Visiting the Grand Canyon in November
While most visitors come to Grand Canyon National Park in the summer and early fall, November can be one of the best months to visit the canyon. Crowds have cleared and travelers who enjoy a bit more solitude will really enjoy having a more peaceful canyon experience. Although temperatures drop and snow is possible, sunny days and warm temperatures are common and November can offer some of the best weather all year. Below are a couple of ideas to help plan a November you’ll remember at the world’s grandest canyon. You definitely need to be a bit more flexible and adventurous this time of year, but having the North Rim to yourself, or enjoying a hike without hordes of tourist is well worth a bit of uncertainty.
Go for a hike
Hiking the canyon in November is awesome. While the masses hoof it up and down the South Rim trails in the sweltering summer months and backcountry hikers max out permits for September and October, November is a great time to hike. If you’re interested in a day hike the South Rim and North Rim (if accessible) both have great options, with a lot less traffic on the trail. If you like to backpack, permits are much easier to get in November, especially if you’re willing to get on the wait list at the Grand Canyon backcountry office. Because roads are not maintained on the North Rim and facilities are closed after October 15th, it’s usually better to stick with the South Rim for backpacking trips. If you need more information on hikes and backpacks check out the backcountry permit page on Grand Canyon’s website.
Head to the North Rim
The North Rim is closed in November, isn’t it? Facilities on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon including hotels, restaurants, stores, gas stations and park offices are closed after October 15th. The main road to the North Rim (Hwy 67) remains open until the first big snow storm and the park remains open until November 30th. This means you can stop at a viewpoint, do a hike, or hang out in a beautiful meadow all by yourself. If you need lodging the Jacob Lake Inn, about 45 minutes from the North Rim is the closest place to stay. If the weather turns, head back down Marble Canyon and Lee’s Ferry and check out where the Colorado River first enters the Grand Canyon. There is also lodging and food at Cliff Dwellers and Vermillion Cliffs lodge.
Check out the view
Everyone who visits Grand Canyon National Park wants to see an amazing view and great views are something the canyon pretty much guarantees. Although it’s nice sharing that awesome vista with your friends and family, having a big crowd can dull the experience. With far less visitation, November is a great month to have a little more peace and quiet while you take in the canyon’s splendor. On the South Rim, Desert View drive has many overlooks you can drive too in the comfort of your own car. Instead of trying to find out what other people say the best view is, check them out for yourself and find one where it’s just you and the canyon. If it’s still busy along Desert View Drive, hop on the parks free shuttle and head to Hermits Rest. There are multiple stops and a trail that parallels the road with numerous vistas to take in the canyon. You can also head to Bright Angel bikes and rent a bike to cruise along Hermit Road. Hermits Rest road is only open to shuttles, hikers and bikers so you can enjoy great views with a lot less visitation than other areas along the South Rim.
Seek Shelter and Stay Low
If the canyon does get some bad weather during your visit, the rim blanketed in a fresh dusting of snow is beautiful, get a photo! If it’s just plain nasty, get inside. The El Tovar, Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio and Desertview Watchtower have canyon views from inside as well as some cool art, souvenirs and in the El Tovar some good drinks. The Grand Canyon Imax in Tusayan right outside the park is also a great way to see the canyon if you have time whether the weather is good or bad. If you still want to get fresh air and avoid the cold and snow, stay low. The lower your elevation the warmer it will be. If you’re up for a hike to the bottom of the canyon, see if there’s space at Phantom Ranch. If you’re interested in doing something a bit more “mellow” drive to Lee’s Ferry. This is where Grand Canyon National Park starts and Vermillion Cliffs and Marble canyon are great places to explore with a landscape that is very different from the rest of the canyon.
These are just a few suggestions to enjoy Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding area in the month of November. There are benefits to visiting the Grand Canyon any time of the year, but November offers a unique window for weather, activities and solitude that make it one of our favorite months! If you need more help planning your November adventure, just Ask the Guru and we’ll help you plan a custom trip with our free trip planning tool.