View of Colorado River from the South Rim
National Parks Travel

Visiting the Grand Canyon in the Winter – The South Rim

Visiting the Grand Canyon is a bucket list item for most people and it was definitely on ours.  My fiance and I were fortunate enough to visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in January 2017.  It was the last stop on our cross-country road trip from New Jersey to California, and it was breathtaking.

Below is a link to our road trip video that includes the Grand Canyon:

The South Rim Grand Canyon National Park

National Park – Prices

Since we had the National Park Annual Pass our entrance fee was waived. If you are unfamiliar with the National Park Annual Pass, you can purchase it at any national park or online. It is $80.00 that is good for 12 months from the date of purchase. This means if you purchase it in January 2017 it is good until the end January 2018, if purchased in May it is good until the following May, etc. The passes are non-refundable and non-transferable. However, two individuals are allowed to sign each pass meaning that these two individuals are considered “owners” of that pass.

If you do not have the annual pass expect to pay $30 per vehicle to enter the South Rim.

TIP:  Most national parks have entrance fees so the pass is worthwhile if you plan on visiting three or more parks within the year.

Park Entrance

There are several ways to enter the park; we entered through Route 64. Route 64 brings you right to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Mather Point.

During the winter months the Grand Canyon’s temperature ranges from 30 to 40 degrees.  With this drop in temperature, snow storms are common and make for great photos of the canyon!  Fortunately, we arrived a few days after a snow storm and were able to see snow covered trees entering the park as well as snow on the canyon.

What to Do?

You can chose to stay at one of the lodges in the park or in Tusayan, about 10 minutes south of the visitors center and outside of the park entrance.  There are a number of hotels and lodges both inside and outside of the park.

There are a various number of viewpoints to capture both memories and photos of the South Rim.  The first viewpoint that visitors can observe the South Rim at is Mather Point, which is a quick walk behind the visitor center.

South Rim View of Mather Point from a far.
View of Mather Point from a far.
5 Minute Walk West of Mather Point
5 Minute Walk West of Mather Point

If you have a vehicle you can drive to the other viewpoints like Maricopa, Powell, Hopi, and Hermit’s Rest (these are just a few of the viewpoints that showcase amazing footage of the canyons).

Hermit’s Rest is the last viewpoint west of the visitor center and is roughly a 20 minute drive or a 4 hour walk from the visitor center. Since it is the last viewpoint their are less visitors and there is more room to do some serious exploring.  Hermit’s Trail is a hiking trail located in Hermit’s Rest that allows you hike down into the canyon.  Unfortunately, due to the weather and the time of day, we were unable to trek all the way down into the canyon.

Exploring down Hermit's Trail
Exploring the beginning of Hermit’s Trail
Sitting on the edge of Hermit's Rest
Sitting on the edge of Hermit’s Rest

Where to Eat?

There are several places to eat in the park, as well as outside the park in Tusayan (Grand Canyon Village outside of the park entrance).  We chose to eat dinner in the park at El Tovar Lodge, which had picturesque views of the Grand Canyon from the dining room. The menu ranges from soup and salads to entrees such as pork and steak.

What’s Next?

We plan on visiting the Grand Canyon again as there is so much more to do and see.  The plan is to visit Havasu Falls when the weather gets warmer and go on a camping/hiking excursion followed by a one or two-night stay on the North Rim.

Stay tuned for more!

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