When looking at the numbers, Arizona temperatures may seem higher than where you’re traveling from, but the cliche is true, it really is a dry heat. The humidity is usually less than 20 percent, so the heat can feel less stifling. Grand Canyon lends to a more comfortable camping environment thanks to the towering canyon walls that often provide shade in the morning and afternoon, the large flux in temperatures from day into night, and the lack of flying bugs and mosquitoes. Sleeping out under the sea of stars is a highlight of the trip for most of our guests.
As we all know though, the weather is unpredictable. One of the most difficult questions that comes our way is “what’s the weather going to be like?” While we can’t answer that perfectly, we can help you prepare for weather surprises.
The canyon is a vast area containing many different climate zones. It could be pouring down rain at Lees Ferry and sunny and hot at Diamond Creek, some 225 river miles away. Or, snowing at the South Rim, and nearly 4,400 feet below, pleasantly warm on the river. This makes it tough to give a truly accurate forecast for a multi-day river trip that moves downstream daily.
To get the best idea of what you can expect, check the weather report at Phantom Ranch within a week of your trip launch. This gauge is located at river-level about halfway through the canyon.
In general, you can expect our early and late season trips (April/May and September/October) to be mild with a chance of a winter storm. Often, this is a great time of year to explore the hidden gems that are not accessible during the heat of summer. As there is always a possibility of an atypical winter storm, please be sure to review the trip info packet. There you’ll find an early/late season packing section. The packing list has been curated over many decades of river running, so stick to it. A mantra we go by is “it is better to have and not need than to need and not have”. Temperatures could be A LOT cooler than average if a storm rolls through. Keep in mind that being splashed by cold river water will make daytime temperatures feel much cooler!
June is considered our sunniest and can feel like the hottest part of the season. The high temperatures pair well with the crisp Colorado River. The river is ALWAYS cold — about 50 degrees Fahrenheit — and you WILL be getting wet on Grand Canyon whitewater raft trips. Never leave your rain gear behind!
The season between June and September is typically defined by afternoon cloud cover which helps cool things down just a tad. The typical pattern of the season brings rain and thunderstorms in the afternoons which can be exciting and really beautiful.
September and October are often pleasant, and again, you’ll need to be prepared for any early winter storms that may roll through.
Where you set up camp at night has an effect on the night temperature. Near the river is cooler than closer to the canyon walls which give off heat collected during the day. Truthfully, the weather is seldom an issue with our guests.
If the forecast looks cooler and rainy, take a look at our additional cold weather tips.
If the forecast is looking hot and dry, take a look at our additional hot weather tips.
April May June July August September October
Avg. high 82 92 101 106 103 97 84
Avg. low 56 63 72 78 75 69 58