It’s officially fall, and as the temperature starts dropping, many families are taking advantage of the more mild temperatures to go on a family vacation. The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most cherished American family destinations, but if you’re planning a trip there, there are a few things you should keep in mind, especially if you’re planning on visiting the North Rim.
The Grand Canyon’s North Rim will be gradually closing down throughout the second half of October due to less forgiving weather conditions at the North Rim’s higher altitude. The Grand Canyon’s South Rim, however, will stay open year-round, and if you’re just looking for a family getaway, the South Rim should meet all of your needs. It has more developed facilities, and is typically more popular, but if you’re looking for a smaller-scale adventure, you may prefer the lower-key North Rim.
There are fewer crowds, less traffic, and fewer facilities, making it a more basic experience that some prefer. If you’re planning on visiting the North Rim soon, here’s what you need to know about winter closures.
– October 15th: Regularly scheduled ranger-led programs will be offered up until this point, and reservations will be taken, but at the end of the day on October 15th, all concessions (excluding the gas station and gift shop) will close for the winter. This will also be the final day for mule rides. If you’re planning on making your visit after this time, be prepared for winter driving conditions.
– October 16th: Official North Rim closure begins, but the park will still be open with minimal facilities to visitors until Highway 67 is closed due to snow. Between the 16th and 31st, campsites will be offered at the North Rim Campground on a first-come first-served basis.
– October 20th and beyond: The North Rim’s Visitor Center closes on the 20th, followed by the closure of the Kaibab Lodge on the 21st. Weather permitting, the North Rim Country Store will remain open until noon on November 1st. Jacob Lake Inn, the restaurant and gas station outside of the main North Rim area, will remain open year-round. The Arizona Department of Transportation will try to keep Highway 67 open until December 1st, but a heavy storm could close it earlier. Highway 89A, however, is open year-round.
If you’re planning a trip down to the Grand Canyon National Park this fall, just be sure to call ahead and make sure that the roads and facilities you need access to are open. For information of Arizona Highways, you can call (888) 411-7623, and to contact the Jacob Lake Inn, the number is (928) 643-7298.
If you plan on making a reservation at one of the aforementioned North Rim campgrounds, you’ll need a backcountry permit, and you can obtain one by visiting or calling the South Rim Backcountry Information Center. If all else fails and you’d like to visit the South Rim, the park is open year-round and all South Rim facilities will be open.
What’s your favorite time to visit the Grand Canyon? Do you prefer the South Rim experience or the less-crowded North Rim? Let us know in the comments section below!