Isolation on the South Rim
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Most of the five million visitors hoarding to the Grand Canyon every year are fair-weather fans. Visitor numbers dwindle to around 200,000 in the month of January. That means on any given day, you will be hard-pressed to find 50 other vehicles in the whole park. On the way in, be sure to drive Hermit Road. The scenic Rim-tracing drive is only available to private vehicles in December, January, and February. “Hermit Road is kept plowed throughout the season and is open to visitors to drive themselves since the shuttle does not run during the winter,” says park ranger A.J. Lapre. Winter is also the only time you can hike Bright Angel trail on the South Rim without anyone there to block the iconic views. Enjoy the rare solitude while the morning clouds burn off in the afternoon southwestern sun among the snow-dusted buttes and canyon walls.
Fly: Landing at Flagstaff’s small airport or charting a plane directly to the Grand Canyon Airport, are the most convenient (and expensive) options. Phoenix, however, is your most reasonable bet. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has the best fares and is a three and a half hour drive from the South Rim.
Stay: Winter rates at the Grand Canyon National Park's Maswik Lodge South start at $89 per night. [grandcanyonlodges.com]