Best time to visit America

temperature & rainfall

Click on a location: San Francisco | New Orleans | Anchorage
With such a vast geographic spread, the climate varies according to region. More importantly, within each region you will get extremes. So when working out the best time to visit USA, you should plan your itinerary carefully and seek expert local advice. Even in the desert regions, it could be thirty degrees in Las Vegas but ten degrees a few hours away at the Grand Canyon. If you are hiking a canyon, it could be five degrees in the morning at the top, and forty by the time you hit the bottom. Check the weather before you pack, and cater for extremes.

When to visit USA

a month by month guide

  • In California, the weather and climate vary from region to region. The south and east are typically much warmer than the north and west. Californiaís Indian summer (mid-September to mid-October) is gorgeous with less fog and less extreme heat.

  • If you want to see bears in the likes of Yellowstone National Park, March, April and May are great, as are the autumn months, particularly in Alaska when they come out to catch the migratory salmon.

  • Public vacations are huge in the USA, so book well in advance if your vacations coincide with Independence Day (4 July), Memorial Day (last Monday in May) Labor Day (first Monday in September) or Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) which are the biggies.

  • If you are visiting some of the high peak regions such as the Rocky Mountains in Colorado or White Mountains of New Hampshire, there is still snow on some peaks in early summer, so check trail reports if you want to hike or ride sky high. But don't let it stop you. Hiking up to the snowline when it is thirty degrees outside is a wonderful experience.

  • If you are planning on some serious hiking in the famous canyons such as The Grand Canyon or Bryce, the heat in July and August can kill the vibe. And, sometimes indeed, the person. So avoid the height of summer if you can, especially if you arenít experienced in avoiding serious heat exhaustion. However, one of the most spectacular times to visit the canyons is in winter, when they are dusted with snow in December, January or even February. And very few other visitors too.

  • The winters in Alaska are frozen and dark, which is wonderful for Northern Lights vacations.  May is great for wildflowers and mosquito free. Mid June until end July is notorious for mosquitoes, so take precautions. By August the night frost starts to kill them off. And you will also see more moose at this time of year, as rutting season begins.

  • National parks are generally open all year round, but sometimes certain roads are closed during the heavy snow periods, such as the famous Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park, which closes for the winter, usually November until late May or June.

  • Hurricanes do happen in the south, including Florida, from June to November and tornadoes can hit various states east of the Rocky Mountains, such as Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. Spring is the most common time. Listen to local weather warnings for updates.


Best time to visit the USA recommends

Richard Hanson, managing director of our leading supplier Grand American Adventures, is the man to ask about the best time to go to the USA:
If you are visiting the south east, go in spring. Anywhere from Louisiana to Tennessee, the absolute best time is April. In summer, youíll get thunderstorms and oppressive humidity. October is also great, but you run the risk of hurricanes. In the desert south west the best times are spring or fall to avoid the heat and crowds. You donít want to go there too far into the winter either because you start losing the daylight hours. Colorado is great all the time. Even in spring, you have snow at night and crystal blue skies during the day.

Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures:
Donít be put off Alaska because you think it will be too cold. Europeans often think that they wonít get sunshine in Alaska, but in fact there are almost 24 hours of sunlight in summer. This summer we had so many days with 25 degrees, lots of sunshine, and then you arrive at the campsite and at 9pm you sit at the campfire with the sun shining in your face.

Festivals & events in the USA

Our cultural pick from the American calendar

Did you know about...?

Summer Solstice in Anchorage, Alaska is one big festival as it never gets dark. You can also head into more remote Alaska for the Solstice. Such as tiny town of Hope which has music every weekend during the height of the long summer days, people dancing in their rubber boots, and just a wonderful local atmosphere.
Photo credits: [Top box: docentjoyce] [Tip: Sheila Sund] [festivals: Frank Kovalchek]
Written by Catherine Mack
Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon

Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon

See the Grand Canyon & Monument Valley

From US $1479 8 days ex flights
Denali National Park holiday in Alaska

Denali National Park vacation in Alaska

Experience untouched wilderness off the beaten path

From US $2040 12 Days ex flights
New England and Canadian east coast tours

New England and Canadian east coast tours

Rugged, unspoiled and off the tourist trail

From US $2939 13 days ex flights
National Parks vacations in America

National Parks vacations in America

Explore the historic lodges of America's National Parks

From US $5009 15 days ex flights
Alaska adventure holiday, salmon run

Alaska adventure vacation, salmon run

Active small group adventures in a retrofitted school bus

From US $3590 20 Days ex flights
California, Nevada and Arizona vacation

California, Nevada and Arizona vacation

Journey into the remote wilds of Western America

From US $2185 11 Days ex flights
Alaska vacation, classic camping tour

Alaska vacation, classic camping tour

Camp and discover the delights of Alaska

From US $2979 14 days ex flights
National Parks holiday in America, Western explorer

National Parks vacation in America, Western explorer

A medley of man-made and natural wonders

From US $2999 13 days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: rayb777]
Convert currencies