Visiting the Grand Canyon in May is a magical time. May is a peaceful time to visit but the crowds are starting to arrive especially toward the end of the month.
I’ve included all of the things to do in the Grand Canyon in May and tips and tricks for visiting. You can also use the Grand Canyon self guided tour to learn more about the Grand Canyon when you visit.
Weather in the Grand Canyon in May
In May, the daytime maximum temperature is 74 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), while the overnight minimum is 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degree Celsius). The Grand Canyon covers a huge area and each section has a varied temperature.
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National Park Entrance Fees
To enter the National Parks, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee or have a National Parks Pass also known as American the Beautiful Pass.
I purchased my first one in 2016 and it’s such a money-saver! Plus 10% of sale proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.
Tips for Visiting Grand Teton National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. There is something for everyone on this list and for different fitness levels. Also, note that it is dry and hot (in the summer), and make sure you know what you are getting into before you start. Here are a few tips for visiting the Grand Canyon:
- Bring a reusable water bottle and lots of water! Remember you are in the sun and you will need to drink lots of water. I love my LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle. I can refill this bottle anywhere and it comes with a carabiner to connect it to my daypack.
- Check the Weather – days over 100 degrees are very common. Make sure to check.
- Hiking boots or sandals that will protect your feet! I love good shoes. I need all the support and help I can get. I actually love these sandals for hiking and also love these hiking boots.
- Bring hiking poles for balance and to protect your knees. I know many experienced hikers (and even amateur ones) think that hiking poles are for old people who lose their balance. Actually, hiking poles can help when going down steep inclines or when scrambling over rocks. They are great to hike with even for the most experienced hiker.
- Wear a sunhat. I feel like this whole post is about how high you are in the mountains and how much closer you are to the sun but it is so true. At elevation, you are closer to the sun and more likely to burn. Wear sun protection such as a sun hat and sunscreen.
- Be aware of the wildlife. This is the Southwest and you will need to watch out for snakes and other wildlife such as moose or a bear. Please stay away from wildlife and do not feed them. I recommend carrying bear spray as well.
- Start Early – If you want to avoid the traffic and the heat you will need to start your hike early. That way it will be nice and cool and the smog will not affect you either.
- Leave no trace. If you are new to the concept of Leave No Trace it is all about preserving the environment to ensure it is in the same or better condition when you leave it. This means that you should stick to the trails and carry out everything that you carried in. This is a great explanation of the Leave No Trace principles!
- Water shoes are great for water hikes– If you don’t have a pair, I highly suggest it as they are affordable. I have an article on the pros and cons of several pairs of water shoes.
- Bring Bug Spray and a snack: Be sure to bring everything you need including a snack like a protein bar plus BUG SPRAY.
Where to stay near Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon makes for a great weekend escape. Fresh air, beautiful scenery and being in nature does a world of good for the soul. I recommend staying as close to the park as possible and even treating yourself with a cabin with a spa pool to relax at night.
- There are lots of fantastic Airbnbs near the Grand Canyon. I have made a list of the best airbnbs around the park wherever you decide to stay. You can also check out my post on Where to Stay near the Grand Canyon to find the perfect hotel for any budget.
If you are taking a road trip remember to reserve a car in advance using Discover Cars .
15 Things to do in the Grand Canyon in May
Grand Canyon South Rim: Self-Guided Tour
See a natural wonder of the world in person on this self-guided driving tour of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
This self-guided driving tour takes you to all the best vistas, hikes, and attractions along Grand Canyon’s South Rim and tells you the secret history behind this famous landscape. Walk the scenic South Rim Trail, catch a sunset at Mather Point, and much more.
Make sure you don’t ignore the remainder of the South Rim, even if the Grand Canyon Village has a lot to offer visitors.
One of the best ways to explore the South Rim’s most renowned attractions and perspectives is by taking the Rim Trail, one of the Grand Canyon’s most well-known and extensive routes. The edge of the canyon is traced by this relatively simple (mainly paved) walking path, which makes stops at popular lookouts such as Maricopa Point and Hopi Point.
The South Kaibab Trailhead (a few miles east of Grand Canyon Settlement) serves as the starting point of the Rim Trail, which ends at the well-known Hermit’s Rest vantage point west of the village. The Rim Trail is around 12 kilometers long in all.
Fortunately for travelers, the park’s free shuttle bus operates along a paved road along the path, allowing for easy access to the village and points along the way.
You will appreciate the variety on offer along the trail, which includes bustling tourist areas and more secluded stretches where you may disconnect from nature. Additionally, it is crowded on the east side near the lodging, dining, and gift shops, but as you move west, the crowds will clear away.
The trail’s accessibility, which is largely accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, will also amaze you. Remember that the only liquids you may purchase are water at Grand Canyon Village, Yavapai Point, and Hermit’s Rest, so bring some with you to stay hydrated. With the park entrance, you have free access to the trail.
The Grand Canyon is often first seen by visitors from Mather Point on the South Rim.
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center can be reached in only five minutes on foot. If you don’t mind navigating some crowds, the overlook offers magnificent views of the craggy cliffs and trails below. Under perfect weather conditions, visibility is greater than 30 miles to the east and 60 miles to the west. Another well-liked location for viewing the sunrise and sunset across the canyon is Mather Point.
