Snow is incredibly rare on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. However, it provides a stunning addition to the magnificent landscape. On December 31, Northern Arizona was struck with a rare winter storm. As a result, the Grand Canyon was blanketed in a layer of fresh snow.
I’m pretty sure this is how the movie Ice Age started! http://t.co/myhXveIwgX
— Drew Lowery (@drew_lowery) January 4, 2015
On January 1, the National Park Service announced that the iconic landmark was transformed into “a winter wonderland.” Although the snow was indeed beautiful, it created a hazardous situation on South Rim roads. As reported by Examiner, the National Park Service’s announcement included a grim warning.
“As of 9:15 a.m. the morning of January 1, 2015, all South Rim roads are open – but the roads are really snow-packed and icy – 4 wheel drive or snow chains are recommended.”
As the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 feet deep, the climate is very diverse. The average temperature and precipitation of the inner canyon, North Rim, and South Rim are quite distinct.
As reported by Desert USA, the canyon’s North Rim is approximately 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim. In general, the average temperatures are 10 degrees cooler, and the weather is “particularly unpredictable.”
— Mashable (@mashable) January 3, 2015
Although the North Rim is closed during winter, the South Rim usually remains open to visitors. The weather along the South Rim is generally warmer and more mild — even during the winter months. However, winter storms are not unheard of.
Though rare, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon does experience snow and ice during major winter storms. During harsh weather tourists are advised to “expect snow, icy roads and trails, and possible road closures.” If the roads remain open, “canyon views may be temporarily obscured during winter storms.”
The New Year’s Day storm was specifically rare, as the snow actually reached the floor of the canyon. On their Facebook page, the Grand Canyon National Park service explains that the temperatures must be particularly cold for snow to reach the canyon floor.
As the winter storm eventually passed, and temperatures continued to rise, the Grand Canyon snow quickly melted. However, it did last long enough for visitors and National Park Service workers to take some stunning photos.
[Images via Kid Friendly Travel]