Deep in the sun-baked southeast of the USA, Arizona is famous for dramatic desert landscapes, burnished red rocks, Wild West ghost towns, and a rather well-known canyon. With so much magnificent outdoor space to explore, there are a lot of things to consider before booking your ticket to the Grand Canyon State. Finding the best time to visit Arizona is all about getting out in nature, so you’ll want to ensure that the weather is at its best, and the crowds are small for maximum enjoyment. It’s also worth planning your vacation to coincide with any of the multitudes of events and festivals taking place in the state’s cities and towns throughout the year.
Staying in a great location is also important for getting the most out of your Arizona vacation, so why not explore from the comfort and luxury of your own private vacation home? It’s by far the best way to see the sights of the state, with accommodation options in popular destinations including Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Gilbert.
Read on to discover the best time to visit Arizona.
The weather in Arizona
Arizona’s desert landscape contributes a lot of sunshine and hot weather to the state. Experiencing an average of 300 sunny days each year, Arizona is a good bet for sun-seekers, but there are significant variations in average temperature and weather patterns depending on where in the state you visit.
The best thing about Arizona is that weather-wise, there isn’t really a bad time to visit. You just need to know what you want. If you’re after a desert adventure in the state’s southern and central cities, such as Phoenix, then winter is a fantastic time to go, with warm, dry weather ideal for outdoor activities. For winter sports fans, Decemerb – February is the best time to visit Arizona. Flagstaff in the north offers phenomenal skiing, and the Grand Canyon takes on a unique appearance with a covering of frost and snow.
The shoulder seasons, spring and fall, are good all-rounders, with moderate temperatures and some lingering snow in the north. this is the period that many consider being the best time to visit Arizona.
Summer temperatures can be uncomfortably hot in desert regions. On the flip side, if you’re visiting Arizona’s national parks, then you will be able to enjoy the most amount of activities and facilities during the peak season, but the crowds, particularly at the Grand Canyon, will be at their highest level.
Phoenix, central Arizona
For all-around great weather, winter is the best time to visit Phoenix. Sunny days are plentiful, temperatures are comfortable, and the city is pulsing with events and holiday festivities.
Arizona’s capital is located in the Sonoran Desert and sees over 300 days of sunshine per year. There is a pleasant warmth in the city even in the depths of winter. In the summer, when the mercury can reach a sweltering height of 105°F (40°C), outdoor activities are mostly off-limits, but Phoenix’s indoor attractions come into their own during this time of the year.
Average temperatures and rainfall in Phoenix
|High 68°F (20°C)||High 105°F (40°C)||High 88°F (31°C)||High 68°F (20°C)|
|Low 61°F (16°C)||Low 82°F (28°C)||Low 65°F (18°C)||Low 47°F (8°C)|
|14mm (0.55 inches)||12mm (0.47 inches)||14mm (0.55 inches)||25mm (0.98 inches)|
Tucson, south Arizona
If you thought that Phoenix had a lot of sunshine, then get ready for Tucson! The desert city sees a magnificent 350 days of sun every year. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Tucson attracts snowbirds and families wanting a winter vacation in the warmth. Due to the arid, dry environment that Tucson and many other Arizona cities inhabit, temperatures fall away fast once the sun goes down. Nighttime temperatures can hit lows of a chilly 42°F (5°C) in the winter. Don’t forget to pack a few warm layers for nights out. As in phoenix, summer is almost unbearably hot, and not recommended for outdoor activities.
Average temperatures and rainfall in Tucson
|High 85°F (29°C)||High 100°F (38°C)||High 85°F (29°C)||High 66°F (18°C)|
|Low 55°F (13°C)||Low 75°F (24°C)||Low 60°F (16°C)||Low 42°F (5°C)|
|12mm (0.47 inches)||41mm (1.61 inches)||24 mm (0.94 inches)||25mm (0.98 inches)|
The Grand Canyon, north Arizona
A state of dramatic contrasts, the weather in northern parts of Arizona, including at the mighty Grand Canyon, is much more changeable than in central and southern areas. During the winter, snow is frequently seen, making Arizona a somewhat unexpected ski destination for those in the know.
