Weather In The Grand Canyon: Planning

We often get asked “What is the weather in the Grand Canyon like?” It’s honestly one of the toughest questions for us to answer. No really, I mean it! Depending on your river trip type, you’ll travel between 85 to 270 miles on the Colorado River over several days through a remote National Park wilderness. Getting a truly accurate forecast is just not possible. Similar to your local meteorologist, they may predict something that doesn’t happen and the further out the forecast is, the less accurate it will be. 

colorado river boat

For these reasons, we like to stick to the old Kafka adage, 

“Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.”

Below are a few guidelines that may help you in your planning process:

  1. Packing layers is essential all year long! Temperatures in the canyon can change quickly and dramatically—regardless of what the forecast says. Layering is key to managing body temperature.
  2. Cooling down is easy (just get wet), but warming up can be tough.
  3. Forecasts at the Grand Canyon Village, South Rim will be very much different from the weather on the river. There is a 4,800 ft difference in elevation, which can mean the difference between snow and rain (a common occurrence in April, early May, and September).
  4. Knowing that you can use different clothing items for different purposes is useful. Ex. A long sleeve shirt is used to keep you warm as a layer and can also keep you cool by drenching it in the river water. 

We cannot stress enough how important it is to pack your fleece, long sleeve shirt, SPF pants and rain gear even if your forecast looks hot and dry! Even sunny mornings are surprisingly cold when you’re rafting through 55 degree water in a shaded part of the canyon. It’s best to enjoy the thrill and splash of the rapids without worrying about reheating your core temperature, so layer up and layer down as needed throughout the day.

For our 3-day trip guests: St. George, Utah is 80 miles north of the Bar 10 Ranch, but it’s the best we can get for this wonderful, remote locale up on the rim. For the rafting portion of your trip when you’re down in the canyon, the closest weather station is at Meadview, Arizona.

For all other trip guests: Phantom Ranch is the only weather station at river level in the Grand Canyon.  

Now put those layers back in your duffel bag and be prepared to have a great trip no matter what! We look forward to seeing you on the river!