A Grand Canyon November visit can be a rewarding experience. The summer crowds are gone and the weather is beautiful: chilly at night and mild during the day. A trip to the Grand Canyon is one of the best road trips in Arizona, so consider visiting when you’ll have more of the park to yourself.
According to the National Park Service, in an average year the Grand Canyon gets a smaller number of visitors in the late fall than in the park’s busiest months in summer. And we mean a significantly smaller number: in 2019 there were roughly 300,000 fewer visitors in the November than in either July or August. That translates to 10,000 less people per day. Which means there’s a LOT more space to enjoy the park. [NOTE: Statistics are similar for most prior years; 2020 visitation numbers are all out-of-whack due to the COVID-19 pandemic.]
What is the Grand Canyon weather in November?
Temperatures at the Grand Canyon in November range from a high of 52 to a low of 27 degrees (Farenhiet). We visited in late November during Thanksgiving Week and were surprised to see a bit of snow. While it was a brisk 42 degrees, between plowing and solar melt the roads were very clear so there was no problem getting around. In a strange phenomenon, when it snows at the Grand Canyon by the time it gets to the lower elevation canyon floor the snow has melted and becomes rain.
Is the Grand Canyon North Rim open in November?
Yes, but only for day visits. Due to its higher elevation (more than 8,000 feet), the North Rim gets more snow. All park services at the North Rim close October 15 and do not reopen until May 15. Anyone looking to make a Grand Canyon November visit should probably focus on visiting the South Rim.
So now that you know you’ll experience less crowds and mild-to-chilly weather, what’s so special about visiting in November? We’ve put together a list of expert tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon in late fall:
Spend more time at the Overlooks
In the summer months the overlooks are jam-packed with people, making it difficult to appreciate the majesty of the view in front of you. However, with much fewer people around at the Grand Canyon November it’s easier to get a front-row view of the canyon in all its glory. The view is so massive and so magnificent it’s impossible to absorb it all in a single glance and quick snap of your camera. Stop. Breathe. Look around. This is truly one of the wonders of the world–take the time to savor it.
One the joys of visiting in November is with so few people you can go back to the same spot hours later just to see how the shifting light changes the view. (This is awesome for photography buffs!)
Stay right in the park (or near the entrance)
This sounds like a no-brainer, but anyone who’s tried to get a reservation at one of the park lodges (or even within a few miles of the park entrance) during high season knows you have to book waaaaaay ahead of time, making it almost impossible. Not so with a Grand Canyon November stay, when less crowds also translates into more hotel rooms. For our most recent trip we visited the park during Thanksgiving week (although not during Thanksgiving itself).
The historic El Tovar Hotel was full (that hotel always books up way ahead), but we were still able to book a room at the nearby Yavapai Lodge (also in the park) just a few weeks prior to our trip. We were within walking distance of the rim path, which meant we could stroll along and view the canyon by moonlight. It was a magical moment: gazing out at the Grand Canyon as the multi-colored layers of ancient rock were kissed by a glimmer of silvery moonlight with absolutely no one else there to spoil the view . . . and talk about QUIET! I’m convinced you can hear the pine cones grow.
Even if the park lodges are full, you still have a pretty good chance to score a room at one of the hotels in nearby Tusayan, which is just outside of the park’s South Entrance Station. The park is open 24 hours a day, so you can still make the short drive to the rim for that moonlight stroll.
When staying in or nearby the park, you also have an opportunity to view the canyon at sunrise on your Grand Canyon November visit. If you’re an early riser, that is. [Full disclosure: we opted to sleep in, and have breakfast with a view instead . . .see below]
Have breakfast with a view of the Grand Canyon
You might not be able to get a room at the El Tovar hotel during your Grand Canyon November visit, but the next best thing is to have breakfast there. The classic grand El Tovar Dining Room serves up a morning meal that’s a notch or two above classic breakfast fare, all with a view over the Grand Canyon
On our last visit we enjoyed buttermilk pancakes with Arizona prickly pear syrup and pan-seared rainbow trout with eggs. Sitting in the log-paneled room with a fire crackling by the picture windows with soft music in the background was delightful. It was a cosy and delicious way to watch the morning sun play over the canyon’s walls.
Note: The El Tovar Dining room does not take breakfast reservations, however there are rarely long waits for a table in November.
See the Grand Canyon with snow
At an elevation of 7,000 feet the Grand Canyon November weather can be surprising, with mild daytime temperatures dipping to below freezing at night. But those chilly temperatures can yield a wonderful surprise: on our first morning we woke up to snow dusting the ground. We were treated to rare vistas of snow in the Grand Canyon and a few people (okay, I was one of them) had fun tossing snowballs into the gaping maw. That is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Grand Canyon November: Dress in Layers!
Those wide swings in temperature mean different clothing needs throughout the day. Unless you’re sleeping in a tent, you don’t want your Grand Canyon November trip to involve packing a bulky coat you only wear for an evening stroll.
Our advice: dress in layers. We like base layers in both silk and merino wool. They’re thin and lightweight, yet amazingly warm. You’ll still be warm and cozy, but you’ll have more room in your suitcase for souvenirs. And since there’s a chance you might get snow, it’s a good idea to wear shoes (or boots) that are waterproof or water resistant. (And layer with wool socks to keep your tootsies warm 😊)
Free Admission on Veterans Day
If you’re planning a Grand Canyon November trip, it’s good to remember that admission to the park is free on Veteran’s Day! In addition to the many battlefields and memorials that are national treasures, the National Park Service says, “every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the ideals, and the freedoms that our veterans protect.” Thus, they honor our veterans and active military by making the park (and all National Parks!) free to EVERYONE on that day. Way cool.
Please note: Free admission is only valid on Veteran’s Day itself. The regular admission to the park ($35 per vehicle) is good for 7 days. If you are planning to spend more than just Veteran’s day at the park, you’ll still need to pay for the additional days. Also, keep in mind that while visitor traffic during most of November is typically low, there may be slightly bigger crowds on free admission days such as Veteran’s Day. (However there will still likely be less people than during the busy summer months.)
There are 6 expert tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon November vacation. The Grand Canyon is so spectacular you’ll want to enjoy every moment there. Hopefully these tips will help you do so.
What are your tips for visiting the Grand Canyon in the late fall? If you’ve got any thoughts, click the “contact us” tab and send us a note–we’d love to hear from you!
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