Greetings from Grand Canyon National Park

We’re a family of four from South Carolina that includes a son in fourth grade and a daughter in college. A tradition of ours is to take at least one vacation each year to a national park. For Christmas 2021, we planned to visit Grand Canyon National Park and Saguaro National Park, after a family Christmas in California. I do most of the planning for the national park vacations, and before any visit, I monitor the weather and other factors that might derail the experience. I notice that the weather at the Grand Canyon is starting to look iffy.

As we’re preparing to leave California for Arizona, I overhear a relative asking my wife, “So why are you visiting the Grand Canyon at Christmas? I can understand going to Tucson. Tucson might be warm.”

I worry: What if the Grand Canyon is just socked in with clouds the whole time? Will the kids have fun? I decide to trust my instincts. The Grand Canyon never disappoints.

We arrive late afternoon to partly cloudy skies and perfect views of the canyon. There are patches of snow here and there on the rim, but none in the canyon.

The next day is a day of rim hiking and ever-changing cloud and light. At one point, my daughter and I are browsing in Lookout Studio when she exclaims and hurries outside because sunlight has burst through the clouds and suddenly canyon walls have gone from dark to sunlit clarity. We rush to find the rest of the family to make sure they see this.

The next day brings a winter weather storm warning and snow. It’s a day of rolling in the snow, throwing snowballs, and hot cocoa. At times there is no canyon to see, then the clouds will lift. The train visitors bemoan the fact that there is no canyon to see during their short time at the canyon. For us, we know it’s just a phase.

The next morning (on our day of departure), we awake to partly cloudy skies and canyon walls (down to Indian Garden) covered in fresh snow. I’m ecstatic: fresh snow blanketing canyon walls. We all take in the view. It’s a satisfying end to our visit to Grand Canyon. I can’t believe how it all came together. It felt like once in a lifetime. But as I’m sitting here writing this, I realize that every one of our national park visits holds that place in our memories.


Grand Canyon National Park

America’s Southwest is full of breathtaking canyons, but none as famous or as widely visited as the Grand Canyon. This world-famous landmark offers wondrous views, spectacular hiking, exhilarating whitewater rafting and countless adventures. One look across the enormous chasm confirms just why this inspirational place is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a must-see destination for so many travelers. The park also protects a wealth of biological diversity, including numerous endemic and threatened species and several rare ecosystems.

State(s): Arizona

Established: 1919

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