Wintertime will soon be upon us. So, if you have an upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon, you'll want to bundle up. For the most part, days are clear and crisp, but at times it can be downright cold.
Of course, 'cold' is relative. You can expect the day time highs to get into the 60s. Temperatures can dip into freezing at night, although that is pretty rare.
Even though temps may climb into the 60s during the day, you want to wear appropriate attire. If you plan to head out of Vegas for the South Rim, leave your shorts and sandals at your hotel. Not wearing enough clothes to stay warm will really ruin your tour.
Instead, heed what you read when it comes to 10-day weather forecasts, and error on the conservative side of things. Of course, your chopper will be nice and warm inside, but once you depart from it, you will be too chilly if under dressed, so it is best to be prepared.
Your preparations depend on which rim you want to tour. The South Rim is the colder one since it sits at 7000 feet and it occasionally gets snow.
In addition to dressing to stay warm, you want to dress for comfort. You can follow my lead and dress in layers. That means a t-shirt, a sweater and a light or middleweight jacket depending on the rim I'm going to visit that day. I'm also bringing gloves, a hat, sunglasses and lip balm. You can bring along a scarf too if you like.
You want to avoid wearing sandals on these air tours. That might work for you in Las Vegas (barely), but you just might rue the day when you check in and make the trek to the helicopter that will fly you to the National Park. The real moment, however, comes when you land and exit the aircraft, which will be either the bottom or top of the West Rim.
In case you didn't know, you can't take a chopper from Vegas to the South Rim. It's just too far. That doesn't have to stop you from going to the South Rim though because you can go by bus or plane. It takes about 5 ? hours to get there by bus. The airplane takes all of 60 minutes. I think you can probably tell which option I'm going with (the airplane).
You will enjoy climate control on airplanes too. Not as toasty, but comfortable. It's when you deplane at Tusayan, home of Grand Canyon National Park Airport, that you suck it up and enter a climate that's nothing like Vegas'. And it's here where I recommend you consider packing a nice, tidy pair of pull-on ice cleats, as there could be ice at some of the major lookouts.
Ice At Mather Point
Mather Point is located at the South Rim and I was there last winter. There were icy patches everywhere. Even though park workers keep the icy areas salted, you will be a lot safer if you wear cleats. Cleats give such great traction, you'll walk as easily as if you were on the beach. So that isn't the ideal comparison but you get my point!
I hope you are a little better prepared for winter air tours of the Grand Canyon. Just keep in mind temperatures are much different between the West Rim and the South. The South Rim is cold and you may get into snow and ice, while the West Rim is chilly and quite windy. As for taking a heli, good decision. These aircraft are an excellent way to get up close and personal with the canyon, and I'm confident you'll feel as enthusiastic about them as I do after you are back on terra firma.