The Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim may have already closed up shop for the winter, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to do in the area as the days grow shorter. Grand Canyon South Rim is still open for business, and many campgrounds in the area are not only open, but home to exciting opportunities to explore a newly frozen wilderness.
The Grand Canyon North Rim campgrounds and yurt are still available for winter camping and hiking, but since Arizona Route 67 is closed, you’ll need to follow trails from the South Rim entrance to access the North Rim campgrounds unless you’re planning on skiing there of hiking in snowshoes. To stay in these areas, you will need a backcountry permit, but luckily you can pick one up at the South Rim’s Backcountry Information Center on your way to the North Rim. Alternatively, the Pipe Springs National Monument also issue backcountry permits, and the Bureau of Land Management in St. George may provide them as well. If all else fails, you can fax your request to (928) 638-2125 year-round.
Zion National Park is closing some of its amenities in preparation for the coming months of cold as well. The Zion Canyon Shuttle is no longer in service, and the Zion Human History Museum and South Campgrounds have closed until the weather begins to warm back up. There’s still plenty to do, though, as the Watchman Campground and Scenic Driver are both open to visitors, although the campgrounds are currently on a first-come first-served basis, so if you want to stay, it might help to arrive early enough to catch a campground just as someone leaves.
Safety, as always, should be your first priority, and with cold weather comes a more dangerous hiking environment. Make sure to bring a reliable method of communication with you in case of an emergency, and make sure you have the right equipment for you environment. YakTrax, traction-enhancing equipment that can be attached to any hiking boot or shoe, are extremely useful, especially in areas that don’t see much sun. Areas like that can quickly develop ice, and a little preparation can go a long way towards keeping you safe. Winter weather can be highly unpredictable and dangerous, especially at the elevations found on the way to the North Rim.
Have you ever taken a winter hike in the Grand Canyon area? How could our other readers best prepare for inclement winter conditions? Share your experience and tips in the comments section below, along with any other thoughts you may have!