Road conditions between LA and the Grand Canyon this week
November 20, 2011 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to go on a short, last-minute trip to the Grand Canyon this week. If I drive from Los Angeles on Tuesday morning and drive back on Thursday morning, can I expect snow-free roads?

I haven't driven to the Grand Canyon since I was a kid, so I can't remember if the drive includes stretches of highway that pass through mountains where snow or ice accumulation on the roads could be considerable. At the Canyon, the weather forecast shows a mix of rain and snow flurries on Monday, but no precipitation and highs in the 50s on Tuesday and Wednesday.
posted by HotPatatta to Travel & Transportation around Grand Canyon, AZ (3 answers total)
Best answer: When you get into Arizona and get near Williams, you've gained enough elevation that the potential is there, however it's not a backcountry highway that gets ignored- so if it does snow you can expect it to be maintained. When you cut north from Williams to the GC on 64 you'll drop some in elevation but not a whole lot. It's one of main routes for tourism to the GC so again, it won't be ignored (and we aren't expecting any blizzard conditions that would overpower plow work.)

Local weather (Flagstaff, surrounding area) calls for cloudy and windy only.

So no threat of winding or tiny mountain roads from L.A. into AZ. You do get into the forest nearing Williams but it's a normal highway still. It gets smaller from Williams to the GC but it's a straight shot for 45 minutes.

Have fun!
posted by MansRiot at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The worst part of Arizona to get through is Flagstaff for weather usually and you will be avoiding that. If the forecast is clear you should be good. Do pack some blankets and water/food though as you never know and be mentally prepared to turn back if conditions warrant. It can get lonely in northern arizona real quick but you will be on pretty major and well patrolled roads. This time of year the Elk can be on the move and are in the lower country and they can really ruin your whole trip so watch out for them. They are about the size of cattle on stilts and will demolish an 18 wheeler if they collide at full speed.

Its a great time of year to visit the canyon as the crowds are thin and the weather is brisk, not boiling hot. It gets cold at night though so be prepared for that as well.
posted by bartonlong at 4:55 PM on November 20, 2011

For anyone checking in wondering this--I just made the trip HotPatatta asks about and had no problems driving there. I did end up going from LA to Phoenix first, though, so I can't give any information on taking the 40 all that way. Note on this Google map that going straight east from the 40 means turning north at Williams.

We came up from Flagstaff and didn't pass Williams, and you can see that the 180 is a lot more curvy on the route we took. The elevation climb is rugged (lots of windy roads) but manageable, and even though there were signs of snowfall, there was not yet any ice on the roads. Temperatures hovered in the mid-40s to 50s during the day and dropped at some point to the 30s after sunset. The drive up the 64/180 right up to the Grand Canyon itself (once the two routes converge) was relatively mild. I think the path is beaten so thoroughly that the road to the South Rim is relatively safe. We had good luck checking the National Park Service website for weather and road conditions, which were updated even throughout the holiday weekend. For anyone traveling there this winter, be safe and prepare for the harsh cold!
posted by therewolf at 10:03 PM on November 26, 2011

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