The most romantic time to visit the South Rim is during the winter, when crowds are lighter, sunrises are later, and frosty temperatures make snuggling by a fireplace even more fun. This Grand Canyon itinerary is sure to set the mood for an intimate 3-day getaway.
Check into elegant El Tovar or a cozy cabin at Bright Angel Lodge. Some of the cabins have fireplaces or canyon views. If you want to impress your sweetie with a romantic dinner, make reservations in advance for El Tovar’s candlelit dining room.
After breakfast, pick up a picnic lunch at the General Store deli and spend a few hours exploring the overlooks along the West Rim’s Hermit Road. Hike the Rim Trail from Pima Point to Hermits Rest (1.1 miles), where you can warm up with some hot chocolate. Rumor has it that Mary Colter, the architect of this fanciful structure, liked to steal away for a few moments of solitude along the rim close by. See if you can find her special perch or, if it’s not too icy, hike a short distance down nearby Hermit Trail.
Winter sunsets arrive early and paint the canyon walls in glowing orange, pink, and lavender. Hopi Point is popular at sunset; opt for Pima or Mohave Points if you’d prefer to avoid a crowd. After watching the celestial show, return to the village and warm up by your cabin’s fireplace. No fireplace of your own? There’s usually a blaze going in El Tovar’s Rendezvous Room, and the lounge is a cozy spot for a warm drink.
The Shrine of the Ages hosts occasional evening programs in winter. But the most awe-inspiring show is outdoors: On dark, clear nights millions of diamond-bright stars will take your breath away. Pick up a star map at one of the park’s shops or use a stargazing phone app. If you bundle up and bring a flashlight, you can view the night sky almost anywhere, but the amphitheater at Mather Point has front-row seats.
Sunrise or sleep in? If you decide to greet the dawn from somewhere other than your window, grab a coffee at the Canyon Coffee House in Bright Angel Lodge, and then hop the shuttle to Yaki Point. Watch as buttery golden sunlight spreads over the canyon’s inner peaks.
Return to the village for a hearty brunch, and then stroll along the rim to Hopi House, designed by architect Mary Colter in 1905. Inside this historic structure is the canyon’s finest collection of Native American jewelry, perfect if you want a memento of your special weekend.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the East Rim by car. Watch the sunset from Lipan Point or Desert View Watchtower, another of Mary Colter’s romanticized re-creations. To the west, inner canyon temples and buttes fade to layered silhouettes in blues and purples—a dramatic finale to the weekend.
Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Grand Canyon.