hikers have fallen ill because they became overheated. Morning or early evening hikes are considered the safest for the extreme heat of the desert.
  • However, if you do decide to venture out during the heat of the day, it is suggested that you alternate between salty foods and water to keep your hydration balance in check. Also it is appropriate to carry a spray bottle of water to keep your neck, head and clothing damp – to allow your body heat to evaporate.

Remember – Always err on the side of caution

  • Carry water with you at all times and adequate sunscreen.
  • If you have any questions about what you should wear, check with a Ranger or one of the Tour Guides.
  • If you find you do not have the proper clothing with you, many of the shops and stores have additional clothing for purchase, including the National Geographic Branded Merchandise which you can outfit yourself for any expedition or guided tour.

Many items of clothing and outfitter gear can be found in the National Geographic® Store located at the Visitor Center.