We are often asked, “What is the weather going to be like on my trip?” While it’s tough to answer this question perfectly, we can help you prepare. 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.
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. 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.
When looking at the numbers, Arizona temperatures may seem high, but the cliché 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.
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.
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 chilly—about 55-65 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.
September and October are often pleasant, and again, you’ll need to be prepared for any early winter storms that may roll through.
April: 82 (high) – 56 (low)
May: 92 (high) – 63 (low)
June: 101 (high) – 72 (low)
July: 106 (high) – 78 (low)
August: 103 (high) – 75 (low)
Sept.: 97 (high) – 69 (low)
Oct.: 84 (high) – 58 (low)
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.
It is important to stick to the packing list located in your trip info packet. Here’s why:
- It is better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.
- Mornings can be surprisingly cold. Pack your fleece, long sleeve shirt, and rain gear even if your forecast looks hot and dry! Best case scenario: your warmest layers stay at the bottom of your bag the entire trip.
- You don’t need much, just the right stuff. 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.
- 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.