Average temperatures and rainfall at the Grand Canyon
|High 59°F (15°C)||High 82°F (28°C)||High 64°F (18°C)||High 43°F (6°C)|
|Low 32°F (0°C)||Low 50°F (10°C)||Low 32°F (0°C)||Low 18°F (-8°C)|
|11mm (0.43 inches)||18mm (0.71 inches)||20mm (0.79 inches)||12mm (0.47 inches)|
When is tornado season in Arizona?
The good news is that Arizona does not get anywhere the level of tornado activity that more eastern states get. Arizona has an average of four tornadoes each year. The reason for this low number is that the state has very dry air. This means that the thunderstorms that precede tornadoes very rarely happen. Arizona does have its own tornado season in the summer, but it is highly unlikely that you will need to deal with one during your vacation. For more information about tornado season in America, take a look at our guide here.
The best time to visit Arizona, month by month
Arizona weather in January is generally pleasant and dry. Temperatures are not yet reaching the intense highs of the summer, and evenings get quite cold. It is also a dry month, with very little rainfall throughout the state. In the north of Arizona, there is likely to be some snowfall during January.
There are several popular January events in Arizona. The Arizona Rock n’ Roll Marathon is a family-friendly event that takes place in Phoenix in mid-January. There are numerous races, including 10K and 5K runs and kids’ routes, plus live music and spectator stands. Or, if you’re around early in the month, the annual Holiday Lights spectacular is a magical experience in Phoenix to enjoy the last bit of holiday cheer for the year. It closes on the 2nd of January, so if you’re visiting Arizona at the beginning of the month, make sure to check it out.
Arizona weather in February is generally warm and very dry, with small crowds. If you want to hit the slopes, the northern parts of the state will still have a good covering of snow over high ground, while the desert landscapes of the south will be warm and dry. It is a great time to play a few rounds of golf in the south and west. Arizona is famous for its fabulous golf courses, and conditions are perfect during February to practice your swing.
Arizona events in February include Arizona Beer Week, a must-visit for beer-lovers, for a full itinerary of events including beer tastings, seminars, and pub crawls all supporting local Arizona breweries. The event takes place across the entire state. Scottsdale Parada Del Sol is another calendar highlight. Every February, the streets of Old Town Scottsdale rumble to the thundering sound of hooves as the world’s largest horse-drawn parade comes to town. Celebrating the history of Scottsdale, the parade features floats, cars, and performances, and is an unforgettable way to discover Arizona’s history.
Arizona weather in March is typical of the coming of Spring, with chilly nights and pleasantly warm days. The weather is at its most diverse across Arizona during this period. The deserts of the south are temperate and busy with people hoping to visit the area without the searing heat of summer. The north of Arizona, around the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, is still seeing cold temperatures and some snowfall. March is one of the best times to visit Arizona if you don’t enjoy extreme heat conditions, but still want enjoyable warmth in which to explore the cities and sights. Be aware though, that March is considered the peak season in and around Phoenix, so there will be significant crowds in the city.
One of the key reasons for the crowds is that March is a good month for events in Arizona, particularly in Phoenix. The biggest March event in the state concerns one of the most beloved pastimes in America; baseball. Spring Training takes place in March. Spectators can watch their favorite teams and players preparing for the season in smaller and more intimate stadiums. For something a little more unique, the Arizona Renaissance Festival takes place to the east of Phoenix from February through April every year. This wildly popular event features such delights as jousting tournaments, feasting, and marketplaces, and is a guaranteed hit for families on an Arizona vacation.
Arizona’s April weather is interesting and can be unpredictable. In the north, April is one of the quietest months (worth remembering if you’re planning on visiting the Grand Canyon). There is, of course, a reason that people stay away during April, and that is because the north of Arizona experiences some very strong winds during this period. Additionally, you will probably find that some of the facilities at the Grand Canyon are closed in April because it is not yet the peak time for visitors.
Elsewhere in the state, central-southern areas are not yet reaching summer temperatures. They do, however, experience some of the high winds mentioned above, which can whip up the desert sand into stinging clouds of dust. For exploring the cities, April is generally a good time to visit Arizona. The temperatures are mild and warm, but not so hot that you can’t enjoy the various outdoor activities and events on offer.