Recent visitors gushed over Mather Point, complementing its simple accessibility and breathtaking vistas. They also mentioned how close it is to the visitor center’s cafe and facilities. Although it is very difficult to avoid crowds, some reviewers recommended coming outside of the peak times around sunrise and dusk for significantly smaller crowds.
Even though Mather Point does not have a parking area, parking lots one through four next to the visitor center are easily accessible by foot from Mather Point. Furthermore, it serves as a stop for the Kaibab/Rim (Orange) shuttle. Wheelchair-accessible and open all year round, Mather Point is open 24/7.
Helicopter Ride down into the Grand Canyon
At the Grand Canyon, helicopter tours are accessible all year long. You should experience the vistas of the canyon covered with snow in December.
Even though there are many excursions available, the Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour is among the best. During the 45-minute flight, you will fly over the South Rim and the Kaibab National Forest.
Experience the canyons by looking down into them on a helicopter tour or simply viewing them from a vantage point.
These helicopter rides, though perhaps a bit pricy, are well worth it and will provide you with priceless memories.
Experience the Spirit Helicopter Tour if you want to make this a trip you’ll never forget. The most popular and affordable helicopter tour leaving from the South Rim is this one.
The Spirit Tour, which flies over the Painted Desert, Kaibab National Forest, and—best of all—the Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest section of the Grand Canyon, gives you some of the be
The 12-mile roundtrip Plateau Point trail is a tough hike. The stunning views of the inner canyon, however, make all the effort worthwhile once at the viewpoint.
This trail is the best option for anyone looking for a strenuous day hike with breathtaking scenery along the entire route and deep canyon access without going all the way down.
Due to the length of the hike, it is strongly advised to start before sunrise to avoid finishing in the dark, which isn’t ideal.
On the western side of Grand Canyon Village, near the Bright Angel Trailhead, is where the Plateau Point Trail begins. Furthermore, due to the difficulty of the hike, it is advised that you stop at each rest area to relax and take in the breathtaking views.
Enjoy the stunning inner canyon views and the tranquility it gives once you get to the point. Due to the difficulty of the hike, this area is typically devoid of other visitors and hikers.
South Kaibab Trail
The 7-mile South Kaibab Trail also starts at the South Rim, just like the North Kaibab Trail does at the North Rim.
You can hike the path down to the Colorado River from the trail’s entrance, which is close to Yaki Point. The National Park Service advises returning up the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail instead since there is no access to drinking water on this trail and it is relatively steep.
Before hiking the South Kaibab, make a plan. Bring hiking poles, at least two quarts of water, and some snacks. Since there isn’t much shade on this trail, it’s also a good idea to wear sunscreen and a hat. If you’re up for the task, you’ll be rewarded with stunning canyon views and perhaps even the chance to spot some animals, including sheep and birds.
The South Kaibab Trailhead is serviced by the Hiker’s Express and Kaibab/Rim shuttle bus services, and mules are also available for rides on this trail.
Bright Angel Trail
Take this arduous trail to Plateau Point in Grand Canyon Village for some fantastic views of the Colorado River. It starts just west of the Bright Angel Lodge.
Keep in mind that the Bright Angel Trail is just over 6 miles long in one direction, so making the trip to the river and back in one day is not advised. If you intend to travel the entire distance to Plateau Point, pack camping equipment and bring lots of water, as several rest spots along the trail only provide water during certain times of the year.
Consider riding mules down the Bright Angel Trail for a special Grand Canyon experience. With a break for lunch at Indian Garden, riders are driven to Phantom Ranch for an overnight stay. Despite being generally safe, some people may find the ride to be taxing since they are not used to sitting for long periods.
Desert View Watchtower
The Desert View Watchtower was built in 1932 by famed southwest architect Mary Colter on top of a cliff using rough stones to fit in with the canyon and resemble early Puebloan structures.
The Kiva Room, a gallery of Hopi artwork, a rest room, a store, and views of the canyon are all located inside the tower. The top floor of the building offers panoramic views that may be seen for up to 100 miles, as well as views of the North Rim and the Colorado River.
On your trip to the Grand Canyon, the views from the tower’s summit are among the best. You will also appreciate the tower’s elaborate design. The building is also well-maintained, and the tribal art is fascinating and lovely.
The Desert View Watchtower, which is on the South Rim, offers free admission, and its ground-floor store is open starting at nine in the morning. to 5 p.m. daily. About 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village is where you’ll find the tower.
Grand Canyon Railway
Originally used to transport ore from the Anita mines, which are located just north of Williams, Arizona, this historic railroad was constructed in the late 1800s.
In 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway Service started, opening up public access to the canyon. The Grand Canyon Depot witnessed its final passenger train in 1968 as a result of the rise in automobile usage, which reduced demand for trains. After considerable repairs, the Grand Canyon Railway reopened in 1989.
This famous train still runs passenger service between Williams and the Grand Canyon Depot on the South Rim. Passengers will pass through a variety of scenery along the trip, including forests of Ponderosa and Pinion pines, vast prairies, and, of course, canyons.
