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Weather in the Grand Canyon: Planning

By RaftArizona • February 14, 2021

We are often asked, “What is the weather going to be like on my trip?” It’s honestly one of the most challenging questions for us to answer. Depending on your river trip type, you’ll travel between 89 and 270 miles on the Colorado River over several days through remote national park wilderness. Getting an accurate forecast is not realistic. The possibility for extreme and unpredictable weather makes it important to stick to the packing list in your trip packet. Keep in mind that extreme weather (heat, cold, wind, rain, hail, flash flooding, etc.) can occur at any time with little to no advanced warning.

I blindly followed the instructions for packing and preparing, still not knowing what to expect and man was I glad I did! … We were so glad we brought all the equipment as we were way more likely to end up cold than hot overall – which really surprised us. -Lynne, Saint Louis, MO

I knew I was overpacking a bit with long sleeves and a fleece but it could easily have been a necessity if the weather swung the other way. -Tammy, Alexandria, VA

We recommend packing with the following in mind:

    • 1. It is better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have. -Kafka


    • 2. Pack your fleece, long sleeve shirt, and rain gear even if your forecast looks hot and dry! Mornings can be surprisingly cold. Worst case scenario: You have perfect weather and they stay at the bottom of your bag.


    • 3. You don’t need much, you just need the right stuff. – prior ARR guest


    • 4. Bring clothing items that can serve multiple purposes. For example, a long sleeve shirt can keep you warm as a layer and can also keep you cool by drenching it in the cold river water.


    • 5. Packing layers is essential all year long! Temperatures in the canyon can change quickly and dramatically—regardless of what the forecast says. Layering is key to managing body temperature. Expect to layer up and layer down as needed throughout each day.

Remember: there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices! To get an idea of what the weather may be like on your trip and tips on how to manage extreme weather check out the links below.

April: 82 (high) – 56 (low) °F
May: 92 (high) – 63 (low) °F
June: 101 (high) – 72 (low) °F
July: 106 (high) – 78 (low) °F
August: 103 (high) – 75 (low) °F
Sept.: 97 (high) – 69 (low) °F
Oct.: 84 (high) – 58 (low) °F

For trips starting at the Bar 10 Ranch:

These links take you to point forecasts close to where you’ll be on your trip. The Bar 10 Ranch is about 5,000 feet above sea level, so it’s often cooler there than on the river. For the rafting portion of your trip, you’ll be down in the canyon at a lower elevation where temperatures are typically warmer.

For guests on trips 6 days or longer:

Phantom Ranch is the only weather station at river level in the Grand Canyon.  Please note that looking up the forecast for Grand Canyon will show weather for the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which is very different from the weather on the river. There is a 4,800 ft difference in elevation, which can mean the difference between snow on the rim and rain on the river.

Forecast looking hot and dry? Check out our hot weather tips.

Looking cold and rainy? Here are a few cold weather tips to help you prepare.

Regardless of the forecast, we recommend following the packing list so you will be prepared to have a good time no matter the weather! We look forward to seeing you on the river!

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