January 2019 – Even though we have a new Polaris RZR waiting to take us on lots of exciting back road adventures, we’ve had a hankering to do a National Parks Snowstorm Tour for several years now. Our snowy day trip to Jerome a few weeks ago further whetted our appetites, so this week when a blizzard was predicted for the Grand Canyon, we hit the road!
We drove up from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona, and when we got there we had to laugh at all the signs by the road advertising hats and gloves. Desert dwellers love to go to Flagstaff to see snow in the wintertime, and sometimes they forget their winter duds (or don’t even own any!).
Snow had been in the forecast for Grand Canyon, but we saw only dustings and flurries until we climbed the last few miles to Grand Canyon’s South Rim about 75 miles north of Flagstaff. Then it began to snow hard, as it had been doing there for the last 24 hours.
It was a little difficult to tell what was where under all the snow!
But much to our surprise, despite the snow, Grand Canyon National Park was hopping. Cars zipped here and there, the shuttle buses from the hotels to the rim were packed, and as usual, the languages we heard around us were from all over the world.
Exhilarated, we bundled up and hustled out to the closest overlook we could find on the Rim Trail.
What a shock it was to find that fog filled the entire Grand Canyon! We could barely see from one overlook to the next, never mind across the whole Grand Canyon to the other side 10 miles away.
Nevertheless, tourists slipped and slid down the icy trails and out onto the overlooks to see what they could see — which was nothing!
Despite the lack of a real Grand Canyon view, the fresh snow was beautiful and gave the Canyon a mystique we don’t often see.
The fog blew in and out and the snow began to fall harder and harder. A woman standing next to me wondered why I was hanging over the edge taking photos.
This was her first trip to the Grand Canyon, and although the snow and mist was lovely, she was really disappointed not to see the real view. “What does it usually look like?” She asked forlornly.
If only she’d been able to stay another day. When we got to the rim the next day, the snow had stopped falling and sunlight had begun to shine through.
And what an appearance it made. The light show across the canyon was spectacular!
We were blown away, and so was everyone else. A crowd began to form, and the usual dance of tourist antics and selfies began.
We were mesmerized watching the light and shadows chasing each other through the billowing curtains of mist and fog.
Everyone was taking selfies and handing their cameras around, so we joined right in and did the same.
Most of the Grand Canyon overlooks were closed because the road to them hadn’t been plowed. The whole drive to Hermit’s Rest on the west side of the South Rim was closed and the road to Desert View on the east side was closed as well.
So, everyone stayed on the Rim Trail and visited just one or two viewpoints. The funny thing is that even though the total number of tourists at the Grand Canyon was a tiny fraction of what you’d see midsummer, because we were all concentrated in one small area it was still packed!
But it didn’t matter and the makeshift nature of things kind of added to the fun. This was a very special moment to be in this place, and everyone was thrilled to be here.
We all knew the sun would last for only a short while this afternoon because more snow was on its way. So the mood was almost giddy.
We had buzzed up from Phoenix in our truck and left our fifth wheel trailer behind. Even though the trailer camground was open at Grand Canyon and we saw some rigs with snow on their roofs, we’d decided to take a vacation from our vacation and stay in a hotel.
The fantastic thing about the Grand Canyon in the wintertime is that a lot of folks cancel at the last minute when they see snow in the forecast. So rooms were available for 50 cents on the dollar.
If you’re in Arizona for the winter and you want to see something very special, watch the weather forecast at the Grand Canyon and head there when the snow falls!
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More info about Grand Canyon:
- Grand Canyon National Park Official Website
- Grand Canyon Tourist Website
- RV Camping at Grand Canyon
- Where is the the South Rim of the Grand Canyon?
Other blog posts from our RV travels in Northern Arizona:
- Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Magnificent & Intimate by Day or Night! 12/06/16
- What is happening to our Public Lands? 10/02/14
- Petrified Forest NP and Mogollon Rim – Cool pines & hot rocks in AZ! 05/29/12
- Parowan UT, Las Vegas NV, Williams & Sycamore Canyon AZ – Wow! 08/28/11
- Wupatki Nat’l Monument – Ancient Indian Ruins & Great Camping in AZ! 08/25/11
- Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Its Better Half! 07/31/08
- Sunset Crater, AZ – Looks Like it Exploded Yesterday! 06/15/08
Our most recent posts:
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- Black Hills Back Country Byway – Spring Flowers in Arizona! 04/12/19
- Mexican Hat, Utah – A Special Hoodoo in the Red Rocks 04/05/19
- Traces of Antiquity and the Not-So-Ancient in Utah! 03/29/19
- SE Utah – A Mars Colony, Wide-Angle Photography & Snowy Mountains! 03/22/19