Most recent travelers remark on the breathtaking scenery and the amusing and educational train guides who regaled them with tales of the trains and the area’s history.
At 9:30 a.m., the train leaves Williams. Every day, it departs from Grand Canyon Village at approximately 11:45 a.m. At 3:30 pm, the village’s return shuttles depart. then return to Williams at about 5:45 p.m.
Grand Canyon IMAX Theater
Visit the Grand Canyon IMAX Theater if you want to take a break from hiking and sightseeing or if you just need a little respite from the summer heat. The theater, which is a part of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, frequently screens “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets” throughout the day.
The 34-minute movie, which is shown on a six-story movie screen, immerses viewers in an action-packed journey with gorgeous shots of the Colorado River and panoramic perspectives of the canyon below. Travelers are guaranteed to leave with a better understanding of this natural wonder than when they arrived since the film also explores the Grand Canyon’s history.
Make this the first stop on your Grand Canyon vacation to catch this must-see movie and learn more about the national park before visiting it in person. Both the on-site gift shop and the snack bar outside the theater are enjoyable as well.
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center opens at nine in the morning. to 7 p.m. 365 days a year, the movie is shown in the IMAX cinema every hour and a half, starting at 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The price of admission is roughly $14 for individuals, $10 for children ages 6 to 10, and $12.50 for seniors and members of the armed forces. All children under the age of five are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.
Tickets can be bought at the theater or in advance online for a 20% discount. There are 488 seats in the theater, plus eight more for those in wheelchairs. For travelers who don’t speak English, translation headphones are available.
Tusayan and Museum Ruin
Just three miles west of Desert View Drive is the Tusayan Museum and Ruin, one of the most significant archaeological finds in Arizona.
According to numerous historians, human civilization has been in the area of the Grand Canyon for about 12,000 years. As a result, there are numerous archaeological relics in the area that need to be found and preserved.
The purpose of the Tusayan Museum is to inform visitors about the region’s lengthy history and all the various ancient, distinctive civilizations that formerly called it home. The ruins themselves house the remains of a Pueblo village that are said to have existed for more than 800 years.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a large, semi-circular bridge with a transparent glass floor that allows visitors to walk out 70 feet over the canyon and view the bottom from 4,000 feet above. It is one of the more divisive additions to the Grand Canyon’s surroundings.
The Hualapai Indian Tribe’s property houses the Skywalk, which is located away from the park. When the Skywalk was first built, purists objected, saying it destroyed the area’s natural attractiveness. Nevertheless, since its debut in 2007, the attraction has drawn thousands of visitors.
Visitors need to purchase a package to enter the Hualapai Indian Reserve. Starting at $59 per person, the cheapest package that includes the Skywalk also includes general entry. The cost of a package that includes lunch starts at $78 per person.
The Skywalk is accessible all year round; starting on May 1 through mid-October, it is open at 7 a.m. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from mid-October to mid-April. to 4:30 p.m. The best Grand Canyon helicopter tours stop here frequently.
Colorado River Rafting
Consider going rafting down the Colorado River to see the Grand Canyon from a fresh perspective. Choose a float trip through Glen Canyon with a company like Advantage Grand Canyon for a fun experience that the whole family will enjoy. Glen Canyon is located about 75 miles northeast of the Grand Canyon.
Join the Hualapai River Runners if you want a challenging day of adventure. Between Diamond Creek and Lake Mead, in the westernmost section of the canyon where the river is rougher, this company transports passengers.
You can try tour operators like OARS, Canyon Explorations/Expeditions, and Outdoors Unlimited, which all offer multiday rafting adventures. You must, however, be proficient in rafting and paddling because these businesses only provide oar and paddle boat tours. Wilderness River Adventures provides motorized raft experiences for anyone who would prefer not to row or paddle themselves.
Whatever journey you go on, don’t forget to bring a change of clothes, water, and sunscreen. The company and the type of rafting activity offered to determine the schedules and prices.
North Kaibab Trail
The North Kaibab Trail is the perfect hike in the area if you’ve decided to explore the North Rim. The Colorado River is reached by way of the 14-mile (one-way) path.
Instead of walking the trail in the heat of the summer, you might prefer to do so in the spring or fall, when you can take in some of the park’s best views without the oppressive heat. The tourist-friendly South Rim is where you should stay if you’re new to hiking and camping. But from May to October, you can still go on a guided, mule-drawn trek through this trail if you want to avoid the crowds.
Ribbon Falls, the Coconino Overlook, and the Pumphouse Residence are popular rest areas (the former home of artist and park worker Bruce Aiken). Try the Supai Tunnel, a 4-mile round-trip climb that begins at the North Kaibab trailhead, if you want a shorter hike along the North Kaibab.
The Trans-Canyon Shuttle, which costs $90 to go between the South and North Rims, or one’s vehicle are both choices for getting to the North Kaibab Trail. Along the path, there are two campgrounds: Cottonwood and Bright Angel.
Previous hikers advised splitting the trip into two days and setting up camp at one of the campgrounds if you wanted to take your time along the trail.
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