Visiting the Grand Canyon in November (Updated for 2021)
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. With fewer crowds throughout the park, travelers who enjoy a bit more solitude will really appreciate 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 few 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 or backpack without hordes of tourist is well worth a bit of uncertainty.
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Go for a hike
Hiking the canyon in November is as good as it gets! 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 this time of year. 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 hiking or backpacking 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), however, remains open until the first big snowstorm or until November 30th, whichever comes first. This means that for much of November 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 and offers great off-season rates.
If the weather turns wintery, head back down to Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry to check out the Colorado River and the beginning of Grand Canyon. There are other great year-round lodging and restaurant options at nearby Cliff Dwellers Lodge and Vermillion Cliffs Lodge as well.
Check out the view
Everyone who visits Grand Canyon National Park wants to see an amazing view and you’ll find one no matter where you are. Although it’s nice sharing an awesome vista with your friends and family, huge summer crowds 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 to in the comfort of your own car. Instead of trying to find out what other people say the best view is, check out all of them 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 park’s free shuttle and head to Hermits Rest. There are multiple scenic stops and an easy trail that parallels the road with numerous vistas to take in along the way. You can also head to Bright Angel bikes and rent a bike to cruise along Hermit Road instead. Hermit 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 and the rim is blanketed in a fresh dusting of snow, get a photo! If it’s just plain nasty, get inside. The El Tovar, Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio, Yavapai Geology Museum and Desert View Watchtower have amazing indoor canyon views as well as some cool art, exhibits, souvenirs and, in the El Tovar, some good drinks too. The Grand Canyon Imax in Tusayan (right outside the park) is also a warm and comfortable way to see the canyon, especially if winter weather is making it hard to get the epic real-life views you were hoping for.
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, and you will be taking off layers in no time as you hike down into the canyon. If you’re up for a hike to the bottom of the canyon, see if there’s space for camping or lodging at Phantom Ranch. If you’re interested in doing something a bit more mellow drive across the picturesque Painted Desert of the Navajo Nation to Lees Ferry. This is where Grand Canyon National Park starts and Vermillion Cliffs and Marble Canyon are great places to explore with a warmer landscape that is very different from the rest of the canyon.
Something to be thankful for
While a lot of people couldn't imagine Thanksgiving away from home, for others there is nothing more magical than experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime holiday at Grand Canyon. The amazing thing is you can experience all the comforts of home (think home cooked turkey meals) while spending the day exploring and hiking too.
The South Rim hotels are fully prepared for a festive holiday so book a room to wake up in cozy comfort before setting out for the day. Grab breakfast and then explore the South Rim either on foot or using the free shuttle buses to cover even more ground. For dinner, make sure to get a reservation for the world-famous El Tovar Thanksgiving dinner. Dress up and enter the beautiful dining room with fireplaces aglow to experience truly gourmet meals cooked with the comfort of home - a great menu is served with everything from turkey and stuffing to lamb to some southeastern takes on traditional Thanksgiving foods. Can’t get a Thanksgiving reservation at El Tovar for dinner? The Bright Angel Lodge Arizona Room restaurant also serves a tasty first-come-first-serve Thanksgiving feast that will leave you happy and thankful.
Up for a big holiday adventure? Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of Grand Canyon, also serves a festive Thanksgiving meal for those lucky enough to book a cabin over the holiday. They even offer some extra reservations for campers staying in Bright Angel Campground as well. After a tiring hike or mule ride to the bottom of the canyon, there’s nothing better than heading over to the canteen for the perfect mix of holiday comfort foods. Between the scenery and the meal, a Phantom Ranch Thanksgiving will certainly rank as one of the most satisfying holiday meals you ever have!
Our last tip for a great Grand Canyon Thanksgiving? Bring your loved ones along as well! Friends and family will love spending a holiday at the canyon with outdoor activities and fun festivities for everyone. Grand Canyon’s visitor centers are even open on Thanksgiving so feel free to stop by and wish happy holidays to the rangers on duty, too!
Guru Tips to Plan Your November Trip
There are even more ways to enjoy Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding area throughout November. Grand Canyon is a great destination any time of the year, but November offers a unique window for weather, activities, and solitude that make it one of our favorite months!
Reserve your hotel or campground in advance
- Lodging in Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding areas can book up more than a year in advance and November is a fairly popular month. Check out our hotels page to learn more about Grand Canyon hotel and lodging options.
- To make reservations for lodging our favorite site is Hotels Combined, because they offer a great selection of hotels (including hotels right along the rim of the canyon!) and good prices from a number of different booking sites. Check rates and availability for Grand Canyon lodging here.
- For car camping reservations at the canyon and other nearby parks go to recreation.gov
Book a tour or ticket before you get to the canyon
- A guided tour is a great way to really experience the Grand Canyon and having a reservation means you won't have to worry about finding activities when your on vacation.
- For the largest selection of Grand Canyon tours, our favorite booking site is Viator. You can find current rates and availability here.
- We also love to use Get Your Guide for tours at the Grand Canyon because of their easy to use site and great options for tickets and attractions at nearby parks.
- Both of these sites have a great selection of tours and usually have the best cancellation policies if you need to make a change or cancel a tour.
- If you want to learn more about all of the amazing tours available at the canyon check out our Grand Canyon Tours page.
Get geared up
- Make sure you have the right gear for your trip before you travel since there’s not a ton of options at the park.
- We’re definitely gear junkies here at the Grand Canyon Guru and Patagonia is hands down our favorite for canyon-ready clothing and travel bags.
- For everything from sunglasses to trekking poles we love Moosejaw and they have great prices and frequent sales.
- Staying hydrated is really important at the Grand Canyon and so is your morning coffee. We love Hydroflask for all of our hydration and caffeine needs.
More resources for your vacation
- It always a good idea to have travel insurance for your trip. When we travel in the Grand Canyon area and around the world, we use World Nomads.
- Use our free trip planning tools to plan the ultimate adventure.
- Get maps and guides for the canyon. Cell service doesn’t always work and these are great tools to help plan your trip as well.