Avoid Busy Grand Canyon Crowds By Visiting During This Time Of Year

Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular destinations for hikers and sightseers alike, with over five million annual visitors, per The New York Times. But the destination tends to receive the highest number of visitors, curiously, during the month of July. Parks and Trips reports that 550,000 people visit during July, and we say "curiously" because experts say that's actually the most dangerous time to visit. The National Park Service reported that in July 2023, a Grand Canyon hiker died of a heat-related incident, and park rangers warn of the dangers of visiting the park during the summer months. Park ranger and paramedic Jeff Schwartz told The New York Times, "When it's sunny and over 95 degrees in the canyon, our call volume for emergency medical response and rescue goes way up." 

Schwartz said that he has encountered unprepared hikers in the canyon: "They thought they'd be fine — they'll be exhausted, maybe they'll have muscle cramps, they'll have to drag themselves out. But they're really not picturing hours of uncontrollable vomiting, or renal failure." Death, he said, is also a very real outcome. So the crowds, coupled with the extreme temps, are reasons why you should opt to visit the canyon from November to March for smaller crowds, and April to June for best temperatures. With less foot traffic on the trails, the cooler temps also provide a less muddy, firmer terrain for hiking without the risk of heat stroke.

Make sure you plan ahead for your Grand Canyon hike

According to AAA, a Grand Canyon park ranger said, "There are only two kinds of hikers in the inner canyon in high summer — fools and rangers. And one's there only because of the other." Luckily, park rangers are also on hand to assist you should you find yourself in the canyon during the summer months, and struggling to beat the heat. Ranger Jeff Schwartz told The New York Times that hikers should always have salty snacks on hand and if not, the rangers can provide them. "It's amazing what a bowl of ramen noodle soup will do," he told the outlet, noting that search-and-rescue employees attend to over 300 hiker incidents per year. If you do visit during the summer, make sure you plan ahead of time by looking into weather patterns to avoid the rainy season in September or expected heat emergencies. Also, you should look into which hiking trails in the Grand Canyon would suit your physical ability. 

Luckily, TikTok is also on hand with some tips to keep you cool and beating the summer crowds. User @grandcanyonecoretreat recommends finding a creek close to the trail, and soaking your entire body in it (avoiding your shoes and socks) to keep cool. TikTokers @mikeandmish_ recommend bringing 1.5 liters of water with you along with snacks. "Start early so you can find parking, avoid crowds and the peak heat," they said, pointing out that temperatures can sometimes soar past 100 degrees Fahrenheit.