April is National Jazz Appreciation Month. Many Arizona cities get in on the action with free music festivals throughout the month. Notable jazz events take place in Chandler, where there is a family-friendly two-day festival featuring live performances in a spectacular outdoor setting, and Mesa, just outside of Phoenix. April also sees the annual Phoenix Pride Festival, which attracts over 40000 attendees annually for the shows, parades, and performances in celebration of Arizona’s LGBTQ+ community.
The thermometer readings start to creep up in May, as Arizona gets a jumpstart on the sorts of temperatures that other states won’t enjoy for another few months. Arizona weather in May is generally wonderful. It’s just before the sweltering heat of summer and a few weeks out from the monsoon season that can bring sharp downpours to the state in June. Outdoor activities might start to feel a little sweaty and uncomfortable during this time, but getting to places early and hiking or adventuring before the sun gets to its highest point should mean that you still have an enjoyable and safe experience. May is also one of the most pleasant times to be in Arizona after dark, particularly as the temperatures dip to refreshing but not cold lows, perfect for getting out and experiencing incredible star-filled skies over the dusty landscape.
One of the most popular events in the Arizona calendar takes place on the Sunday closest to the 5th of May; Phoenix’s annual Cinco de Mayo festival. This vibrant party celebrates the ties between Arizona and nearby Mexico. Expect delicious food, Lucha Libre wrestling, dancing, and Latinx performers. The event is ticketed, but all proceeds go towards supporting Arizona’s Latinx communities.
Things start to really heat up in Arizona in June. One of the quieter months for tourism, cities such as Phoenix and Tucson will be almost deserted when compared to the thronging crowds of winter. There is a reason that many stay away at this time; the heat. Things can start to get pretty uncomfortable in June, with dry desert heat bringing temperatures up to 100°F (38°C) in the south of the state. This makes hiking and outdoor activities unappealing and ill-advised. There is some relief from the heat to be found in the short and sharp rain downpours that occur in June and throughout the summer, but all in all, it is a month for enjoying Arizona’s indoor attractions.
Festivals and events move inside in June, with things like vintage and antique fairs and craft shows happening in many cities around Arizona. It is one of the quietest months in Arizona’s social calendar, mostly because many residents and visitors head to the cooler destinations in the north of the state.
At the height of the summer, July continues the trend of hot weather that started in June, but whether it’s because, after a month, everyone has adjusted to the heat, or because of the packed events calendar, the weather seems a little more bearable. It is still very warm, and caution should be taken if hiking or doing any outdoor activity (we recommend sticking to early morning or evening activities, especially in the southern parts of Arizona). It is also still monsoon season, which brings with it the risk of flooding and dust storms.
The biggest event in Arizona this month is the 4th of July celebrations. Pretty much every city and town in America celebrates Independence Day, and in Arizona, the fireworks and parties are spectacular.
For something completely unexpected, you can visit the annual Christmas In July event in Glendale. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a Christmas market celebrating the Holiday season, just like you’d find in December, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and ice skating rinks anywhere else in America. Only in Arizona, it’s in the desert. In July. There’s even a visit from the man in red himself.
Arizona’s August weather is still very hot, it is in fact the hottest month of the whole year. Advisories are often put out to dissuade hikers from venturing onto the desert trails. Most vacationers give the southern area of the state a very wide berth due to the extreme heat. In the north, the Grand Canyon is very busy because of school breaks, but it is still very hot, even at the site’s considerable altitude. Unless you have no other option, we wouldn’t recommend visiting the canyon during August. Add onto that the risk of flash floods and haboobs (dust storms) due to it being Arizona’s monsoon season, and it’s starting to look like a pretty undesirable time to visit.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. There is a big upside to visiting Arizona in August if you can handle the heat. As so few people visit the state during the month, prices at restaurants and attractions are at rock bottom. It is, therefore, possible to get some great bargains in August.
Arizona’s events calendar is pretty low-key in August, due to most people wanting to stay out of the heat as much as possible. There are, however, a couple of fun events taking place this month. At the Desert Botanical Gardens, you can take a flashlight walk through the plants on a nighttime guided tour, giving you the chance to see towering cacti and other otherworldly plants in a completely different light. Across Arizona, many museums also offer limited and special exhibitions in lovely air-conditioned halls, to tempt hot and bothered visitors to spend a cultural day exploring the region’s history.
