After heavy summer rain (July and August) or winter snow (December through March), expect impassable backcountry roads. If clear skies abound after the rain or snow, then it is often just a matter of days until the sun dries everything out. Sometimes, heavy rain or melting snow can lead to flooding, which can cause erosion of the roadbed and can delay access. Snow accumulations have been very low in 2013/2014, so lower elevation dirt roads may be accessible.
Other considerations for visitors travelling on remote backcountry roads include high clearance, such as may be needed on Forest Road 328 to South Bass Trailhead (limestone ledges) and on the final approach to Toroweap overlook (sandstone knobs and ledges).
Finally, consider elevation of the road that you will be travelling on, especially during the winter months. Roads in the 6,500 to 8,000 foot range may be impassable due to a snowpack, where lower elevations roads (below 6,000 feet) will see deteriorated road conditions due to rain.
Always check road conditions with the Backcountry Information Center before heading out to remote trailheads, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, and be adaptable and prepared for the worst. High clearance, four-wheel drive is usually recommended for roads to remote trailheads.
It is not uncommon for trees to fall and block access to remote trailheads. When you encounter a road blocked by fallen trees, what should you do?
- Report the location and diameter of the tree to Grand Canyon park dispatch (928-638-7805) as soon as possible. The park will assign staff to clear the road.
- If an appropriate (not blocking the road and not damaging vegetation) place to park is available, park your vehicle and continue to the trailhead on foot.
- Do not drive off-road attempting to bypass the obstacle, doing so can cause resource damage.