Thank you for continuing to follow our series, “Hiking the National Grand Canyon in Winter”. To date, we have covered what supplies are needed to safely hike the national park, some basic information on hypothermia, and South Rim trail conditions during the winter months. This week, you will learn about the average weather and environmental conditions of the most popular trails that are part of the North Rim. In this highly mountainous environment, you are likely to experience a larger amount of obstacles, dangers, and severe weather conditions. The average heights in which you will be traveling include 8,000 feet. You must ensure that you are properly prepared for high levels of ice and immense depths of snow. Essentially, the North Rim region is the most dangerous of all locations for winter hiking in the National Grand Canyon.
North Kaibab Trail
This particular trail in the North Rim is typically closed by the middle of October; however, you may cross the South Rim by foot or ski to the trail from the Jacob Lake region. You should know that, in the winter, this trail head is considered to be extremely isolated and extremely dangerous. The good news is, this is a corridor trail. This means that it is regularly maintained and patrolled by rangers. Be careful to situations such as rockfalls, wildlife encounters, and losing your footing in this area.
North Rim Yurt
The most popular destination for winter hikers in the North Rim of the National Grand Canyon is the North Rim Yurt. Here, you will find that it is just about 10 minutes from the ever-popular North Kaibab Trail. In order to visit this region, you must obtain a special permit from the Backcountry Information Center. While this is very beautiful during the winter months and offers many accommodations, it is also considered to be extremely isolated. You must be prepared for extremely cold temperatures, a lot of ice, and very deep snow.
If you elect to visit one of the North Rim trails during the winter, you will need to do so with an assortment of special items. First, you should ensure that you avoid wearing clothing composed of cotton or any type of jean material. These materials will actually hold moisture in and could result in hypothermia. It is best to wear clothing, socks, and other pieces that are composed of a merino wool blend, polar fleece, and/or down. Additionally, all items that you wear and bring along should be waterproof. Gloves, hats, and boots that are designed for hiking are also recommended when hiking in this area. Now that you have read through all 4 parts of this series, you are ready to explore the National Grand Canyon by foot during the winter months. If you lack experience in hiking in the cold season, you should hire a professional trail guide to assist you; otherwise, you should opt for another means of exploring the area, such as a Grand Canyon helicopter tour.