The weather in Arizona in September is still pretty toasty, with long, bright days. It is, however, starting to get more noticeable that evenings bring cool relief from the relentless heat. Even so, outdoor activities are not going to be comfortable, particularly early in the month. Another difference between September and the previous few months is that the monsoon season has tailed off, meaning less rainfall. September is a great month for exploring the museums and indoor attractions of Arizona. Alternatively, enjoy a relaxing day by a lake, of which Arizona has a number around Phoenix. You can also cool off in your own private pool in one of our luxury Arizona vacation rentals.
After a brief down period in August, Arizona’s events schedule starts to fill up again in mid-September. It is mostly sporting events on the calendar this month. Football and baseball are the games of the season. Many local favorites such as the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks play in stadiums around the state during September.
The month of October is another fantastic time to visit Arizona. The weather is finally beginning to cool off after a long, sweltering summer. Temperatures are mild enough to be able to get out and about and enjoy the many stunning outdoor sites. It’s a great time to visit The Grand Canyon, as the teeming crowds of summer have long gone, but the temperature is likely to be mild, perfect for enjoying the magnificent sight before you.
October is one of the best times to visit Arizona for events and festivals. Local art, music, and other cultural events are happening across Phoenix and the rest of Arizona. The Arizona State Fair takes place over the entire month, celebrating everything about the state. If you’re feeling hungry, you can stop by the Arizona Taco Festival. Vendors compete for the high honor of being named the best taco in the entire state, in what might be the most delicious competition you’ll ever witness. October is, of course, Halloween month, and across Arizona, you can take part in spooktacular events to mark the celebration.
As the daytime temperatures continue to cool and the snowbirds flock in from the north, the Grand Canyon State starts to get busier. Arizona weather in November is very pleasant. Days are generally bright, sunny, and warm. While nights can be crisp, Arizona offers a tempting alternative to the freezing temperatures elsewhere in America.
There are countless events and festivals in Arizona in November. From the Cave Creek Wild West Days festival to harvest events and the annual Gem and Mineral Show, there is something for everyone during the month.
Arizona weather in December is perfect for winter sun-seekers. Warm, clear days give way to clear cool evenings under a glittering canvas of stars. It is the best time to visit Arizona for those wanting to explore the great outdoors. Conditions are perfect for outdoor adventures in the desert and family breaks for the holiday season. In the north of the state, the snow should have arrived, bringing with it the skis season in destinations such as Flagstaff. As for Arizona’s most famous attraction; although the North Rim of the Grand Canyon will probably be closed, the South Rim will be open, and could even be resplendently covered in a glittering blanket of snow.
December events in Arizona mostly center around the holidays. There are tree lightings, markets, and light trails, as well as other festive events in many cities and towns throughout the state. December is also a great time to be in Phoenix to enjoy the city’s famous art scene. Galleries, exhibits, and art walks all put on special events for the festive period.
The best time to visit Arizona national parks
Arizona is home to 3 national parks and 12 national monuments, each as spectacular as the last. The most famous and visited is the Grand Canyon, but that doesn’t mean that you should overlook the likes of the Petrified Forest, Saguaro, and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Valley.
As with any popular attraction, there are times when these parks will be very crowded. It generally matches the peak seasons in the rest of Arizona; winter is going to be busiest in the southern desert parks, such as Saguaro. On the other hand, summer is by far the most crowded time at the Grand Canyon. Another important consideration is the weather and temperature. During the summer, the temperature is too high to safely explore Arizona’s desert regions. Therefore, it is not advisable to plan a trip during this period. The shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Arizona’s national parks. The weather will be pleasant and mild, and the crowds are fewer.
Find and book beautiful vacation rentals in Arizona
Make the most out of your Arizona adventure with one of our stunning vacation homes in the state’s best locations. With luxurious features including private pools, home theatres, and also pet-friendly facilities, these villas are the ideal places to spend an unforgettable vacation in Arizona at any time of the year.